A Quilting Diversion

What could distract me from quilting? Well that would be rug hooking! Noah! has languished on the frame for months. What happens, and I’m sure you can all relate, is that the longer you leave a project, the more you become certain that you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know what comes next. And in the deep stages, you are sure that you never enjoyed rug hooking and are pretty sure you might never get back to it.

But my annual California Getaway (in Anaheim) is coming up in January. It would be nice to be able to share Noah!, and also, I need to figure out what I am going to work on at this rug hooking retreat.

Here is Noah! where I left off some long time ago.


I found this picture of an owl on a mixed media artist’s blog. I found her blog through my Australian blogger friend! Ya gotta love blogging!


I was quite intrigued with this picture, and thought it might make an interesting rug. I wrote to Elizabeth and asked if she would mind if I used her picture to make a rug, and she kindly gave permission. I did the online thing and had an 8X10 enlargement made at the local Walgreen’s.

I was in Walmart one day, and thought I would get some tracing paper to start working on this pattern. And then I spied that wonderful clear plastic sheeting that they sell in their fabric department. That would be even better. Because this was a complex pattern, and I would be able to see very clearly which branch and which vine were going which way.

This worked so perfectly. It will be my go-to for rug patterns from now on. I wasn’t sure that the Sharpie pen would work on the plastic, but it did. Here is the start. I taped the photo to the plastic, and then just started copying.


Here is the pattern, taped to white paper so the Sharpie lines will be clearly visible for copying. The squiggly lines are where I mistakenly drew in the edge of the photograph before I discovered that the photo enlargement had eliminated the trunk on the side  of the original picture. I just looked at the online picture and drew that in by hand. You can see that I didn’t copy every single line and motif. That might make the pattern too confusing, and it will be easier to add in those details later as I hook. Now I will take it to the copy store and have it enlarged to about a 20 inch square. And then it will be ready to transfer to the rug hooking linen. And I will be ready for my trip to Anaheim!


And finally, all this rug hooking activity and discussion (I talk to my rug hooking friend Mary Lynn about all this) got me in the mood to give Noah a try again. And what do you know? I rediscovered the joy of pulling loops of wool through the linen backing! Through our discussions, I realized that I needed to add a bit more intensive color to the colored side of Noah, and so there was a bit of unhooking involved. I thought I should add more color to his face, and so I re-worked the lime green and magenta pink areas. The lime green I like, but I don’t like what the magenta has done to the shape of his face, and so I will have to re-do that area. But I am so enthused about almost having all of Noah completed, and I have my collection of brown wools all ready to go for the hardwood floor. The end is in sight!


Yo Yo’s!

Here is a project that I have been working on for YEARS! And by that I mean–I started it, and then got bored so it went in the closet. And then maybe a year later, I ran out of handwork, and thought–Yo Yo’s! And got them out and worked on them for a while until something more interesting came along, and back into the closet they went. And on it went, and still goes.

The project started with a group of fabrics that I really liked, in colors that I don’t usually choose–mostly browns with a few greens thrown in. And originally, I think I saw some scarves made out of yo yo’s and that is what I wanted to do. I started joining the yo yo’s into blocks 4X6. And I liked them so much that I thought, I’ll make a quilt! Do you know how long it takes to make yo yo’s? I timed myself last night. One yo yo takes 5 minutes, and so 24 of them takes 2 hours, and that does not include sewing them into their 4X6 block!

Anyway, I kept thinking about combining them with little “quiltlets.” Like make mini quilts the same size as the yo yo blocks and alternate these quiltlets with the yo yo blocks. I thought I would use the same group of fabrics I had been working on, and it would just be very scrappy.

When I finished the kantha blanket, I got the yo yo’s out again. And this time, I had the thought to use one unifying fabric for the alternate blocks. I got out this favorite dark fabric, and I LOVE the way the yo yo’s look on it.


So now I am a little more motivated to work on my yo yo’s in the evening. If I want to make a quilt 54″ X 63″, I need 54 yo yo blocks. (I am using the “small” yo yo maker. The finished size is about 1 inch.) I have 12 made. I am not going to do the math of how many hours that will be. I will just keep making yo yo’s between projects, and someday I will have a yo yo quilt🙂

And kind of along the same lines (taking a long time to complete a work) but completely different–watch this short video of this incredible artist at work. He took 3 1/2 years to complete this. It took my breath away.

Back in Business

The Juki arrived back the Friday before Thanksgiving week. My gardener (and general helper/builder/handyman) was able to come over and help me lift it back onto the table on Monday. He had helped me with the original set-up and so I was very grateful that he was able to come and help me get it back in place.

I was unreasonably nervous about working with it, and so  I planned to practice on a couple of small quilts before attempting the quilting on Hallelujah!

First, I finished the quilting on this little piece. This was made of some very small courthouse steps blocks I had made. I enjoyed making them, but after getting this far, I realized that I was never going to finish enough of these blocks (with 1/2″ finished logs) to make a whole quilt. I always loved this verse, and thought it was the perfect one to go with “courthouse steps” blocks.


Next, I dug out a really old little quilt. A long-gone dog had chewed on the edges, and I didn’t know what to do with it. Then when I looked at it again, I realized I could just cut the borders smaller, and no one would ever know a dog gnawed on it🙂 I had fun quilting it.


So I was almost ready to start Hallelujah! But I decided I wanted some different thread for quilting. I decided to treat myself to a trip to the quilt shop after the last shot in my knee, the day before Thanksgiving. Because I was determined to start this quilting the day AFTER Thanksgiving.

Look at this wonderful fabric I found at the shop! I could not resist getting a piece of it.


And right on time, Friday morning, I made myself go out into the studio, I practiced a feather or two on a practice sandwich, and then I just went to town. I alternated outlining the lettering with making feathers.


Next I am going to fill in between the feathers with some crosshatching and some pebbles. I’m not sure what I am going to do around the lettering–thinking about some straight line quilting just to make them stand out.



And in the Evening…

At some point mid-day, I am usually done in the studio. Either I’ve started early in the morning, and I’m ready for my afternoon coffee break, or I stop what I’m doing and go to the gym.

After that, its time to sit in my chair and indulge in some mindless stitching. Back in July, I told you about my “obsession” with making a kantha blanket. Most of the time I stitched on this, I was thinking about how it wasn’t a very good composition, and why was I spending so much time stitching on something that I wouldn’t even like when it was done. But my BF encouraged me, saying that the stitching would pull it all together.


When I could see that an end was in sight, I stitched more consistently. It was very relaxing and enjoyable to work on. I used a very light weight cotton gauze for the “batting” and plain muslin for the backing. This made it very easy to stitch through all three layers.


You can probably see–I had one main color of thread (I ordered five spools of the #8 perle cotton in that color) and then I added bits of other colors in the turquoise range, and some oranges, and one lime green. Whatever color I chose, I carried it all the way across the blanket.


Here is the only place I changed the stitching direction, just for a bit of fun.


You can see I used mostly prints, but I made a few of my cross cut squares, and a few with circles to add to the interest.


Pretty much the whole time I worked on this, I was mad at myself for choosing muslin as the backing. How boring! But now that it is done, I like it the muslin back. I can see the stitching, I can see the “mistakes,” and I like that.


When all the stitching was done, I chose one of the multi-color fabrics to use as a binding. I sewed the binding to the back, and hand-stitched it down to the front. And then the part I like the best–I washed it! After washing it (on delicate cycle, because I wasn’t sure about those long stitches,) it is so soft and cozy. I laid it out on my bed, to see it as a whole piece, and my BF was right–the stitching pulls all those colors and prints together. I really like it. Its nice to like a project when you have spent so much time on it🙂

And Lastly…


While patiently awaiting the return of my Juki, I started work on a new series. It started out with inspiration by this weaver. The more I looked at her work, the more I saw the “quilty-ness” of it. Then I started drawing little sketches in my journal. And I decided to let myself play with my collection of hand-dyed fabric–some Cherrywood, some Ricky Tims’, and even some of my own hand-dyes.


These are all really simple designs. But I enjoyed creating them, and choosing “just the right colors” for each. The small pieced squares that I am using in each were created on my Colorado retreat!


I am going to use these pieces for a series on “the character of God.” I wanted to use characteristics that most people could relate to. And then I found an article where the author made two lists–one of characteristics that applied only to God, and the other of characteristics that He shared with man. That helped to define what I was thinking about.


So although they are simple, they also provide a somewhat blank canvas that I can use to embellish with quilting or embroidery just the way I want.




P.S. Just got word that my Juki has been shipped! Yahoo!

Selling my Work

Our church is having a little pre-Christmas boutique sale for the first time this year. I decided I would participate, because I have quite a few quilts from my early years in quilting, that I finally got quilted when I got my Juki. I had the idea to sell them reasonably so that I could donate the money to children in third world countries.

I thought about how sometimes people just want something small at a craft show. I am famous for just buying the cards that artists sometimes offer alongside their paintings. So I decided to make some smaller wall quilts. I started with some of the cross cuts blocks I’ve been making, added some borders, chose Bible verses for each one, and then machine quilted on my Janome. For the first time I used those triangle pieces on the back for hanging. Much easier than adding a sleeve by hand!

So far I’ve made five little pieces:






In the Meantime…

Its been a month since the Juki stopped working, and two weeks since I shipped it to get a new motor. I finished ALL the embroidery on the Hallelujah quilt, so it is waiting patiently for the Juki to return so it can be quilted. In the meantime, I have kept busy with other small projects.

I finally made myself sit down and work on one of the blocks for the Genesis quilt. For some reason, even though I had in mind doing primitive figures for this quilt, I was still intimidated to start. But once I started, it was fun. At first I was only going to put birds and fish on this block, but then I read the verse again, and realized I had to include an octopus and a crab to represent the things that scurry.

Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.


I’ll be back with a couple of other posts showing the small colorful projects that have been keeping me busy.

A Juki Adventure

It sounds so much better to call it an adventure, instead of a bloody nightmare, doesn’t it? When I last left you, I believe I was hopeful that Meissner’s Sewing in Sacramento was going to be able to help me. And I have to give huge kudos to Meissner’s. Within 3 minutes of calling and asking to speak to the service department, I was talking to J., a very knowledgeable service guy. Turns out, yes, they do service Juki’s, but not the long arms. And especially if they are under warranty. So it was back to the dealer that I bought it from.

I’ve decided not to name them here, because essentially I’m a nice person. But this dealership provided absolutely horrible service. In my very first call, I asked to speak to the service department, and it was an entire WEEK, and so many phone calls before that ever happened. In the mean time, there was a lot of hemming and hawing, and broken promises. And here’s the thing. On the FIRST day I spoke to a young man at that store, he said, “I’ll talk to Elbert, he knows everything about the Juki TL2200.” Read on, and remember that name.

So after I found out that Meissner’s couldn’t help me, and it became clear that I would get no help from the dealer that I bought it from, I looked once again at the Juki website for a phone number. When I had looked a few days before, there was no phone number listed, and I did send a pitiful email asking if anybody was interested in helping me. So this time (its now been a week since I first started trying to get help) I saw a phone number. I call Juki, and I ask to speak to the service department. They transfer me, and a REAL PERSON answers the phone. I explain about the alarm, and this nice patient man tells me “unplug this and this and detach this, and put the needle in the down position. Now turn the machine on and count how many beeps before it pauses.” And sure enough, it did pause, and he said, “it sounds like the motor. Now you need to call B.” And then this nice, knowledgeable man says, “I’m Elbert.” Screaming inside. A whole week ago, the dealership knew exactly who to talk to about this problem, but they just kept doing nothing.

Now, once again, I had to play phone tag/multiple emails etc., before I finally got to talk to B. Seems B. is a busy guy, and he is the only one who REPLACES THE MOTOR in this Juki. Yes, my Juki needs a new motor. And to rub salt in this wound, I believe that it needed it from the start. Remember, when I was setting the machine up, that same alarm went off. At that time, I sent an email to the Juki rep, asking about the alarm. He never answered me.

This adventure is not over yet. But the Juki IS in the mail (after MORE multiple phone calls asking for the mailing label.) B. says I’ll get the machine back in two weeks. Hahahaha. That’s two weeks of service-man’s time. I am hoping to get it back in a month.



What inspires you? Most often, I am inspired by other textile artists. And often, their work is a springboard for something I want to try in quilting. If you think that’s wrong, here is a quote I keep in my studio:

Copy the designs of others without shame, and keep going, until you find that the things you are doing are completely original and have nothing to do with anything but what your feel inside. MAXWELL GILLINGHAM-RYAN.

Here are some of the latest artists that have inspired me. But first, I have to share a quote from Mary Fons. She succinctly says something that I have firmly believed for a long time.

 If I wanted to make perfect objects, I wouldn’t use fabric.

Does anybody remember Colorforms from their childhood? Re-stickable forms–I LOVED those things. Can you believe they have an original re-make available?  Anyway, I saw this artist’s work, and just liked the idea of putting simple shapes together–it seemed like a good canvas for embroidery stitches or kantha work, so I made a small piece to experiment with. I don’t know that the name for her work was inspired by the child’s toy, but I liked the idea of that.

Somehow I ran across this weaver’s work, and I am smitten! So smitten that I want to go and take tapestry weaving classes from her! Alas, I have too many other textile areas I am working in, and I have not figured out how to increase the number of hours in the day. I am sure some of her designs will inspire my next quilting experiment.

Here is a wonderful free e-magazine to inspire you. Linda and Laura Kemshell do wonderful and inspiring work, and put together this wonderful magazine that I find most inspirational. Check out page 55–yours truly responded to their call for reader’s work. This same piece is in SAQA’s Northern California Inspirations II exhibit, and it is now being shown in the Olive Hyde Gallery in Fremont, CA. On Saturday, October 29, they are going to have artist talks, which I will be participating in–that will be something new for me.

I am also inspired by words. I finished my “Dust if you Must” sampler, and it is awaiting quilting, which brings up another topic.


That other topic being….THE JUKI. Cue ominous music. Last Wednesday, the alarm went off again. (It went off when I first got the machine, and I just kept futzing with it and it stopped.) There is nothing in the user manual or anywhere online about an alarm on this machine. After fooling around with the machine for an entire morning, I finally called the dealer that I had bought it from. I won’t mention their name yet, but I am NOT HAPPY with their lack of help. They are in Southern California, and I am in Northern Ca. But I still expected better help via phone. ANYWAY, after checking google ONE MORE TIME, I realized that although Meissner’s does not sell Juki long arms, they are a certified repair center. I AM VERY RELIEVED. I am not happy that I am having this problem with a machine that I purchased nine months ago. I will be sure to update you on how this problem is resolved. So for now, quilting has come to a screeching halt. I have plenty of handwork to do on my Hallelujah quilt, so I continue to stitch away at that. Here is something I am doing in the smaller circles. I do like this design very much!


And I will end this post for now. Have an inspiration-filled week! And spend a little time on your art every day. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish.

A Colorful Interlude

You all know I need a little color in my life, right? After working so long on Hallelujah, I allowed myself some colorful play. Mostly meaningless, but fun-to-me projects. Remember this saying that I said I wanted to embroider? Well, one night, I just got a piece of cloth and a blue disappearing ink pen, and went for it.


Here’s my version. Can you see where I personalized it? Its not finished yet, but getting there. Had to share!


Embroider and a needle, instead of paint and a paintbrush.


I recently ran across a new blog, and on the first time I visited, she was doing a giveaway. I was really impressed with one of her paintings, and said that if I won, that was the one I would choose. If you can believe it, I won that giveaway! And so I decided that I would embroider a version of that painting.


A pen instead of a pencil, and I fashioned it after a special fountain pen that my dad had given me.


I was going to make a regular cake instead of the cupcake, but it was just too cute. I left it as-is.


And of course I had to add flowers to the seed stems.


Here’s my design wall. I have been working occasionally on Noah, and then I need to take it off the frame and look at it for a while to see if I’m still on track. The two big blocks are just the start of that Genesis quilt I want to do. And the other blocks were what I let myself play around with on Friday.


I just like making these cross-cut blocks. These are a lot bigger than the last set I did. I wonder if that means I’m on my way to making another big quilt??


Last weekend I went down to Quilting in the Garden. I was pretty excited to see my quilt (#74) hanging at the front display right at the entrance to the show!


And here is another of my quilts (the cross) hanging on one of the magnificent old oaks.


It was really fun to go to this show, and to see my quilts hanging. Its probably not the best venue for my quilts, because they are small, and you can’t really see the details–they are hung pretty high. But what’s not to enjoy about walking around a beautiful nursery and looking at quilts at the same time?