Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Old Year

Christmas was the best ever for us- hope it was for you as well. We laughed and made presents for each other, and played the games our darling Zoey devised for us. It was madness and fun and I, for one, am sorry it's over. I wanted to share some photos of the gifts I made, now that all is said and done!

First is the Chicken Quilts- This is "Hens Gone Wild" one of a series of Chicken Quilts that developed because I didn't want to be the most conservative girl on the block... my two neighbors (out of 5 houses on our cul-de-sac) in our NORTH RALEIGH neighborhood- suburban neighborhood. Anyway- We have 2 neighbors with chicken flocks. Pretty little creatures, much quieter than I expected, but CHICKENS! I have no desire to harvest my own eggs or take care of chickens- although I'll help out in a pinch, as any good neighbor would. Having chickens inside city limits seemed a bit out there for me. So I decided to do my thing with this chicken theme, and these quilts are the result. At the same time, my husband's family in Wisconsin has bought a farm ( no jokes! ) and there has been much discussion about whether or not chickens should be on the farm... Again- chicken quilts seemed to be the answer! These little quilts can be thrown on a table or over a chair- any place you want chickens! And no worries about mean nasty animals like possums sneaking up on them while you are asleep and EATING them! IMHO- problem solved!

I had so much fun getting ready for Christmas this year- I made these darling lunch bags for all my work buddies. I spent a lot of

early morning time at the SewMamaSew website

gathering ideas for gifts and having so much fun with sewing again- simple stuff, like these lunch bags, made from really fun fabrics I got at the site.BTW this is a local quilt shop in Raleigh that is mostly web-based and I have a secret fantasy about working there, but then, when would I sew?

I also made jammy pants for one and all- making me happy that I am keeping my (grown) children warm and cozy all winter in soft, flannel jammy pants- I didn't take pics of the jammy pants- use your imagination- plaid, flannel, jammies!

In early December- our daugter Meg graduated from nursing school- It was such a long haul, and she worked so hard. We had a big party for her- but about 2 days before the party I realized that I would have to decorate, as it WAS December, and we WERE having more than a few people over for food and drinks...

A word here about how I do Christmas- OVER THE TOP. Not crazy person on the news over the top, just 20 tubs of Christmas decorations over the top. So with only two days to do basic decorating and all those resources at my disposal, what did I do? Got out my glue gun and made more! I used a foam wreath shape covered in this gorgeous gold fabric I had in my stash from about 10 years ago- and proceeded to glue gun on about a gazillion little Christmas bulbs from many different places...(it took soooo many more bulbs than I thought it would!) and then I glued another gazillion pearls from Micheal's in the gaps left by the bulbs. I copied the idea from a photo I saw in Mary Engelbriet's Dec 07 issue- but, of course, I like mine more. Very Shiny!!

I also LOVED the Quilting Arts Gifts publication

this year. I have many, many ideas from that,

but the one I actually MADE was this one- I think of it as a Dr Suess tree- with the little silver glitter dealy-bobs hanging off it and the beadded tassle just kindof hanging out. I made a set and promptly put them at opposite ends of the room, because I should have made them different sizes-- too matchy-matchy next to each other. But this one has been gracing the computer desk for the holidays, and I do love it!

Lest you think I finish what I start- there is a long list of UFOs as we contemplate putting Christmas away. Most notable is what will be next year's masterpiece- a feather tree for the dining room. My imagination has elevated this to a pinnacle of Christmas Loveliness- It will be about 6 feet tall, a gorgeous concoction of beads and feathers...all in shades of white- branches graced with white and silver birds, and these beautiful wrapped wire flowers that I actually DID get made, but haven't found the clips to put them on the tree- and I need some silver leaves...You will just have to wait for Christmas 2008 to see how beautiful they are!

I guess I've bragged long enough. I need to think forward and not back- but I wanted so badly to share my fun from this Christmas. I'm thinking about my New New Year's post- Maybe one of my resolutions should be to update my blog more often! Happy New Year to All!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I haven't posted in a long time- but that is about to change. The problem with writing about what I do is that the people who read this are mostly my family and friends- and I've been very busy making Christmas presents... Can't write about that without them knowing whazzup. So I will talk in generalities about how much FUN I'm having up in my little hideaway!

First was the discovery of SewMamaSew- This awesome website put together projects for every day of November. They had lots of tutorials and cute pictures of fun, easy things to make. What I loved about this is that it seemed to be targeted to young mommies who are making CUTE things for their little ones. Nothin' cuter in the world than a baby in booties made from recycled sweaters... or little aprons for three year olds... Now those of you who know me well, know that that was the kind of young mommy I was once upon a time. But I was alone in my craftiness- not many ofmy friends sewed- my mom did and we did have a lot of fun making things together- but there weren't contemporary seamstresses. There seems to be a trend now of people wanting to make things- Our technology is so awesome, we can download music in a flash- send pictures across the country of the sweetest kids in the world- but the tactile feeling of making something with your own two hands and then GIVING it away to someone you love?? Priceless.

I want to post pictures of all the lovelies I've made so far... Chicken quilts and mittens...lunch bags that are absolutely ADORABLE but all that must wait until after Christmas. I'm taking pictures, though- technology makes that so easy!!

Instead I'm going to try and post some links. Now I know that Linda won't be tempted to surf over to a sewing site- but Jen might... and who knows who else is reading this? Check these sites out; SewMama Sew- You'll have to click on the heading and it will take you to the current blog page- check out their links especially if you want to learn how to make the projects. Great tutorials.

Great fancy pants, too- That's me at Christmas in 19ahem This is the site for SewGreen. A green approach to sewing- redesigned thrift store finds, how to make your own grocery bags... stuff like that.,,HGTV_22056_53734,,,HGTV_22056_53734,00.html this is another day by day idea page- a little lame, but some nice ideas. I'm thinking about a feather tree for the dining room- in white, no lights...

BTW That's another great Christmas shot- I got a Betsy Wetsy that year-

That's all for now- Don't miss out on the fun- check these sites out- and if shopping is more fun for you than making things- that's great, too. Find a children's Christmas concert, make some cookies- or put antlers on your car-

Leave me a comment-

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Living in the Moment

Living in the moment sounds good- mindful living- wax on wax off- meditating on the power of now. The reality, for me - is a sense of being at the top of the roller coaster- (don't laugh those of you who know I've never been on a roller coaster) It's the beginning of October and the Polar Express is leaving the station- the roller coaster is about to drop 3 stories- CHRISTMAS is just a heartbeat away!!
I took a creative excursion yesterday. There's a shop in Wake Forest called Yeah I know heaven for me! Beautiful yarns,lovely books
and the fabrics! I browsed, I pondered, I bought. And now I sit here at 530 am because my brain is overflowing with ideas and projects and wonderfull-ness. And Christmas is only 80 days away. Not a lot of time if you make things for people. And since the people I make things for are also, (for the most part) people who read my blog... That doesn't leave a lot of stuff to blog about!
I know! Everyone's getting mittens- pretend to be surprised. There. Now I can talk about all those projects I want to make which are DEFINETLY not Christmas ideas- just fun things to make. I bought this book- One Skein Wonders by Judith Durant. 100 little things to make. Things someone else figured out HOW to make, and then wrote down the directions to. Put that together with the fact that our library FINALLY got books on cd and I can make stuff for the next year and not have to think too hard and be able to "read" at the same time. (I tried to read the traditional way, one page at a time , while knitting... not too relaxing)
There are patterns in this book for scarves that melt when you look at them, they are so soft and airy- and cool little purses, and socks- more socks... bonnets for babies and hats for big kids and needle felted coasters. I think I need a sabbatical from my job- I only have 80 days! And most of them are Mondays,Tuesdays,Wednesdays...
And all that was from the yarn side of the store-

I also read a great article interviewing Cat Bordhi at This woman is truly amazing- I want to be like her when I grow up- writing books about things she's passionate about- spending all her time at her art- AND living in the middle of some of the prettiest scenery I've ever seen- in Canada- sounds VERY good to me. By the way- it's October 6th and it'll be 90 degrees here for the next week- we still have our a/c on because it's so humid... BUT we'll have daffodils in February.

I had best get this posted- I have spent the last two hours at the computer- my studio is calling! I should be able to post my chicken quilt next week! Don't let this stress you out- Christmas really is 80 days away!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Who Knows Where the Time Goes

It's Sunday and we've had a week or so filled with activity. Last weekend we had a visit from some VERY OLD -well we've known them a long time, they aren't that old...- friends- Linda (Winans) and Al Card. They always challenge us, because they are living their dream- they live on their sailboat in a marina in Guatemala. They shared pictures with us of old friends, and of their new life in Guatemala-Those guys know how to party! Togas and music and travel- sounds like a dream come true. And it IS- for Linda and Al. They had lots of pictures of friends and family- Hi Kenny and Ann- Hi Jean and Gerry! And it made me very happy to see how well those old friends are doing. It also made me do a little thinking.

Linda and Al at Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Following your dream means many things to many people- for some it's early retirement and living on a boat- for others it's non-stop travel. I think Walt and I are living our dream. We have a sweet little house that seems to have a magical ability to expand and accommodate family and friends as needed. Said sweet little house needs some work done on it, but it's still a "soft place to fall". We have our children and grandchildren nearby, a blessing we are grateful for every day of our lives. Our house is quiet at times and full of music and laughter every Sunday night about 5- rain or shine. We both have Monday through Friday jobs that challenge us and make life interesting. We both have out of work pastimes that keep us happy- for me it's my art- Walt has his books, movies and music.

All the photos I have of the front of our house are about 5 years old...Here's part of the inside of our soft place to fall, our mantle decorated for winter, 2007

It all makes me realize that how we spend our time and dream our dreams is relative. I wouldn't trade this for a second at any other lifestyle. I don't want for anything, really. (Well- a little more money would be nice) We are in the middle of a pretty wonderful time in our lives!

Sean, Walt, Meg, Jaime, Zoe Mary, Noah and Luke in my weedy garden end of Sept , 07

So now I'd better use my time wisely and get to work on my Dandelion quilt- oh and wait til you see the Chicken quilt!! I'll write more about that later!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thinking about Creating

I've gotten very good at the "simmering" of ideas. Just this past weekend I spent- oh- probably a solid 12 hours thinking about my dandelion quilt. Of course I wasn't just sitting there like Rodin's statue, with my chin in my hand, but I WAS percolating ideas.
I think this is an important stage in the design process. I also think it can go on WAY too long!!
Those of you who know me well know that I love the movie Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid- (be patient... there IS a connection) In the movie Butch keeps coming up with wild ideas, and Sundance always replies- "You just keep thinking, Butch- that's what you're good at!"
That's where I am with this quilt. I find I have epiphanies about how to do this while I'm driving to work on the Beltline- or sneaking outside to surreptitiously water my plants on the front porch (we have severe water restrictions in Raleigh right now). I have what Oprah calls an "aha moment" If I can remember all these great ideas and implement them- this will be an amazing quilt!

Noah did great at school last week, btw- First day was a little rocky- but by Thursday he was one happy boy- When Meg picked him up from school he said- "That was the best day, ever!"
He really has hit his stride confidence-wise. As the week has progressed he's adjusting. Learning the rules in kindergarten isn't easy...

Our weekend will be interesting. Our dear friends, who live a MUCH more interesting life than ours , are coming to visit- Linda and Al live on a sailboat in a marina in Rio Dulce, Guatemala- they'll be visiting for a few days and we will consume many beverages and spend a lot of time laughing!I think there may even be an evening of Karaoke in the works...

But before all the fun begins- I have two whole weekday workdays to work in my studio- this is the day to get those ideas down in fabric. And it's not getting done blogging!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to School

My Grandson, my Sweet Boy, Noah- starts kindergarten today. He's ready- a little nervous, but ready. He'll have the same teacher Zoe had, and that's a wonderful thing. Can't help but think about when his Mom started kindergarten, or his uncles. Three days that will live in my memories forever- Megan was excited, hardly looked back- Luke and Sean were a little more hesitant...

I love the New Beginning part of school starting. Even though I'm not taking classes (although I really want to take a drawing class) it's still a great time to take stock- look at goals and see how you're doing. For example- I wanted to be able to mount a show this year. THAT'S not gonna happen. But I did send a piece out into the Big World of Criticism- that's a start. And I've figured out what I need to do to put a show together---(hint- a lot more new work!) I guess it's time to stop painting bedrooms and making curtains and get to work making artquilts!!

My newest piece is about how we can send positive energy out into the world to make a change- a favorite topic of mine. I read a quote, and I'll paraphrase here- it compared sending negative actions into the world with blowing on a mature dandelion... I don't like focusing on the negatives- so my quilt will be about sending the seeds for change into the world and how each seed has a ripple effect- changing in small ways the way people look at their world. I've always held the concept of- "If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem" close to my heart- this season's quilts will be about those changes we each must make to change our world for the better. Sound really good on paper, now for the TIME to make the quilts! I wish I could work at night- I'm so jealous of people who get along on a few hours sleep...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Awesome Ideas

I finally took the plunge and got this blog-thing going. I had been struggling with names, and this morning, after a night on the couch (more about that later) it came to me. So Threading the Needle is born. I like the idea of showing action in the title- I'm a pretty busy person who likes to start and sometimes finish new projects. So the act of threading the needle indicates to me that a new project is being born!

I have had a productive summer:

I entered my first "competition" by sending a quilt to Quilt Art for a challenge. I don't think it'll be published, that was in June and now it's Sept... haven't heard anything. BUT the big step for me was in sending something in- putting it out there. I'm proud of that and proud of the piece, even if they don't publish it. So this is "Morning Has Broken" :
hand-dyed fabric, fusible applique, beading, found objects with organza overlay, this is about the way your mind expands with a new idea

I finished my clapotis (my family thinks this sounds dirty) far from perfect in the execution, but it's done and I'm happy with it.

I used Lang yarns Mille Colori- not the best choice- the yarn was too fuzzy to drop the stitches properly. This is from

I made a second little one that is much more technically correct but I put it away for a Christmas present (and it MIGHT be yours!)so I don't have a photo. Thanks for all the help I got from lurking on Yahoo's clapotis group- the charts were such a help (the second time around!)

I had a great idea for wedding gifts. A picnic quilt! These are picnic sized quilts that give me a chance to try new techniques and color combos without being too worried about them being Heirloom quality ( I gave up on heirloom quality about 20 years ago- now I fuss if I want to and I use "creative expression" the rest of the time- it's more fun that way)

One of my goals for 2007 was to learn to make socks. Here is my first sock! I DID cast on the second sock immediately, and I swear I'll finish it!

I used yarn from my stash- I think the instep part is too big, but it looks fine on my foot, and it's my FIRST SOCK!! (I'm ridiculously proud of this thing.