Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Autumn Activities

It has been a busy couple of months, with the birth of a new great-nephew, for whom I had to make a quilt, a niece's wedding, a quilt retreat, and completion of a quilt top my daughter and I have been working on for years.

We also experienced some "interesting" fall weather, as the tornadoes that hit Illinois and Indiana just missed our area. We did have extremely high winds. I am grateful that friends and family members in the affected areas were not hurt, and hopeful that things will return to normal for those who experienced property damage as soon as possible.


This baby quilt is based on a pattern in an old "Quiltmaker's" magazine. I made some changes, and resized it. The quilting pattern is my own free threadplay.

Here is a closer look at some of it.

This quilt top is the Ozark Maple Leaf quilt pattern from Nickel Quilts. We began it with the intention of hand-piecing a queen-size quilt, but after many years, I requested my daughter bring me the blocks she had finished. Between us, we had enough blocks ready to make a lap-size quilt. We were able to find materials in my stash for the first and third borders. The other fabrics used in the quilt run the gamut from leftover fabrics from my daughter's childhood through fabrics we purchased at a quilt shop in the town in which her grandmother lived. The placement of blocks and choices of colors are my daughter's. She now has possession of the top and is planning to dye the fabric for the backing. Once that is done, she will return it to me for sandwiching and quilting.

I have another couple of projects that I am currently finishing, but can't show since they are intended for Christmas gifts. I really appreciated the opportunity to go on the quilt retreat, since I was able to get a lot of work done in that time. One thing that it demonstrated for me is the value of working around other artists. This is also highlighted in this interview on Makers-In-Business-with-Liz-Smith. It gives me a greater appreciation for the idea of a studio space in a community of artists.

I hope that you have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving this year. I feel I have a great deal to be grateful for and hope you can also find things that make you happy in your life.

As always, until next time, I wish you peace and all good.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

AAQI Reminder

I read an article recently about a man, whose background was in engineering, who is now struggling with Alzheimer’s. He and his wife had suspected it might happen, since several members of his family had battled the disease.

In addition, there have been a number of reports this summer of elderly people losing their way while driving to familiar places. Often they have been missing for days or more, creating heartbreak and fear among their loved ones and putting themselves in grave danger.

So, it was a blessing to receive the following information from Ami Simms this morning. I hope that you will also do what you can to support AAQI.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative has just funded two more research grants!

The official press release is here:

Snag anything you like for your blog from either sources.

What's on the horizon?

Well, bidders in the September auction just raised $3,154 for the AAQI. We will continue to fund grants until we have no more money!

The October online auction features quilts from "Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope" as does the December online auction. The November auction is the Celebrity Invitational Quilt Auction and then of course we will be making noise in the exhibit area at International Quilt Festival in Houston, October 30-November 3. We hope to offer more than 2,500 quilts. If things go as planned, we may reach the $1,000,000 mark in funds raised for research in Houston.

Please invite your readers to join support us by purchasing a small quilt online:

Until next time, I wish you peace and all good.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Strawberry Jazz Festival & More

It has been a fairly quiet month around here, though that doesn't mean it hasn't been busy. I have been spending much of my time recently doing research for a book I am working on. It means I am on the computer a lot and not spending much time in the studio. I did get out to the Strawberry Jazz Festival, though the weather that day was quite cold. They have a variety of musicians, vendors, and organizations represented each year, and the grounds are lovely.

One of my friends, an artist who was a vendor at the event, designed a line of fabric with In The Beginning Fabrics that will be coming out in December. You can see more of her work at

I also wanted to remind everyone that time is running out to donate Priority Quilts to the Alzheimers Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI). Michele Bilyeu has a great reminder about that and information on other ways you can still help.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Living with Joy

Years ago I maintained a very large garden, growing vegetables, fruit, flowers, and herbs. It was during a time in my life when I was a SAHM and had begun building the business, making, at the time, primarily useful items and some dolls. In the intervening years, I went back to get my degrees and ended up working full time until I retired. Also, during those years, my allergies got so bad that I could no longer work the garden. There are some leftovers of my gardening years, however, and yesterday evening I took the chance of an allergic reaction and went out to take pictures.
apple blossoms

lilac bushes

rose bush
lilac close up
even closer
When I graduated with my MA, my brother and his wife gifted us with two beautiful bushes. One of them has done well, since it gets full sun. The other sits unhappily in the shade of the fruit trees (pictured below). I want to have it replanted elsewhere, but do not remember what it is or know when the best time is to uproot it. Does anyone have any ideas?
One of the reasons I decided to go out to take the photos is that I lost a cousin, suddenly, last month. She and I were born in the same year, and so far as anyone knew, she not only did not have any health issues, but was doing everything right to stay healthy. I had expected she would outlive me by many years. While my first reaction, after concern for her family, was to dwell on the probability of death, it finally hit me that what I really need to do is live with joy. None of us knows how much time we have, but we need to make the most of whatever there is.
That spurred me to make some decisions about my creative work. I have several things in process, now, and hope to share them, soon. One is a new art doll prototype. I have also been designing some prayer flags. Perhaps of more significance are the decisions I have been making about priorities and incorporating more time for items I have started or have materials to make for family members. At any rate, it has had the result of kick-starting my creativity, again.
I hope that you will find ways to live with joy.
Until next time, I wish you peace.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Book Review

I recently read an interesting new book called Overheated: The Human Costs of Climate Change by Andrew Guzman ©2013 (Oxford University Press). I have no stake in the book, financial or otherwise, but feel it is important enough to be worth writing about.

Rather than describe the science, Guzman looks at the results that would occur (and in some cases are already happening) if a conservative estimate of global warming proves true. He uses analogies throughout the book that are quite effective in describing a variety of the basic issues. In addition, he provides clear examples of the various scenarios that are possible. Guzman also gives an account of the support for claims on both sides of the issue so that the average person has a better understanding of who is on each side. One point that he makes is an answer to those who feel we should wait to respond or that there is significant time to make changes. His response is to question whether the person is saving for a child’s college education or for retirement because many of the changes that are projected will likely occur within the next two to thirty-five years.
While I would have liked to have seen more prescriptions for ways in which individuals can impact the situation, Guzman keeps the book short enough to be readable while covering a significant amount of material.
I heartily recommend reading the book whatever side of the issue you are on. While he certainly takes the position that the climate is changing, the ramifications in terms of its impact are spelled out clearly and may surprise you.
As always, I wish you peace and all good.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative News

I received the following information from Ami Simms about the AAQI and want to share it with you. As I posted in this important announcement from AAQI, this will be the last year for this fund raising effort. Please check out the links and help if you possibly can.
1. The May auction quilts are up! AAQI is offering 27 beautiful quilts from the Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt project. The online auction starts on May 1st and runs to May 10th.

2. Participants in the AAQI's annual Celebrity Invitational Quilt Auction are confirmed for the November online auction. They are Charlotte Warr Andersen, Alex Anderson, Karen Kay Buckley, Linda Carlson, Pepper Cory, John Flynn, Diane Gaudynski, Renae Haddadin, Pat Holly, Libby Lehman, Patrick Lose, Marsha McCloskey, Sue Nickels, Barbara Shapel, Virginia & George Siciliano, Mary Sorensen, Ricky Tims, and Laura Wasilowski.

Whose quilt do you think will go for the highest amount?

3. The AAQI will return one last time to International Quilt Festival in Houston (Oct 30-Nov 3). They hope to bring 2,500 little quilts to sell and still need help reaching that goal. There is still time to make a quilt. The deadline isn't until August 1st. Details are here:

Be a part of the fight against Alzheimer's!
On another note, the Brown Thrasher returned yesterday and I was actually able to capture a few pictures.
Looking for a hiding place

Hiding out in the bushes

Finally, a clear view.
As always, until next time,  I wish you peace and all good.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What is your perspective?

While our yard resembled a swamp yesterday, we were among the fortunate in our region of northern Illinois. We didn't have any flooding or have to contend with detours for flooded streets to the places we were going. The birds found our yard a veritable overflowing pantry, as the ground was too wet for the hiding residents like worms and bugs.

Of course, there was also some of the usual feed provided by the humans around here.

Of course, there is the question of how the ground nesting birds handled the situation, but for the most part, the birds took advantage of what was, for humans, a real mess.
Recently, we began trying to identify how many different types of birds frequent our yard. The list is growing quite impressive, and new ones seem to come all the time. The most recent we've identified is a fox sparrow. Larger than the typical sparrows we see, it has an unusual trait of jumping forward and back to clear clutter away from its food.

We had quite a scare with the first one that visited, however, as it hit our sliding glass door and was in bad shape for hours. Eventually, it was able to fly away. Over the next few days, we began to see more of them.


Another frequent spring visitor to our yard is the Northern Flicker. Seeing it pounding the ground with its beak (since it is a type of "woodpecker") is truly unusual. Another ground feeder is the Brown Thrasher, which also attacks the ground for food, but without the velocity of the Flicker. The Thrasher normally visits only for a rare few days and is generally camera shy.

As I write this, my husband is watching a World News special report on the hunt for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing. The news of this last week has been devastating in so many areas of the country: Boston, Texas, and the Midwest. It is difficult to handle. At the same time, I am inclined to think about the outrush of support given by so many people in these situations. While there are a few people who perpetrate violence, I believe we need to remember that the majority of people in the world are caring individuals who would do everything they could to assist and comfort those in need.

I invite you to consider your perspective. Do you look at the good or focus only the bad? I know that my perspective can affect my health. Does that happen to you?

As always, until next time, I wish you peace and all good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reorganized Studio

The last six weeks have been busy as, in addition to making the baby quilt I showed you in the last post, I have been working on reorganizing the studio. I resolved the question of fat quarter storage with paper covered boxes and Terry Atkinson's folding method shown on Sewing with Nancy. I'm quite pleased with the result. Thanks to all who offered suggestions.

Since that side of the room needed to be reorganized, a few changes also had to occur elsewhere. I cleared one of my worktables to use for working on dolls and other small projects . . .

I also added a rolling cart for doll-making supplies which meant I had to move the file cabinet and beading supplies next to the sewing table . . .

Obviously, there is still tweaking to be done, but the studio is much more work friendly. My supplies are all organized; I have a much better idea of what I have available; and I'm loving the expansion to the floor space, since it is a small room. I did end up keeping some bins, but they now hold WIPs (Works in Progress) and specialty fabrics (primarily recycled pieces).

One of the things that all this reorganization reminded me of was the post I wrote on Hopes vs. Goals last year. While there are still things I feel I haven't made enough progress on, I did complete or make progress on quite a few. That, in turn, made it clear that  making that kind of a list is a great help, not only in identifying what one wants to concentrate on in a given period, but also as a check in the future to identify how close one has come to one's hopes.

I find that I have also been inspired by the work of one of my friends. She has been working on building up a business over the last few years. She created the little box on the left of the bookcases.

You can find more of her work at Cross Stitch Treasures by CanvasFun. She has a wonderful eye for design and some interesting ideas. I hope you will check out her shop.

Until next time, I hope you will make progress on your hopes and that you enjoy peace and all good.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow and Winter Activities

Just like much of the northern section of the county, we were visited by the heavy snow the last couple of days. While we did not get the kind of accumulation that has been hitting the northeast this winter, our area did receive around half a foot of snow (somewhere between 5" and 8" according to the National Weather Service).

This is how the snow looked yesterday afternoon.

This is how it looked earlier this morning. While we had been well below the average snowfall for the season, this event brought our area up to within an inch or so of normal accumulation. It is extremely odd to have it so late and that fact broke a record set back in 1931 for the heaviest snowfall in March.
Of course, this is just the kind of weather that makes many of us (myself included) want to stay inside, enjoy the view, and do other things. I have finally gotten back to organizing the studio, again. This past month, I have been unable to work on that because I was working on this:

This baby quilt proves the adage about getting fabric when you see it. The bug fabric in the pinwheels was purchased at the first Chicago International Quilt Show. At the time, I had no idea how I would use it, but I did know I had to buy it. When my niece and her husband asked for "bright colors" for their first baby, I knew why.

The pattern is an adaptation of a Project Linus quilt from "Quiltmaker" magazine, called "Hopes & Dreams." I adjusted the size of the block to 7" and changed the direction in order to make the pinwheels. The quilt worked out to a 40" square.

I hope you enjoy.

Until next time, I wish you peace and all good.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Studio Reorganization Question

I have been busy reorganizing the studio since we switched out a bureau. We purchased two bookcases to replace it. Like these:

Now, I have to decide what method to use to store fat quarters. I have been folding 1/2 yard and up fabrics and stacking those.

The shelves are 11 inches deep and 11, 14-1/2 or 16 inches high, so I am reluctant to simply stack the fat quarters. I want to have easy access and need to be able to easily determine the color range/theme. Does anyone have any suggestions? What works best for you?

As far as I can tell, my options include baskets, bins, plastic shoe boxes, CD cases, boxes of various sorts, and trying to fold the fabric to fit. Are you using one or more of these options? Do you have a preference, if you are?

I appreciate any help you can give me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Important announcement from AAQI

The following information from Ami Simms arrived in my inbox today.

The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative will most likely reach the $1,000,000 mark in money raised for Alzheimer’s research some time in 2013!
The work of your hands and the compassion in your hearts has brought us to this milestone. I will be forever grateful to each and every one of you for your support and dedication.
Ami and her mother, Beebe, in 2006 shortly after the AAQI began.

What began as one person’s response to sorrow and frustration has grown into a national charity embraced by a large portion of the quilting community. More than 13,000 quilts have been donated, turning sweat equity into over $883,000 for research so far. For many donors these quilts were healing works of art which helped them grieve as they stitched for the greater good. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen the AAQI’s two traveling quilt exhibits about Alzheimer’s. Through this artistry came the realization for many that they were not alone on this journey of heartbreak; others understood, perhaps for the first time, what a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s really means. Together quilters have funded 11 research studies at six universities and a medical school. Three more studies will be funded this month and hopefully more throughout 2013. Because of the AAQI, scientists know a little bit more about Alzheimer’s than they did before. Hopefully this understanding will bring us all closer to a cure.

When I created the AAQI back in 2006, I never expected it to become so successful! I also never imaged how much work it would take to keep it going. As the AAQI blossomed, board members and core volunteers have had to increase our hours and pace to keep up. While I find enormous satisfaction in nurturing the AAQI, I much prefer sewing to administrating. I miss just being a full-time quilter.

For this reason, 2013 will be the last year of fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. I hope you will help the AAQI reach our goal of One Million Dollars for research and then at the end of 2013 celebrate with everyone who made this tremendous achievement possible. Please review the important dates below:

February 15, 2013: All bookings for the traveling exhibit “Alzheimer’s Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope” must be finalized.

March 1, 2013: First online auction of quilts from “Alzheimer’s Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope” traveling exhibit. Twenty-six Name Quilts will be auctioned during the first 10 days of March, April, May, June, July, August, and September. Payment will be required at the conclusion of each auction with shipping in October 2013 after the exhibit retires. The 54 Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts from the traveling exhibit will be auctioned during the first 10 days of October and December.

July 2013: Last month to participate in the Quilt-A-Month Club.

August 1, 2013: Last day to register Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts. Quilts delivered to scanners after August 20 will be refused.

October 29 – November 3, 2013: International Quilt Festival. We hope to be invited back one last time to sell quilts in Houston, TX.

November 1-10, 2013: Celebrity Invitational Quilt Online Auction

December 30, 2013: Last day Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts can be purchased online.

December 31, 2013: Quilts For Sale and Donation pages will be removed from the AAQI website and all solicitations will cease.

2014-2015: The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative will monitor research grants awarded in 2013. The AQQI web page will be left intact for at least six months. Any funds not needed to sustain the AAQI’s final expenses will be donated to research. Remaining assets will be disposed of according to IRS regulations after which time the corporation will be dissolved.

There is still much work to this year as we sprint to the finish line. I hope everyone who reads this will join in, either as a seasoned veteran or a first time quilt donor or quilt buyer. We will continue to make a difference until the very last quilt is sold. Let’s make 2013 the best year ever!

I hope that you will find some way to help make the goal a possibility, whether by donating a quilt or quilts, bidding on an auction, spreading the word, or purchasing a quilt.

Until next time, wishing you peace and all good.