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the king of dogs

We had a challenging week, dog wise.  Harley broke out in a hot spot – nothing unusual for a golden retriever, but when I couldn’t get it under control myself, I had to take him to the vet hospital.  It had spread from a dime sized lesion into one that covered 3/4 of the left side of his face.

Dr. Wonderful shaved and cleaned the area and gave him an injection of antibiotics and steroids.  But we weren’t going home with a clean bill of health.  At Christmas I had noticed gum ball sized swellings on either side of his throat and I knew that trouble was brewing.  Because he has lumps and fatty tumors all over his body, I tried to convince myself to hold off.  When the hotspot appeared I knew that there would be no more holding off; that it was time to investigate further.  So – many samples were taken from various node sites and sent off to be examined.  I haven’t heard back yet, but my vet spoke to me about his concern, which is lymphoma.  So if you are the kind of person that includes pets in your prayer life, please say one for my Baby Dog.  Thank you.DSCN9342He is my heart.  We’ve only had about nine years together and selfishly, I’d like more.

This weekend my guild hosted a Sew In at the library in Garrison.  Fun!  DSCN9322Of course food is an important element in a day of sewing.  I can testify that the chocolate cake Kristin brought was amazing.  SO amazing!  It was good to see everyone.  This is a group of quilters who really enjoy each other and the sharing of fiber ideas.  I’m so glad that I found them and that I was able to convince my friend Elaine to come along.  Sewing and quilting is Elaine’s wheelhouse.  In a short afternoon the group recognized her talents and invited her to join our crew!  She said yes!  DSCN9318DSCN9324Here’s Shelly sewing for the first time since her shoulder injury earlier this year.  Go girl!  We missed her at Retreat, but she’s back!DSCN9325Suzy, I don’t know where you get your energy from, but I wish that you’d find a way to bottle it!  This is the woman who ensures that our spaces are reserved, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  She’s a dynamo.

Back at the house, there was knitting.DSCN9337DSCN9335Mitts and the start of a hat in Cascade Chunky Alpaca.  Dreamy warm – perfect for walking the dogs.  Or even wearing to bed when the house is too cold!  Our old house has the propensity for hanging onto the chilly temperatures.DSCN9327This is a mistake.  This is a mistake in a section of my Spider Web quilt.  I have been working on this piece for well over a year and a half, and this is the first time that I’ve made a big ole glaring mistake!  Just posting it here to show that perfection is overrated.  I am going to finish this quilt before spring arrives (I hope).DSCN9328Although the Spider Web may appear randomly pieced, it is not.  I have put a lot of thought and consideration into each join.  I’m so ready to be done!!!!  I still love this pattern very much and I know that I will enjoy using it and passing it down, but for now – I’m ready to complete it!  I know that you’ve all been there, yes?DSCN9339I adore teapots and I collect them.  See – now you know what to get for me if you feel so inclined!  My friend Lally gave me this sweet cherry pot and another friend sent the most wonderful cozy for it …DSCN9340This is Ayumi Takahashi’s work (Pink Penquin) and one of my most prized fiber possessions!  She is really a genius when it comes to fussy cutting.  She has taken some much deserved time off to raise her young family lately.  We MISS YOU Ayumi, and cannot wait to see you again.

I guess that’s it for this week.  The Christmas decorations are finally down which signals that the new year has begun.  There is a part of me that feels sad – that I’ve somehow missed an important part of the passing holiday and cannot get it back.  Time seems to accelerate these days – how do I explain?  I need to find ways in which to savor each moment.

 

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buffalo gal

We have friends who live in South Dakota.  They are a lovely couple, generous and full of life.  They came to visit two summers ago and a friendship was sealed.  Before they left, the wife (who will remain nameless) asked me to create something for her.  She’d admired my quilts and bags and wanted something for herself BUT … the motif had to be that of buffalo.  ( ahem, clears throat)  I was pretty certain that a buffalo motif would not appear in the designs of those whom I collect.  But wouldn’t you know?  Hawthorne fabrics came out with their line ‘Roam‘ and it was exactly what I had hoped for.  I ordered up a bunch and got cracking.

Meanwhile, bad news made its way to us – our (nameless) friend, who had survived double mastectomy, was again engaged in a battle.  This time it was a spot on her lung and she is currently undergoing treatment.  Our buffalo gal is very courageous.  I am so glad that I was able to finish this piece today – and tomorrow it will be on its way to SD.  Hopefully she does not read my blog – I’d like for this quilt to be a surprise.DSCN9302

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DSCN9301DSCN9308DSCN9309DSCN9299DSCN9300I purchase approximately 90% of my fabric from Hawthorne Fabrics.  They are nearby, their shipping is lightning-quick, they have what I am looking for, and their customer service is first rate.  If I order on Friday morning, I have the goods on Saturday.  They carry so many of the lines that I am looking for, as well as the aurifil thread that I use, and a really great selection of fabric for house ware and garment sewing.  It pains me to say that I am not a fan of their in-house fabric.

The designs are very nice.  There’s a saturation of pastel color ways which work in certain places, but overall, I like a more varied palette.  The really big problem for me is the TEXTURE of the cotton.  It has a rubbery hand, even after repeated washings.  Trying to sew binding on is a lesson in torture – no matter how sharp the needle, my fingers were raw by the time that I finished this quilt.  She did not say so, but I can see that my machine quilter had some issues as well – the fabric seems punctured on the backing.  She was not able to achieve her predictable immaculate work, although I DID love her feathers very much and would not complain …

DSCN9303DSCN9305At the end of the day I was satisfied with this piece.  I love that it is winging its way to my Buffalo Gal to keep her warm, to make her smile, to remind her that we love her and champion her and keep her close in our hearts and prayers.  And really, what more could I ask for?

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a lap quilt

Here she is – my Anna Marie Horner lap quilt.  Truthfully, I was not investedDSCN9291 in finishing this top, but I dreamed about it the other night and it was warmly wonderful – providing comfort to a stranger.  Not one to dismiss the ‘potent’ nature of dreams, I finished her off with echinacea blooms – a healing flower.  I am happy.  This is from the ‘Pretty Potent‘ AMH line.DSCN9287 DSCN9290DSCN9288I’m going to hand quilt it with large stitches.  And then I’m going to use the dickens out of it!  It will be interesting to see how the gray linen wears against its cotton cousins.  One is always warned against mixing fiber content, but I say – let’s use what we have!  My idea of a quilt keeps changing – I’ve gone from serious exhibitor to playful indulgent.  I am letting my heart lead.

There’s been a lot of loss this past week.  I did love David Bowie’s hit ‘Changes’ a lot, but the man, and his sense of style never appealed to me.  We can talk about Alan Rickman at length.  The man was a genius.  His voice – crisp leathery velvet, I could listen all night.  He was hilariously funny too – in that clipped British vein that few master.  I’m going to miss that man.

On a personal note, I lost a dear friend this week.  She was an exceptional human being – an artist, a chef, a gardener, a mentor, a friend, an educator – these are a few of the hats that she wore.  Born in a detention camp, she became a phoenix – a light so vivid, a personality so generous and creative and strong – there will never be another to equal her.  My gratitude is immense – to have known and loved her was a gift unlike any other.  Maggie Tashiro Caccamo – rest in peace, dear friend.  I’ll see you again.  You can teach me a new method – show me something that I need to see.  I use the same scissors that you gave to me every time I sit at my machine.  Your temari ball has a place of honor in a porcelain bowl on the dining table.  You are all around me.

There is a young woman in this family who struggles with addiction and has recently made a courageous, and hopefully, successful change.  These are the times that call for warm quilts.DSCN9295DSCN9297DSCN9293

I know.  Kate Spain.  Her colors demand a smile.  The pattern – ‘Second Wind‘ seems a good fit for this lively group of cottons AND the young woman whose success I so applaud and continue to pray for.  You’ll have to excuse me now- I have a lot of finishing to do!

 

 

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ufo’s

Going back to work after the holiday break was an effort.  While we were celebrating, students were furiously submitting their applications to our popular institute.  My workload has tripled overnight!  It is not unexpected, but it IS always challenging to find the energy needed for the next few months of the admission processes.  One of the things that sustains me is the 15 or 20 minute break I might give myself to visit my favorite knitting and quilting blogs.  I’ve discovered that many of you are making commitments to finish languishing projects, better known as UFO’s (unfinished objects).  Me too.

The Barn quilt has been ready to hang for many months – simply needing a small bit of binding completed.

DSCN9270DSCN9267I hope that you will forgive these pathetic photos – we have not seen the sun at all this weekend.  I love the Barn quilt – a BOM originated by Lori Holt.  My backing is unique – it is dedicated to our old Jack Russell terrier who passed several years ago.  It says – “you left too soon”.  Still miss you old friend.  Oh, and speaking of old friends – here is a blurry image of the Good Dog – the always sweet and patient love bug –

DSCN9232Back to UFO’s.  I had a love affair with anything Anna Marie Horner and it was time to finish up at least one of the three quilts that I created in the last two years.

DSCN9263DSCN9264There is a lot going on here and the quilt was distracting and even a bit disappointing until this past Saturday, when the answer seemed to appear.  You’ll see it again, perhaps midweek, because I am heading for the finish line!  Another piece, originally destined for a larger quilt, will become a table runner.  Because I said so.DSCN9246 DSCN9257DSCN9259DSCN9258Tula’s Christmas stocking is about ready to jump from the needles!  A toe graft and a cotton cherry lining is all that is left to do.  I can finish this and store it away for next year.  DSCN9234This is the back of a quilt that I finished on Retreat.  It is the next one on the list to be hand quilted.  Just about everything else in my piles will go to my friend Kristin, who machine quilts (Under the Rainbow Quilting) like a dream.  I have plenty to keep her busy in 2016 and I suspect that I am not the only one who does!

Does anyone else have the tiniest touch of the post-holiday blues?  I do.  Christmas came and went much too quickly for me this season.  Just as I settled into its twinkly quiet serenity, the new year came roaring out of nowhere!  I need a few more weekends of soft lights and favorite ornaments and the family gathered closely.  Good food, good company, peace and joy all around.

If blogs had a ‘scratch and sniff ‘ icon you might swoon a little over my sunday afternoon meat sauce.  It’s made with rib and chicken breast and veal shanks and it is a winner when coupled with my homemade ‘gravy’.  I use san marzano tomatoes exclusively and frozen basil from my garden … a few other key ingredients and it’s really exceptionally wonderful.  Filling the house with good food fragrances seems to combat the post-holiday blues somewhat …

My sister sent an image from Tybee beach today – this is not too far from where she lives in Savannah.  The winter beach calls to me.  I wish I were there too – I miss my sister so much.

 

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why, hello there 2016

DSCN9224In 2016 I will knit more for myself.  I’ll finally cast on and finish that happily mundane kitchen towel pattern.  I’ll use my favorite color over and over again … a color placed somewhere between a coral and a cherry.

I’ll find a charity that can use my limited skill set.  I’ll devote a good amount of time to it/them.

I’m going to follow Oprah’s lead and make 2016 the year of my best body.  Better food choices, more exercise and lots of music.  I’ve missed the music.  I was driving down the highway a few days ago when a song played on the radio.  The lyrics made me weep.  I drove straight to Barnes and Noble and purchased the CD.  When did I stop listening to music?  I need to spend more time reviewing my gratitude list.  I want to believe more, in humanity, in myself.  I’ve become very skeptical and fearful.  Take this jumbled mess –

DSCN9209DSCN9210As I was turning and twisting I kept swearing thinking – dammit, this is a mistake – I did something wrong here, what a huge waste of time!  In 2016 I will quietly accept that while there ARE mistakes, my work is not.  I am not wasting my time when creating.  Instead, I am feeding my soul and putting a smile on the face of the person(s) who receives my gifts.DSCN9214DSCN9215DSCN9212Once I modify this pattern with my personal touches, I plan to send a bunch of them off to friends and family.  I’m waiting for some metal toothed zippers to arrive and new ribbons.DSCN9225My friend asked me where I found my serenity on New Year’s Eve.  I laughingly replied -‘in the salmon mousse that I made and the angel food cake and of course the liver pate’.  But I wondered – where DO we look for and find our serenity in this crazy world?  I prayed last night for the folks who had gathered in Times Square.  I was terribly afraid that they would be targeted.  I went to bed before the stroke of midnight because I was tired AND convinced that something terrible would happen.  Something so completely out of my control, something that would render me helpless.  I spend more time than I used to away from crowds, from events.  I am jumpy when hearing gunshot in the woods during hunting season.  I don’t want to live in fear.  I don’t know what the answer is.

Maybe I can find more courage in 2016.  Now THAT would be a resolution worth keeping!  Tell me, did you make resolutions for this new year?

 

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saving-it-for-something-special

Waking to snow – finally!  There’s not really enough to speak of, but it made my heart happy.  Watching Tula’s reaction to this first time event was hilarious.  Even after she returned to the house she raced from window to window barking madly at the white landscape.  It took a long time for her to realize that it wasn’t coming indoors to get her!

Instead of racing around on slippery surfaces, I ditched the chores and parked myself in front of the sewing machine and HOUSE reruns.  Happiness.  Many cups of tea later (have you ever had Harney blends?) and with the afternoon light fading, I had a nice little start to a gender-less baby quilt.  (I miss House.  Why won’t they bring him back?)DSCN9198DSCN9197DSCN9199DSCN9201I hope to finish the top today and if the sun ever makes an appearance, I’ll take some photos.  My daughter is opening her Etsy shop soon and has agreed to carry my goods.  I’ll post the information as soon as she is up and running.  Because she will be offering baby shower gifts and the like, I also gathered together someDSCN9202 old favorites …Do you remember ‘Appleville’ by Kaufmann?   I love this line so much and have been hoarding saving it for something special.  Well, my saving-it-for-something-special fabric bundles are getting out of control and threatening to swallow up the sewing room!  You’ll be seeing more of my pretties in the new year.  I hope.  Yes, you will.  I think I can…

While we are on the subject of hoarding collecting, do you remember this Cotton and Steel print?DSCN9204It’s really the most magnificently creepy design cast in a fabulous indigo that December’s half-light won’t allow me to capture.  I know that I am going to have to cut into it in the coming new year.  A shirt?  A tunic?  PJ’s?

It occurs to me that I never posted my grab bag gift from our Guild Christmas event.  I drew a high number and had to wait a bit … oh, was that wait ever worth it!  I chose this beauty –DSCN9186DSCN9187My friend and machine quilter extraordinaire, Kristin McLoughlin (dba Under the Rainbow Quilting) created this wonderful 18″ pillow, backed with a pale blue chambray that I cannot stop admiring!  It may be Essex linen – I’m not sure, but I am sure that I love it and can hardly wait to place it on a couch where it can be admired by all.  For the moment it rests atop my sewing table where you-know-who cannot snaggle it.  Tula is caught up in an advanced chewing stage.DSCN9203She has been very destructive with her toys, with Harley’s toys, with my threads, with any little thing that drops to the floor!  Shoes are in special danger.  Pillows and blankets have become targets.  She’s something else.

To my friend Lally who faces surgery today – I love you and am keeping you in my thoughts and my prayers.

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bff and knitting the blues

DSCN9180DSCN9179DSCN9181DSCN9191A new addiction – machine quilted Boxy Pouches (tutorial: Pinkxstitches).  The smaller size is perfect as a one skein project bag and offers yet another opportunity to showcase my favorite fabrics.  Of course, there are endless possibilities for this bag – when filled with colored pens and pencils it makes great company for the recent coloring book trend.  Cosmetics, small electronic devices, golf ball holder, pet supplies, let your imagination soar.  The pattern is wicked fast and easy.  And free of charge.

My BFF flew in for the holidays to be with her youngest daughter and a select few of her very lucky friends.  Taking turns was hard, but I was patient and had her all to myself on Sunday.  We drove up to Tivoli where we had brunch at the Hotel.  The service was great in a landmark building – warm and welcoming and dressed for the holiday (I highly recommend their fresh quinoa toast, served with delicious bacon and eggs and salad).  Then it was off to Fabulous Yarn where we oohed and ahhed our way through the yarny goodness.  We spent a long time in a tiny space patting the cashmeres – stroking the organic cottons – drooling over the Moving Mud button collections.  My friend GETS it, she gets ME.  Time stands still as we pick up in the exact place where we left off several years ago.  I’ve missed her so very much.

DSCN9193DSCN9194I’d promised myself that I would behave.  But Santa WANTED me to have a skein of ArtYarns ‘Glitter’ cashmere.  And there might have been a skein of Malabrigo as well as a Madelinetosh Light Sock that came home with me.  But I swear that I put the buttons back in the bin!  Earlier in the week this arrived …DSCN9188So I had no business being greedy.  Maybe it was the anticipation and excitement of spending time with my dear friend, maybe it was the warmth that had lingered after a  little holiday time with my son, or could I blame it on the moonlit sky Christmas Eve brought us?  Sweetness all around.  The kind that you just want to go on and on . . .DSCN91922015 was the quietest Christmas that I can ever remember.  It was a merry little Christmas spent without racing or running or mall craziness.  The food was simple and scrumptious.  The company was most precious.  And the knitting (after all was said, done and put away) priceless.

I hope that you all enjoyed your holiday too.

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christmas tree skirts

How did this happen?  I have three Christmas tree skirts in the making.  After trudging down to the local JoAnn fabric store and selecting the battings, I  got busy.  My son needs a skirt for his tree, and I needed a new one for mine and then there was that irresistible small paper pieced one that wanted my time.  I’d made it before and given it to my daughter, but always wanted one for myself.

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It is 50% pieced and I hope to finish this weekend.

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My son’s tree skirt is very traditional.  I wanted to embellish with wide rick rack and jingle bells, but I hesitate.  Anything that makes it more attractive to his dogs will also mean its demise!  I plan to tie it off and bind it in red tape.  Fingers crossed – it may survive Christmas 2015.  One never knows.

DSCN9173DSCN9174My favorite snowman ornament – he stands atop my machine and keeps me company while I sew.  I have a real love for all Christmas globes.

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grey

My sister texted that it is 80 degrees in Savannah and looking all the world like an autumn day.  We have almost 60 degrees in the northeast and the skies are grey, grey, grey.  It’s impossible to take a decent photo indoors, so  I headed out, quilts under my arm, to try to take some nice images to share.  The wind had picked up (naturally!) and closeups just weren’t in the cards.  But I wanted to share my weekend project – a new tree skirt to replace the one that I had made nearly 15 years ago.

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I’d purchased the Cotton and Steel holiday pack in September and almost forgotten it as I’d pushed it out of sight.  How could I forget those snow globes?

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The Parisian globe is especially poignant this season.

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I found this pattern, Starry Forest Christmas Tree Skirt on Jacquie Gering’s blog –www.tallgrassprairestudio.blogspot.com.  It was relaxing to follow her good lead, clear instructions and concise diagrams.  There’s lots left to be done – cutting the back panel, piecing the back, adding the batting and quilting.  I’ll bind this in one of the coordinating top fabrics.

It was hard to pack away my old tree skirt.  It represented many wonderful holidays, but it was dated and looking a bit sorry for itself.  Who knows?  Perhaps it will appeal to someone in my family down the line … and with that thought in mind I wrapped it tenderly and carefully and tucked it into a special box where mice and other critters will not be able to nest in it.

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