crushed walnuts and a retreat

Is it just me or is a trip to the mall a horrific experience for anyone else out there?  I. HATE. THE. MALL.  When my children were young and trips to the mall were mandatory, I reluctantly allowed myself to be dragged into that hellhole of commercialism.  Now that they are grown and my parental obligations have changed, I avoid the mall like the plague.  (It seems that every single time I venture out, I return with a stomach bug, a headache and/or a cold sore).  And while I vow never to get sucked back into that place, where else is one going to find a PetSmart for their crushed walnut shells?

I talked about the small pincushions that I was making for my guild members.  I finished the tops of all 22 and set out in search of the celebrated ground walnut shells which, when used as a filler, can actually sharpen pins and needles.  I’d spent a lot of time piecing the tops and making the backings out of good quality medium weight linen, so I wasn’t prepared to use some cheesy polyester fill for the finish.

I did find the walnuts.  There was one bag on the shelf.  One bag that weighed about 70 pounds, (I kid you not), one bag that cost more than a good king crab dinner.  We won’t discuss the long lines waiting to check out or the massive traffic jam on the highway.  I calmed myself by reflecting upon the upcoming retreat, reminding myself that all would be worth it in the end.

At home I had to ask the Go-To Guy to drag that damn bag indoors.  Not wanting to take a chance that Miss Tula would somehow upend it or spread it out for the cats, I had him leave it on the sunporch.  It took about an hour to figure out how to fashion a small inner bag of crashed walnut to fill the cushions without spilling any of the fine sand on the machine plate.  In the end, I came up with a nice result – pleasing to the eye and functional.

The question is – where will I find the time to finish the other 21 pincushions before Friday!

PART 2 – retreat

I was unable to complete the pincushions – no surprise there.  But I did make it to my retreat and boy howdy, was that ever fun!


Quilters were met by this tea and coffee station parked just outside of the sewing area.  The Interlaken Inn (Lakeville, Ct) knows how to throw a quilter’s weekend!




I’ve always known my guild sisters to be prolific, but I’d never had the opportunity to see them in action!  Honestly, I cannot begin to describe the productivity that occurred over our three day weekend.  I was continually astonished!  It seemed as if each quilter turned out several quilt tops!  (not to mention the assorted smaller projects – ornaments, placemats, pillow cases, etc)



Gigantic kudos to Kristin, who worked so long and hard to make ours the most memorable retreat.  Katy had a lovely way of expressing her gratitude …DSCN9095 DSCN9080DSCN9081

This was the prettiest bag of the ball!

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Pink Giraffes will be making their way to a new home today.

DSCN9066Fresh out of the washer and dryer, puffy, scrunchie, soft as a cloud.  Love.



It was really hard to part with the backing … little pirates!


My favorite part of this piece was the making of the background fabric.  Rather than go with a solid, I decided to ‘make’ my background from many creams and whites.  I loved the outcome and plan to use this technique again.

I am going on my first quilting Retreat next weekend.  Words cannot express how much I am looking forward to this.  While I have experienced amazing spiritual retreats in the past, I have never opted for a weekend of quilting with my guild.  I wanted to make something small for each participant …



22 ‘aurifil’ pincushions!  Today I will hunt for shredded stuffing and neutral background fabric.  Hope I can finish in time!

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home again

Now that we’ve turned back the clocks I am traveling home from work in darkness.  This is the season when the male deer lose their minds and go racing across highways in pursuit of a mate.  It is a high tension time for me as a driver.  So many lives ended on our stretch of highway – so needless.  My night driving skills (and confidence) lessen in the pitch darkness.  It’s good to get home.  (this image taken early in the am)



There was some knitting over the weekend brought on by the loss of a pair of beloved signature circular needles.  The longer and deeper I hunted for them, the more UFO’s I uncovered.  Remember these cashmere socks knitted on Nantucket last year?  FINISHED and blocked.

DSCN9030This dear little Brock sweater brought into the light, sleeves started!


DSCN9035And Balloon pants in progress – pattern recovered and enthusiasm renewed!

Tula was very very ill last week.  She woke in the night struggling for breath.  A frantic race to the emergency vet revealed a collapsed lung.  Later, our own Dr. Wonderful diagnosed pneumonia and anemia.  Many hours in the oxygen chamber followed by daily nebulizer sessions and antibiotics and my pup is gaining and on the mend.  It was terrifying people, simply terrifying.  And P.S. . . NO, I still cannot find the signatures.

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halloween stitchin’

DSCN9001DSCN9004DSCN9000The elephants found their way to a new home, a nursery that welcomed them warmly!  This was a fun piece to create and its owners seemed very happy with it.

DSCN9006On the knitting front – leg warmers in Quince & Co, pattern by Plucky.

DSCN9013This was my post last night, waiting for Trick-or-Treaters who never showed!  Ours is a quiet country road that the goblins avoid.  I’m always ready for them even though that means Butterfingers will be ‘left over’.  The holiday poundage begins …DSCN8998Goodbye to Halloween – a favorite holiday that comes and goes too quickly.

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baby boom

DSCN8992This little baby is 4 months old!  She is so stubborn, but also very sweet.  And speaking of babies – where are they all coming from!!!  I’ve sent out three quilts since August and I have four more to complete.  DSCN8991More pink and gray, this time with giraffes!  DSCN8996DSCN8994There will be 3-D pinwheels and a pieced background for this quilt.  I’m also hoping to add a rainbow of appliquéd shapes inspired by Carolyn Friedlander’s work in the softest pastels.  Back to the machine!

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if you are a quilter

…then you begin thinking about Christmas in September. I want to make the Go-To Guy a new ‘couch’ quilt – his 10+year old flannel is fraying. I want coverage (he is 6’5″), I want warmth and I want color.  Also, something quick and easy that works hard to deplete my monster scrap bins.DSCN8968
In short, I want a quilt-as-you-go. And I’ll back it in the softest flannel ever.DSCN8982There are many tutorials out there that can show you how to make these whimsical quilt-as-you-go blocks.  The main thing is to use your walking foot – it’s going to make all of the difference between fun and puckering!DSCN8967DSCN8983The more color – the better!  I love that when the top is finished – so will be the quilting!  I think that I will outline each block and perhaps do a bit of embroidery tie-off.

I missed Rhinebeck’s Sheep and Wool this year …. intentionally.  I love this fair so much and always err on the side of extravagance, so I pulled back, remembering that I have a wonderful retreat to look forward to in November.  We are going to be staying in the Berkshires – a place where one can find some spectacular yarn!  (deep sigh).  It’s all good.

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buffalo in ny

We had our first frost of the season over night.  I am worried about the little black stray cat that I have been feeding – another drop off by the side of the road.  She is painfully thin and terribly shy, but I have been enticing her with good food and the shelter of the potting shed for weeks now.  I need to get her inside the barn where the wood stove chugs along all winter.  She is borderline feral, but I am patient.

Hawthorne Threads came out with a new line called Roam.  Normally this kind of thing doesn’t set me on fire, but I have a friend who asked me to keep my eyes open for buffalo cottons!DSCN8956DSCN8957DSCN8958DSCN8959DSCN8955We have buffalo!  This line is growing on me – I especially love the big buffalo check.  It’s going to be hard to choose just one backing fabric from this line.DSCN8960Tula gets cuter by the minute!  She has resigned herself to the harness and no longer tries to out roll it!  She has done an amazing job of winning over the hearts of her people. DSCN8962Carolyn Friedlander.  Facing East.  She is a genius.

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Another request for a baby quilt brought solid fabrics to mind. In this case, the super soft line from Art Gallery – Pure Elements. Since I rarely work with solids, I’ve had to pump up the stash! AGF offers a beautiful brochure from which to choose.DSCN8947DSCN8948The request was for a quilt that had modern lines.  I chose simple triangles in ‘boy’ colors.DSCN8950DSCN8952The temptation to include the navy Cotton and Steel print was irresistible.  I love the way it plays with the solids.DSCN8951DSCN8949Now for the relaxing part – hand sewing the binding in place.  I see many more solid projects in the future.

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leaving nantucket

September passed by and October tiptoed in behind.  My blog has been silent, but I have been busy unpacking and packing, hosting family and returning to work.  Oh, and then there’s that puppy.  It’s been so many years – I’d forgotten how much work is involved in raising a puppy.  Tula is hard headed and stubborn.  She is also jolly and hilarious.  It’s a winning combo and I love her.  I wish that Harley shared my feelings for his new ‘sister’.  He. Does. Not.  I am not entirely discouraged – I have seen him play with her when he thinks that no one is looking… silly old man, he has his dignity.

It was hard to leave Nantucket this year.  The Grey Lady was as inviting as she could be and I tried to live in the moment, every moment.  Still, one has to go home.  Reluctantly.

I am lucky to live in apple country where autumn’s arrival is faithfully signaled.  It begins with the songs of the pickers and the chugging of the large crate-filled trucks traveling back and forth between orchards.  Most of the red varieties have been picked, but the yellow crop is late this year.  Down the hill a field of butternut squash lie basking in sunlit rows, waiting their turn to be gathered.  They remind me of sun bathers expectantly turning their pale winter skin to the sun.  I have soup on my mind and artisan breads.  I could linger this morning, watching the sun rise, walking the dogs and pulling summer weeds.  But there is the day job.


We left as the sun was rising.  The memories will sustain me throughout the coming year.



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a bag for Nantucket

DSCN8888DSCN8879DSCN8880DSCN8881DSCN8882DSCN8883The Aeroplane Bag by Sew Sweetness, modifications and mishaps by me.  I truly love this bag. I broke a needle near the end and scatologic mutterings may have been heard, but none of that dampens my enthusiasm for this nearly finished project.  Using an assortment of linen and regular cottons by Cotton and Steel took my bag over the top, and while there are a few things that I might change, I am ridiculously happy.DSCN8884This happy crab helped babysit the pup while I sewed.  Tula is getting accustomed to the long hours I like to spend in my sewing studio.  It’s hard to believe that she’s been here for over a month and that I will have to leave her in the capable hands of a puggie mom for a week.  She’s going camping over Labor Day weekend with Stella and Stanley (pug and boston terrier) and I will miss her.  Lately she has begun snuggling into my arms and purring like a kitten before sleep.  Her eyes which were the deepest navy when she arrived, have turned to chocolate and she has an ancient expression – wisdom beyond her age.  So smart, this breed.  Unnervingly so.

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