A Fiber Artist Approach to Holiday Giving

Every little bit counts!

Tis the season to share with others. It has always bothered me how after giving great thought to gifts for friends and family, I find myself often wrapping my gifts in paper that will quickly go in the trash. There are of course paper alternatives such as newspapers etc that can be recycled. But, this year I am taking a different approach.

My studio has a wall of fiber stash…..cloth, ribbons, thread that, at this point in my life, I try to use before buying new. For my Quilt Beyond Borders quilts, I use this stash. This year I decided to see if I could also use some for wrapping my gifts.

I found a wonderful site that gave me an excellent start for creating fabric bags: Longanberry Handmade. The owner of the site, Susie, lives in Los Angeles and promised that it would take only 5 minutes to make one of her bags. She was right! Her measurements are for small size wraps for things like gift cards:

However, once you have made one, it is very easy to alter size. For special gifts, any fiber artist can immediately see options for creating a fancier design — and I can imagine those with embroidery machines could enhance in all sorts of magical ways. I haven’t quilted any of my bags as it really isn’t necessary but  that would be an option too.

Options include contrasting tops or coordinating fabrics among gifts for someone.

I love this approach to gift wrapping. And, one might consider that it adds another dimension to your gift as the gift bag can most definitely be ‘regifted.’  🙂

Have fun!

Linking to Nina Marie Off the Wall Friday so you can check out what other artists are doing this week. She also has some great gift suggestions for quilters this week!

The Places We Go

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
Dr. Seuss

The past month has been a whirlwind of travel and play.

Early in November I was back at our home in Victor, NY and we discovered the Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame was giving a concert. If you ever have a chance to attend one of Peter’s concerts, do go. His music is timeless, his performance endearing, and his words uplifting. Towards the end of the concert, all ‘children’ were invited on stage to sing along to Puff the Magic Dragon……..you can catch a glimpse of me in the rear to the left of a red checked shirt. 🙂

Next we were on to red rock country in northern Arizona to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday. ‘Lovey’ is an amazing woman who still volunteers at the local high school.

Jerry and Mom

In the midst of all these travels, I have been keeping up with my fiber art….a quilt went out to Quilts Beyond Borders before I left:

I have continued to play with the online activities of Karen Ruane. She currently has two groups running  – a twelve month course in creating Artist Books and a short course on creating projects from handkerchiefs. I am participating in both of these and was able to carry along a needle case project to stitch away on in my down time.

Needle case inside

Needle case front

Composition for page in artist book

I also was honored to have two of my “ice” quilts included in the November/December issue of Machine Quilting.

And so, November ends with my studio filled with holiday projects and my heart filled with gratitude at the life I have been given.

Follow Your Heart

When in doubt,
follow your heart.

A simple trip to the Quilting Bee in Spokane to drop off JOY! for an upcoming local quilt show quickly turned my planned studio time this week upside down. As I was leaving the store, a Halloween display caught my eye.

A quick text to my daughter confirmed the images would make a perfect Halloween quilt. So, I picked out a few fabrics, did some quick guesstimates on yardage, and committed myself to sewing up a new quilt in the next few days.Soon my design wall was rearranged with ‘works in progress’ shoved over to a side while I contemplated design options. The ‘free pattern’ offered in the store was way too detailed if I was to produce this lap quilt in a few days.

I think all my efforts for Quilts Beyond Borders contributed greatly as by Wednesday I had a front and back cut, pieced,  and was assembling my quilt sandwich. 

Much to my own amazement (and selection of very, very simple big free motion quilting lines), I was able to quilt my quickie project in a day!

While the results are most definitely not ‘Houston’ standards, the most important ‘judge’ of my halloween quilt gave it a definite nod of approval.

Linking to Nine Marie”s Off the Wall Friday to see what other quilters have been up to.



A Weekend with Patricia Belyea

Always desire to learn something useful.

Last weekend I traveled over to Seattle for a two-day workshop by Patricia Belyea on piecing complex curves. I only attend hands-on programs every few years so this was a special experience for me. In the past year or so,  I noticed a real ‘urge to piece’ rather than relying upon fused appliqué in my art quilts. Couple that with an increasing desire to quilt children’s quilts for Quilts Beyond Borders and attending a program on piecing curves seemed a good idea.

I had met Patricia at a conference in Takoma, WA several years ago and liked her. I thought I could learn from her so I took the plunge and indulged myself. I can say that I was definitely pleased with the workshop. It was held in her ‘store’ in the basement of her house so the workshop space was small but, with only five participants, it was fine. Everything was provided from machines to lunch – we only were asked to bring fabric.  As if to enhance our learning experience, we were surrounded by shelves of the Yukata cotton that Patricia sells.

Patricia is an organizer at heart as well as a designer and this was probably one of the most well thought out workshops I have ever attended. She provided excellent teaching materials which we could take home and spaced out the teaching elements over the two days. There was plenty of leeway for each of us to proceed at our own comfort pace and Patricia was always at our sides if we asked for help, or if she, almost magically, sensed before us that we needed some guidance.

I used Yukata cottons for the workshop – not a requirement – but since Patricia has focused on using Yukata in her own extensive work, I decided to follow suit while learning from her. I knew that would be a stretch for me  as my own tastes tend more towards batiks but it was a good decision as I discovered how easy the cotton was to work with.

We progressed over two days from sketching a curved pattern, transferring it to freezer paper, cutting and finally stitching using Patricia’s method. Each of us created unique well executed 18″ quilt blocks that lay perfectly flat. Since I remembered frustrations years ago with piecing  a sketch and getting it to lie flat, I was really delighted with my results. I think it is a mark of Patricia’s skill as an instructor that each of us experienced success.

For me the real test was could I go home and have as much success as I did at the workshop. I had completed two blocks and cut pieces for a third before I left Seattle. Since I returned home I have been able to stitch together the third block and also complete a fourth block competently.

What will I do with the four blocks and what is the real value of the class for me?  I suspect the four blocks will be transformed into a set pillows. This reflects the fact that I was focusing upon technique in constructing the blocks….when I create art quilts, I prefer to start with a vision or a message that the piece is meant to convey so I can’t quite envision the blocks up on one of my walls. However I did enjoy working with the cotton and looking through Patricia’s huge inventory in person, I did purchase a few as ‘they spoke to me’ so I am sure Yukata will be sneaking into my future projects.

The real value of the weekend is some new insights into piecing curves in a composition and taking the technique forward into other areas. We had a glimpse of the potential towards the end of the workshop as Patricia shared her efforts with inset circles and curvy lines. Without a doubt, this is what made the workshop a huge success for me. I know I have learned the basics and I am sure I can adapt the process to enhance my own art.

It is always exciting to be exposed to new ideas …….I firmly believe it is what keeps us young at heart. If you are interested in learning more about piecing with curves, I hope you will check out Patricia’s workshops. They sell out early so you need to plan ahead!

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can see what other artists are up to.

To Fill a Design Wall!

With the completion of Ground Zero Reborn, my design wall looked quite blank. My plans for my next art quilt were uncertain so I wondered if perhaps I would be staring at a blank wall for a bit. Not to worry! Quilts Beyond Borders NW Regional Coordinator Susan Schmidt mailed me a collection of odds and ends that had potential for some nautical themed quilts if there was someone to pick up the challenge.

I can’t say that I would ever have purchased most of the prints but, hey, a challenge is a challenge. So, over the past weeks my design wall has been busy.  This first top used a number of blocks that had already been pieced. I was able to sort through the miscellaneous strips and odd remnants and come up with what I considered an acceptable layout:

The next top that I sent Susan used some of the fabrics that appealed a bit more to me. Once again, I received a few blocks and miscellaneous strips. These were accompanied by a large amount of that mini-anchor fabric. I instinctively would have preferred the border to have been some of the darker blue fabric but I needed to work with what was before me.

The next group of fabrics that I tackled were quite strange and I have not yet actually completed a top. However, I have a plan! 🙂

I have purchased some blue fabric that matches the blue in those mini blocks quite well and plan to fill in blue so those pictorials are surrounded by blue strips with those mini-blocks interspersed. I haven’t quite found the energy yet to tackle the math for cutting the needed pieces so this group is now sitting in a pile on my floor while I play a bit with Karen Ruane on a project called Artist Books (more about that in another post). There will be one more top at least, I expect, for Quilts Beyond Borders, using up the remaining fabric. It has been a good use of my time. I find the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi to be quite true: “For it is in giving that we receive.” I find great comfort in the thought that these functional quilts may bring comfort to children who are in difficult times.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can check out other artists!


Goodbye 2016!

The last day of the year! Perhaps, more than ever, I am grateful to have 2016 fade into memory. Looking back over my blog, it has been a good year. Perhaps my eagerness to let it go stems from the fact that the post-Thanksgiving weeks of 2016 seem to have been filled with family illness and stress. Who would not want to have that fade away!

But, when I step back and glance through my posts for the past year, I have to admit that it has been a pretty productive year.  I completed a number of art quilts that I am pleased with, donated a number of quilts and tops to Quilts Beyond Borders, entered a few shows and was pleased to be accepted, took the time to take two classes with Elizabeth Barton, and continued throughout the year to be part of Karen Ruane‘s hand stitching groups.


Ghost Trees appeared in exhibits in Taiwan and Washington State


After the Storm made its debut at the La Conner Museum Annual Quilt Fest

In my personal life, it was my first complete year living out west and the most memorable event undoubtedly was the birth of my second grandchild, Miriam, in March. Her arrival certainly dominated my life for the remainder of the year. Of that, I have no regrets.

img_0697My beautiful grandkids

2017 holds so much potential…….I am still sorting my goals and projects for the coming year. For now, I am content to say good bye to 2016 and wish everyone:

Happy New Year!

‘Tis the season

“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy.
I woke and I saw that life is all service.
I served and I saw that service is joy.” 

― Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran’s words have been one of my favorite mantras for years. I first heard it in a workshop I took with author Tom Crum many, many years ago. It was probably one of the spurs that drove me to work with Tom for twenty-five years facilitating getting his work out in the world.

As the holiday season descended upon us, it felt only appropriate to me that one of my goals should be to complete another quilt top for Quilts Beyond Borders.  I mentioned in a post last October that Susan Schmidt, my region’s coordinator, had given me a huge bag of fabric cuttings, all from one manufacturer, and asked if I would like to try to ‘design’ a few quilts out of them. I had already sent Susan two quilts and what was left was an assortment of strips of varying widths and lengths that looked as though they were mainly selvedge strips, perhaps from backings that long-arm volunteers used in quilting tops. I emptied out the bag, cleared my design wall and started pinning up random pieces to confirm if there were enough for an actual quilt.


I could see that there were just enough if I was really careful in how I pieced the strips. So, for a few days, as I worked on other projects in my studio, I gradually rearranged my ‘raw material’ into a more pleasing layout.


I gave the project a working title of “Waste not, want not” as I stitched pieces together. There was a certain amount of pleasure in knowing that even the remnants of other donations were being sewn together to give someone a gift of warmth in this holiday season. Hats off to this wonderful organization that provides comfort and support to those in need throughout the year.

What ever happened to World Peace?


‘World Peace’ was the working working title for the art quilt I blogged about in early September. The irony of that title often had me chuckling this fall. It was a great idea – combining the old Irish language of Ogham with popular symbols of peace to create a vertical wall hanging. The 3 inch square blocks containing the symbols offered an opportunity to spotlight my hand stitching. A technique I had used years ago to reverse appliqué blocks using some of my Bernina’s decorative stitches felt like just the right touch. I had the perfect piece of hand dyed fabric for the background.

For six weeks I sampled and played. All seemed to be going well. But then I began to pull it all together. The thought ‘world peace is never easy’ went through my mind repeatedly. The best laid plans just didn’t come together just right. I found myself thinking ‘ well, that doesn’t look too bad’. There came a point where I stepped back and realized that I was thinking that thought just too many times.

And so, ‘World Peace’ was put to rest. I withdrew from the challenge and redirected my energy to other projects. I have been busy with Quilts Beyond Borders and my class Wrapped and Bound in Stitch with Karen Ruane. It has been a few weeks now. I think it is the first time I have actually stopped creating a piece so far into the process. It definitely felt strange at first – particularly because no other art quilt project replaced it. It was the last piece that I had planned to make in 2016.

And, world peace? Well, it certainly doesn’t look like the world is embracing it just now……..the past few days I have wondered about cutting up those less than perfect elements of my abandoned quilt and reconstructing a more chaotic portrayal, perhaps with lots of question marks… After all, ‘world peace’ would be messy and certainly not simple. The bottom line though is that, really, it is not a concept to be given up on.  We will see what 2017 brings. For now, I will leave you with a song that speaks to the need far better than any words I can write. How sad that this performance was 26 years ago and we are still waiting.

Making Choices

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven!

It’s been a month since I last wrote. For my own sanity, I needed to take a break. I hold that life is good and can always find the silver lining in every cloud. But, even for me, the optimist, there are times when life can get pretty overwhelming and lots of deep breaths are called for. 🙂 And so, about a month ago, I realized that I was going to have to make some choices and one choice was to let my blog rest for a few weeks so I could put my energy to other purposes.

I will say that while I haven’t been blogging, I have been sewing. Unfortunately, I can’t share my major hand stitching work just yet as it involves some gifts. But, I can share a photo of my latest quilt top for Quilts Beyond Borders. I had the pleasure a week or so ago to have lunch with the regional coordinator for my area, Susan Schmidt. She is totally dedicated to getting as many quilts made as is possible for the refugees in this world. At our lunch, she handed me a huge bag of fabric cuttings, all from one manufacturer, and asked if I would like to try to ‘design’ a few quilts out of them. Always up for a challenge, I took the bag home with me. My cousin and I sorted the pieces and there were enough for me to piece what I call my ‘string quilt.’


I estimate that I should get at least two more tops out of the scraps. There are a number of larger rectangles which should easily yield one top. After that, I will have a collection of much smaller pieces. Any thoughts on creating a top from them are greatly appreciated.

I should mention, if you happen to be visiting the Houston Quilt Festival in early November, Quilts Beyond Borders will have a table in the Expo. It was just a year ago in Houston that I learned about the organization. I understand they will have 300 kits there for anyone to pick up and take home to piece a quilt. Do take home a few if you are there.

I do hope to share more of my activities over the past few weeks in time – just re-learning to pace my writings. In the meantime, you can go over to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday and draw some inspiration from some other artists.

Thought I would also share a rendition by Judy Collin’s of my opening quote. It is timeless.








It’s Been a Good Week

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.


It is always nice to feel validated. I create to make my own statements and follow my heart in doing so. But, then it is always good to be acknowledged.

Earlier this week, I learned that one of my quilts, Ghost Trees, has been accepted into the exhibit, “Material Measurement – Magnitude, Meaning & Makers”. It will be on display from October 1 – November 26 at the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim – Dungeness Valley in Washington.


No sooner than I had sent the piece off to Sequim, the latest copy of the SAQA Journal showed up on my computer. I was delighted to find that one of my favorite art quilts, Journey, is featured in the Member Gallery. The theme for the gallery is ‘adventure’.


While it feels good to have my work acknowledged, for me the best feelings come when I can be of service. Happily, while so much good news had been coming my way, I was able to create another quilt top for Quilts Beyond Borders. It is a very simple design of 5″ blocks that I found on the web, but I am really pleased with the results:


With hope that you all have an equally good week in your futures!

One Step at a Time

By perseverance the snail reached the ark.
Charles Spurgeon

Progress is made one tiny step at a time. So it was with this week. As I gaze over at my design wall while I write this, I see reminders of this week.


No more progress on the ‘World Peace’ theme piece and that ‘Aspen 3’ art quilt is still waiting to be bound. However, the ‘Morning Walk’ art quilt is now completely quilted. Threads are hanging and binding remains but the basic quilting is complete. I am relieved. I am getting antsy to move on. ‘Morning Walk’ is the last of the major summer projects and fall is beckoning!

Over on the right corner of my sewing table you can see two piles of fabric squares. They represent my next Quilt Beyond Borders top. I picked a very simple almost random block pattern and got those pieces cut this week. I hope to have it completed by next week.  🙂

My goals for fall obviously include the ‘World Peace’ piece but also a new class with Karen Ruane. This new venture is called ‘Wrapped and Bound in Stitch‘. The project for the class is what Karen calls a wrapping cloth. There is considerable leeway, as always, in what we create. Her emphasis will be on a pieced cloth with a child theme. However, I  think I am going to choose to work in primarily white-on-white with a circle theme. Back in June, I posted a photo of some lace cloth that I had made. Over the summer I gradually added on to that start and as I begin this new class, I hope to continue to grow those pieces into a fuller cloth. It will be an adventure and I am eager to begin now that my summer projects nearing finish.

This week also brought some pleasant news. My art quilt, Emergence, was selected to tour in Brazil for 2017 with Patchwork Design 2017. It will be part of a group of quilts representing the Contemporary QuiltArt Association that I joined this past year. I am delighted to have one of the 28 quilts that the Brazilian organization picked and will be shown in venues including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Final reminder!

The 2016 SAQA Benefit Auction that I wrote about in August will be starting on September 16. It is a wonderful opportunity to acquire some beautiful works while supporting a good organization. You can learn more here.

Linking to Nine Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

Where did the week go?

“How did it get so late so soon?”
Dr. Seuss

It seems the last time I looked at the calendar, it was Monday. Where did this week go? All of a sudden, it is September! Fortunately I try to keep a photo journal of my days so I can look back and confirm that I have been involved in some productive activities.  😉

Along the way, I made an executive decision that I personally was dissatisfied with the quality of my finished quilts for Quilts Beyond Borders. The bindings must be machine stitched to guarantee they will stand up to wear and tear that one might envision in refugee camps, etc. And, my skills at machine stitched bindings have never been great. Rather than abandoning an organization that I truly want to support, I inquired more about doing simply quilt tops. For now, this seems a better path for me. So, I created my first top this past week.


For several weeks, I also have been considering ideas for a quilt challenge that had drawn my attention. The challenge, entitled Dream On, is sponsored by Stretching Art and Tradition. If you would like to learn more about the group and their history, please check out their websiteDream On is their 18th year of challenges!

Of course, the first step was to decide on a theme for my piece. The description of the challenge suggests:

For Stretching Art and Tradition 18, Dream Big! Dream house, dream job, dream body, dream quilt – if dreams were reality, what dream would you have come true?  This year, complete a quilt 18″ wide by 36″ long using any technique you choose to represent your dream.

After meditating a bit on the words ‘dream on’, the persistent image that kept repeating in my mind was my daughter’s classic response when someone asks her what she wants: “World Peace”. 🙂  And so, I chose ‘Peace’ as my theme as since way back in the 60’s, peace has been a theme and value that has always resonated in my life.

Over my trip to Seattle, I contemplated how to create an art quilt on ‘peace’ in the size constraints of the challenge. About the same time, I was reminded both by a DNA test that I participated in and a note from a new-to-my-knowledge distant cousin that my heritage is strongly Irish. Coincidentally, a ring that I had purchased years ago with an inscription in the ‘old Irish’ language of Ogham resurfaced. Ogham is written with a series of lines running down a central line. It can run horizonally or vertically. With that knowledge, it was a natural jump to the gaelic word for peace, síocháin, and its depiction in Ogham along a vertical line.

And so, this week I began to draft out the beginnings of my challenge piece. The design is far from complete but a base plan  is hanging on my design wall – in paper and in cloth – for inspiration as I make further design decisions.


Am I as far as I thought I would be with the design process at this point? Definitely not! Life does have a way of intervening. But, at least I have started!

Linking to NinaMarie’s Off the Wall Friday.

On Course

My legacy is that I stayed on course…
from the beginning to the end,
because I believed in something inside of me.

Tina Turner

This was a challenging week to stay on course here in the U.S. The events in Orlando were horrific and rightly monopolized the new media online and on screen. Juxtaposed for anyone who follows the soccer world were major series in Europe and the Americas that offered hours upon hours of sports relief. Still, I did manage to use the week to plug away at my drawings for Elizabeth Barton’s course and make progress on other fronts.

Hidden nicely away in a corner of my studio was a quilt waiting to be completed for Quilts Beyond Borders. It offered an easy opportunity to stitch away at my Bernina in the midst of all my sketching. It now off to QBB headquarters and will soon be on its way to a young orphan or refugee somewhere in this world.


I continued to sketch for Inspired to Design and produced many images, a few of which I deemed worthy to share with Elizabeth.

IMG_9351 IMG_9350


I found her comments quite helpful, as always. She thought the last of the three did hold promise. The first sketch of the flower stalk also was ‘interesting’ but likely needed some companions to be a successful quilt. The middle sketch of the woman walking excited her the least – being too static. Of course, that would be the sketch that I most want to follow through on. I do like the flow of veggies in the bottom drawing and will probably work on that more in this week’s exercises. However, that woman intrigues me. She was dressed totally in black and walking along a street in a village in Crete. I definitely see an art quilt entitled Morning Walk in it and will continue to play with it on my own. While I enjoyed sketching the flower stalk, I don’t feel it would hold my interest long enough to follow through with its detail, so I suspect it will be filed away in a folder for another time.

I did spend a number of hours watching both UEFA Euro 2016 and COPA 2016 soccer this week and that fit in very nicely with my hand stitching. You might recognize the background of this piece. I am working on the back side of what will be a pouch.

IMG_9343 IMG_9344

This coming week promises more sketching with Elizabeth and undoubtedly some more hand sewing as I follow both soccer events. I will be linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday, so please go check out what other artists have been up to. I always find the entries inspiring.



Life is good!

The present moment is the only moment available to us
and it is the door to all moments.

Thich Nhat Hanh


When you are 5 weeks old, it is natural to be in the present moment. A shoulder to lean on creates contentment. If only we could all stay so present and find contentment in where we are currently in our lives.

As always, this week provided its own challenges to being in the present moment for me. But, moving forward one step at a time with my art, it really was a good week.

A note from my contact person at Quilts Beyond Borders revealed a definite need for quilts to fill requests from India, Ethiopia, and for Syrian refugees. This spurred me on to work not only with some fabric provided by Quilts Beyond Borders but also to delve into my stash for other ideas. Some fabric squares I picked up at Ikea a year or so ago magically formed a base for a second quilt top.



At the same time, my mind was busy with ideas for my next art quilt. I enjoyed working on a sea theme so much in my last piece that I have decided to do a series. Taking inspiration from a photo of the Irish coast, my studio floor is now laid out in possible fabrics. With luck, I will be sharing more in the coming weeks on this exciting project.


And, finally, I leave you with a breath of spring. The weather in Spokane has been absolutely perfect the past week and spring is definitely in the air. My hand stitching simply could not resist celebrating the re-emergence of wild flowers around our property by taking on a flower theme on this delicate antique cloth I have been working on.


Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog.

Remembering Children

Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics.
I think perhaps with time,
instead of there being a politicization of humanitarian aid,
there will be a humanization of politics.
Audrey Hepburn

A certain part of this week was devoted to assembling another quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders, an organization that provide quilts to children in need throughout the world. I first learned of them when I attended that Houston Quilt show last fall. There are so many organizations working for the betterment of children worldwide and that is a good thing. UNICEF, for whom Audrey Hepburn gave countless hours of time, reminds us on their website that 16,000 children die daily worldwide, mostly from preventable or treatable causes.  I wanted to give some of my volunteer time to help in some way to nurture those in need.  Quilts Beyond Borders provided one means that related to my love of fiber.

I shared the fabric that I had picked out for a quilt last week.


This week that quilt began to take form.


I had enough of the teddy bear fabric left to appliqué the back of the quilt a bit as well.


These quilts are simple to make and fill a definite need. Given my time constraints, the smaller size dimensions requested by Quilts Beyond Borders (40-45″ wide by 48-60″ long), make it easier for me to get a quilt done.  This particular piece now only needs a binding and a washing and it will be off to a new home.

If you are interested in possibly makes a quilt for a needy child, you can find more information on the Quilts Beyond Borders website.


Forging Ahead with a Smile

In 2016,
may your hand always be stretched out in friendship
and never in need.



As this year draws to a close, I continue to wind up assorted projects and plan for some new ones. This past week I finished the quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders that I had started last month.  Here is a view of finished piece:



I also have committed myself to two new classes for the start of the year. I mentioned Karen Ruanne’s Patched Pockets last week. I have added Elizabeth Barton’s Basic Dyeing for Quiltmakers which also starts in January. I know from my last class with Elizabeth that her lessons are chock full of information. I am hoping that some will be review and that I will learn some new hints that will make dyeing seem less like a major project and something that I will be willing to play with on a more regular basis. It is only a five week course and two dear web friends will be in it, so I am really looking forward to it.

With two online classes planned, it remains to be seen how much additional fiber work I will get done. I have one stitching project relating to Paris that is in process. I also hope to tackle a new art quilt based upon this photo that I took from our front window.


The trees will be a challenge – I hope to create a layered abstract effect so you may see a lot of experimentation amidst my reports on my online studies.

I hope you will be joining me on my journey through 2016. It is bound to be an adventure and I appreciate your companionship!

On the road again!

I am a pilgrim and a traveler
And I love the journey like I love my home.

Ellen Stapenhorst

I am heading back East this week. I have had the luxury of staying fairly put this fall as we settled into our new second home. But, life calls and it time to be back on the road again. It brought to mind a song by a dear friend of mine, Ellen Stapenhorst, called Traveler. If you would like to hear it, please visit Ellen’s website. She has an audio clip of the song on the front page. All of Ellen’s music is inspirational so I think you might find the trip over to her site worth your time.

As I head out, my studio and my head feel a bit at loose ends. Ever been there? Here is a sampling of the many directions I am being pulled in:

  • I have ideas for at least one new art quilt that I am exploring but finding the right fabrics, the right techniques is taking time. Great reminder that we can’t have everything NOW!
  • I also have another quilt in process for Quilts Beyond Borders using some cheery fabric that was sent to me. It is farther along than the photo below, actually ready for quilting, but unfortunately my Bernina 830 jammed and I had to bring it in for service.  I depend on my 830 for quilting so the pinned quilt is lying over in a corner in a roll waiting the return of my machine. A great lesson in letting go and being okay with leaving the studio with a goal not met.
  • Playing with techniques for the new art quilt took me back to playing with those Tsukineko inks again. It didn’t pan out for the art quilt, in fact I thought the results were pretty disappointing……until I heat set my samples. I now have some beautiful small pink silk squares that I know I can cut up and use in my hand stitching projects! A good lesson is just keep trying, just keep trying – what looks like a disappointment is actually just an opportunity to create material for a yet-to-be-designed project.
    pink silk
  • And then there is the whole realm of handstitching! A small project for our new home has been floating around in my studio too with progress slowly happening. In addition, I have been following Karen Ruanne‘s Sampling for Stitch class for the past two months. I haven’t been actually making any sample pages – the purpose of the class. Instead I have just been listening to the videos and taking in the information. I know I will use it in future works. That is what I love about Karen’s classes – it is fine to participate at any level that works for you at the moment.  Looking ahead a bit, I will start 2016 by enrolling and participating in Karen’s new class, Patched Pockets.  And, thinking of that new class, I decided it might be nice to complete some of the pockets from the previous class on pockets with Karen. So, I did spend some time this week completing one.

Which brings me to the end of this bit of a ramble post. If it sounds like I am dashing off in varied directions, it is because I am – both mentally and physically! If you would like to follow my adventures while I return to the East Coast with a stop in NYC, I will be posting on Instagram under the name judywar.

Finally, I would like to offer you one more source of inspiration for your own journey. I follow the blog of Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventures. This week she has a beautifully written post, Why I am Giving My Family Nothing for Christmas. Just like Ellen’s song, it is worth your time to check it out. I am not suggesting you return all those gifts you may have been collecting for the holidays, but her thoughts are a wonderful reminder of what really is important in our journeys.

The Strangest of Weeks

Have you noticed that life has a way
of encouraging us to appreciate the basics.

Monday started out fairly normal….I am working on Christmas gifts so unfortunately I can only share some of my sampling of colors and stitching:

stitches curves handwork notes







But by Wednesday night, my evening could be summarized by this:

IMG_7308What you can just make out barely is my daughter’s violin as she and her husband entertained Judy Kate, me, and their four dogs with some Christmas tunes. We were all bundled in layers and huddled near their gas fireplace, having been without electricity and heat since 3 pm Tuesday. Why? The worst wind storm since about 1995 descended upon Spokane on Tuesday afternoon and by 3 pm the majority of homes were without power. Unfortunately  as I wrote this blog on Thursday evening, lights were still out for many (41% of one major utility company’s customers). Fortunately, for us, my lights and those in my daughter’s home blazed on again about 4:30 am Thursday morning.

Given all that was happening in the world outside Spokane this week, we were wise enough not to complain but to make the best of our discomforts and appreciate our relative good fortune: our properties received very little damage, my daughter’s in-laws offered us a hot breakfast (their power returned quickly), and our favorite take-out place was open by dinner. By Thursday mid-morning we were able to return to life more or less as we know it – a luxury not shared by Parisians or thousands of Syrian refugees today.

And so, I found myself going through today with a deeper appreciation of all I have been blessed with. It is such a gift to be able to stitch and work with fiber again while being so close to some of my family.

Update on my quilt from last week: I was able to continue to monitor my emails on my iPhone throughout the power outage and delighted to learn that Quilts Beyond Borders is sending the quilt I wrote about last week to a Down’s Syndrome School in Guatemala. And, a package is on its way to me with some fabric to use in two more quilts. So, I guess I have found a volunteer project to contribute to in our new ‘second’ home. Excellent timing I would say.

PS Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog – check out some other artists!

Beginning to Network

We have now been in our new ‘second’ home for just over a month. After the quick trip to Houston, I returned once again to getting to know my sewing machine after my long hiatus. While in Houston, I picked up a set of pieces to assemble for a quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders. I had never heard of the organization before, but I was impressed with the volunteers at the booth in Houston.

If you haven’t heard about the organization before, here is a brief history:

Quilts Beyond Borders is a non-profit organization run by volunteers that reaches out to under-served children, mainly orphans, across the world to provide a handmade quilt and spread love and hope.  Over 153 million children in the world today have lost one or both parents.  Quilts Beyond Borders was born in March 2007 with the desire to reach out to these children.  Initially they focused on Ethiopia with the delivery of 230 quilts to orphans. Since then they have delivered thousands of quilts all over the world, including Japan, Haiti, India, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Cameroon, Burundi, Uganda, Russia, Romania, Kenya, USA, Jordan, Gaza, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, Thailand and Mexico.

I have found that simple sewing is a great way to get my creative juices flowing again, as well as to regain some of my free motion quilting skills. The packet I brought home from Houston consisted of simple 5″ blocks to sew together. But, true to form, I can never simply follow directions. It was fun to play with a layout of the seeming random collection of squares:


However, I couldn’t resist looking through my own stash for something that might liven the quilt up a bit more. I am always amazed at the pieces I have picked up at various sales and guild meetings, knowing that eventually they would be useful. Such was the case this time:


With a little more effort this past week, I was able to sew the quilt together and get it quilted.


It will get shipped off  this coming week. I look forward to hearing where the child who receives it lives.

While I know many of us make quilts for many charitable organizations, adding in one more quilt for these kids would not be too much of a challenge. The quilts desired are mainly 40-45″ wide and 48-60″ long. And, if you only have time to piece a top, they will find someone to quilt it for you. If you would like to support Quilts Beyond Borders, you can find more info on their website.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can check out what other artists are doing.