The Bear

Back at Spring Quilt Market in 2017, I kept seeing images of this quilt.I fell in love, I knew the pattern wouldn’t be available until at least September. When it was, it seemed to be sold mostly as a kit with these specific fabrics. Makes sense, Annie Brady is a new fabric designer and to showcase her line, she designed this quilt. Luckily I was able to purchase just the pattern.With most of my quilts, I’m happy to dig into my stash, but it’s always fun to buy a few new fabrics as well.I like calling this method of construction the Elizabeth Hartman method. Using half square triangles, all kinds of snow balls, one creates the animal. In this case Annie Brady used some pattern pieces as well.At this point, I called the quilt done. I hadn’t paid attention to the size listed on the pattern, 60″x 70″. Numbers don’t mean much to me, but this is a baby quilt. Another row of 10″ blocks all around would make this a very nice youth or lap quilt. So I stopped here. I usually use cotton batting for a baby quilt. No more! All I had was wool and it made the quilting so much easier! I used my ruler on most of the bear, you can see it in the ear. I also did ruler work to create diamonds in the background. It worked really well.Then I went off on vacation in Belize. I was anxious to get back and finish up this bear. This picture is taken after a wash and dry in my machines. Unlike cotton, it crinkled up some, but not a lot, which to be honest I prefer. I find that with cotton batting crinkle, you lose all the quilting definition.  Here it isn’t quite as crisp as it was before washing, but the quilting designs still stand out.See what I mean? Especially on the background.  Where you can’t really see the quilting is on the very busy print fabrics. I mentioned having fun with rulers. I used them all over the bear itself. I’m so happy that my ruler work is improving. Using wool batting is a big part of that success. Working on a small quilt is also much easier.Using up stash fabric for the backing. You get a better sense of the quilting on the back. Some artistic shots.

The baby for whom this quilt is intended was born the day I finished this. I will be visiting him in Israel next month and will hand deliver the package.

I loved this project, I’m also excited to start working on some new quilts in 2018.



Final projects of 2017

When I got back to knitting about 15 years ago I made a scarf out of Noro yarn for my son’s girlfriend, soon to be wife.This was the first brightly colored yarn out on the market that I remember. It is still going strong. So my DIL requested a new scarf, just like the old one, which has been destroyed from use. I had made another scarf a few years ago, but not with this yarn. So I placed an order and it arrived right after Christmas.A simple garter stitch on the biggest needles I own.I found another skein of Noro, in pinks and orange and combined it in.I haven’t blocked this, I won’t. With time the scarf will simply stretch out on its own.Sometimes the old tried and true are the way to go.And then there is quilting. In May, at the Spring Quilt Market, this fabric line and pattern were debuted with Moda. I fell in love with this pattern. I had to have it. What is shown at market usually doesn’t make it to the stores until months later. So I stalked an online store that said they’d notify me when the pattern arrived.  Turns out that they were selling it as a kit with the fabric.  You know me, I don’t like kits, and I really don’t like working with just one fabric line. Luckily I was able to buy the pattern on its own.Got to work, this bear is similar to Elizabeth Hartman’s animals. But it is much larger than I expected.Love seeing how the bear grows from row to row.Here the bear is complete, now to add the borders.I’m stopping here. Yes, the pattern calls for another round of borders, but that will make this too big. This is a baby quilt, it is quite large enough. I might make this again and if I do, I might make a larger size, but not on this project.

No, I didn’t complete this in 2017, I still need to quilt it. It is always a good idea to have a project that carries over into the new year.To end on a bright note, while the rest of the country is suffering record-breaking cold, my roses are sending out their final blooms of the year. In a month or so, the gardener will prune them back, so they can build up strength for next years blooms.



A few years ago we found some old Christmas decorations in the rafters of our garage. They were probably left by very previous owners. As in 2 or three before the people we purchased the house from.I gave them to Roberta, every year she puts them out. Nice to see them getting used.This year as I was wrapping gifts (Hanukkah comes much earlier than Christmas), I had a very special gift in mind.

No, none of these, these are for the grandkids. I didn’t do a great job of wrapping Roberta’s gift, just put it in a fun bag and brought it over.Here she is opening her present.Yup! The Urbanology Red and White quilt I made, it has moved to it’s permanent home.Roberta was speechless, it takes a whole lot to get her speechless.

The speechless didn’t last long. Here she is admiring all the details.Best of all, cuddling up on the couch under the quilt.




Splendid Sampler -DONE!

It’s been almost two years in the making. The longest I’ve ever worked on a quilt. Now it’s true the first year was a quilt along, I had to wait every week for two blocks. Then I realized that I don’t like such a busy sampler. So I started making Hawaiian applique blocks, each one taking a long time since I was sewing by hand. Needle turn applique.  I thought I’d try to hand quilt around the applique. Yeah, right! It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve done hand quilting. I even went and bought a quilting hoop! No go! Within five minutes I realized that I couldn’t do it. Maybe I could do it on one block, but the quilt was heavy and unwieldy. Echoing the shapes on the machine worked out just fine.I only used 26 of the hundred blocks on the front of the quilt.  So most of the rest ended up on the back. Sure if I had bordered each block they might have stood out more, but this is why I don’t like samplers made of small blocks. There really is no place for the eye to rest.Of course, the quilting has no relationship to the blocks on the back, which also means – no focal point.But for the back of a quilt – this is impressive. It also makes the quilt much heavier – all those seams and thread. Since this is going to be my snuggle on the couch quilt – both sides will be visible. The small blocks all got a lot of detailed quilting.  The border bands got none, which means they stand out as real frames.  I used wool batting which was wonderful to quilt with, really smooth. It does give the quilt more loft, definitely more than cotton.I’m very pleased with the result. I shared this image on the Splendid Sampler Facebook page. Pat Sloan herself commented on it. She really liked how I made the project work for me. It’s not about having cookie cutter quilts, it’s about personalizing the project.I embroidered a simple label, after all the work, I simply wasn’t up to making an elaborate label.

So what did I learn from this project? I improved on certain skills, like paper piecing. While working on the blocks I realized that I want to do more applique, which led to the needle turn Hawaiian blocks. Having done them, I think I’m ready to move on to other kinds of applique. I like the hand-sewing, I just think I’m done with Hawaiian style blocks.

I realized that sampler quilts aren’t my thing, but I am very very pleased with my solution and my ability to use most of the blocks.

I don’t think I’ll be doing any more mystery quilt-alongs. I have too many ideas of my own to work on.  All in all, a great experience and another unique, warm handmade quilt in my collection.





Quilt for Eyal II

Laying out the quilt, I like breaking the symmetry.Here is the final top, you’ll notice that I have a section of the background in the gazelle block. I love that secondary design and it only showed up once, so I encroached on the gazelle.

Remember the problems I was having with my ruler work? I took a class with Becky Wilder, a new member in the VMMQG, she is a whiz with rulers. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out the problem. I needed to lower the foot a lot, much more pressure on the quilt was needed. The final item was using the purple Janome 90/14 foot. It worked.

Here is the result, nice clean ruler work, but what would happen when I go home and work on actual patchwork? Eyals’ quilt was the testing ground.See how nice and straight the outline is? I’m showing the back here, because the quilting is invisible on the print fabric I used.It wasn’t all ruler work, on the animals, I tried to highlight their shapes and then echo around them.Using the quilting to emphasize the owls’ eyes.On the dark brown chevrons, you can actually see the ruler work, on the green diamonds you can’t even see the quilting.

Yes, I still had some thread breakage, this quilt was great for practice. I still have a long way to go before I really conquer this technique, but working with busy prints is a good place to start, I’m getting the practice and you can’t see the mistakes. I still had some thread breakage, but that is to be expected, happens even when I’m doing regular free motion quilting.Finished! Well, except for a label that I need to embroider.How cute is the back? I used up a lot of my animal prints, a whole forest back there.I showed the quilt to the Dads and put Eyal on it, he is still small, it will be fun to take pictures of him on it periodically. Right now, I need to make a label, show it off at my guilds,  and then give it to Eyal.





Artistic shots

I have given many a quilt away, it isn’t hard to do.  So why is Leigh’s Garden, a quilt I was commissioned to make, so hard to let go of?

I’ve really fallen in love with this one, I may have to make another pineapple quilt for myself – despite the amount of work.  Until then, I took the quilt out for some vanity shots.Loaded up in a bag, ready for a field trip.I know this quilt is destined for a bed, but quilts are often used outside as picnic blankets, beach blanket or to build forts. Quilts are very resilient.Once home from the photo shoot, I washed and dried the quilt in my washer and dryer, using regular laundry detergent. I always do this before giving someone a quilt, I want them to know that they can do the same. The quilt will be fine, it is meant to be laundered.Back home, I wrapped myself in this big behemoth and took some more pictures. This was after the laundry, so I’m being very careful that it doesn’t drag on the ground. Once Leigh has it, she can do that on her own.

Finally: Since it is going to live permanently on a bed, I felt I need some pictures there. This is a king size bed, it is clearly long enough but not wide enough. If I were keeping it, this would be fine, I can’t ever see myself making a king size quilt – too hard to deal with all that bulk!

I am so pleased with everything about this, now, to put it in a box and mail it off.






Quilt for Eyal

Unlike the other grandchildren, I had no warning or prep time. Luckily for both of us, he won’t care when he actually gets his quilt.

As soon as I heard he was born I started planning a quilt. I figure, I love owls, I love paper piecing, lets put owls on his quilt.My favorite paper-piece designer is Janeen Van Niekerk, she is unbelievably prolific. I wonder if many of her designs are just the pattern and haven’t been made yet. Who knows, what I do know is that I love her style.Another one of her owls.Side by side, she does realistic and whimsy so well.

Then we learned his name, Eyal, which means Gazelle or ram, but not deer. I didn’t want the image of a deer. Once again I went searching for anything that might be a Gazelle. Janeen is from South Africa, maybe she designed one?Nope, but she did design a goat, which looks more like a gazelle than a deer. So now the quilt will be much more personalized.

Onto the background. You probably have noticed that I like to paper piece animals then put them on a background made of repeating blocks, The chickens, the octopus…

A book I have owned since I started quilting is The Quilters Album of Blocks and Borders by Jinny Beyer  She published this in 1986, it is out of print but available as a used book. She documents quilt blocks, finding the earliest mention of the block, the different names it goes by and identifying the block as a four patch, nine patch etc.This is how the blocks look in the book. A trick I learned from a class I took with Christy Fincher, use any of the layout apps on your phone to see how multiple blocks will look side by side.I did, I really like the secondary designs that emerge. Yes, I’m sure people using EQ 7 are familiar with this technique, but for those of us who don’t want to be on a computer with a design program, this works really well. First, make an actual block, not in the colors of the quilt, just to practice.Then, tile it, yes, I am really liking the results.Now to choose the actual fabrics. Yoch loves green, Yishai, not so much. But orange is also a good choice. So a little bit of green, hopefully not overwhelming.I really like this, but, yes there is a big but, I think the cream background will end up competing with the animals, they might not stand out as much. Back to cutting up the fabric. Once again, people using EQ 7 will tell me they do all of this on the computer, well, I’m old fashioned, I like the hands-on planning. Have you noticed that I am incorporating owls in the fabrics as well?  Do you see the mistake I made? I didn’t see it until I tried to tile the pattern and it just looked weird. While fixing my mistakes, I changed the color of one of the small squares, why not?Here I am so far, I really like the balance of shades and colors. I’m not sure exactly how I am going to lay this out, it’s a baby quilt, it will be easy to figure out.

I know Eyal’s parents will love this, I hope he does too. Meanwhile, friends have been sharing pictures of their grandkids on quilts I gave them. Ahh, such joy.



And it’s finished!

I had to wait a few weeks until Ruth’s longarm was open and available.Here is the quilt, loaded on the machine, one large backing that I ordered from Connecting Threads, when I ordered they had a number of large backing fabrics on sale, for $8 instead of $12. That was a nice saving. With a quilt this large I didn’t want to piece the back.I put so much time and effort into this quilt top, and it’s busy! So I needed to simply the quilting, not an easy thing for me to do. I have been watching Angela Walters Midnight quilt show, she shares great quilting ideas, in this episode, she shared a woodgrain design, and that is what I went with.5 hours, that is all it took, from loading to unloading the quilt, with a break for lunch. Not bad at all for a queen size quilt.Here it is, off the frame and draped over it so you can see how extensive and large the quilt is. I absolutely love the quilting, it ties everything together but doesn’t overwhelm the pineapple pattern.Trying to capture the whole quilt on the ground. I was considering piecing together the binding, but once again, I felt that would be too much. This is a very busy scrap quilt. Having one unifying binding would pull everything together. Luckily I had bought a large piece of fabric on sale, I think at the time I thought I’d use part of it in the backing.Ironing the binding folding over.It’s a good thing I have this large pergola to hand my quilts from. Even so, this one is dragging on the ground.  You can see how different a quilt looks when you can photograph it straight on.

I’m in love, Ruth said the same thing, had I not finished quilting in one day I may have come back to an empty frame since she wanted to steal it. A glimpse at the backing fabric. I really lucked out, on sale and it fits the quilt top perfectly.A closer look at the chickens. I quilted more detail on them, I really tried to emphasize the eyes with quilting. Then I echoed around, so they stand out from the background.  Another chance to see how pleasing that background quilting is. Outlines and echoed the bees. I did add antennae with the quilting, not that it’s that visible. Then for my reward, I got stung this weekend by a bee. A neighbor had a beehive on his fence, no he’s not doing anything about it, even though we told him that I got stung. People!The name was pretty easy to come up with. Leigh raises chicken, bees, and veggies in her garden. Maybe some of the pineapples can represent some lettuce or beans.

It’s done!!  I am going to machine wash and dry it because that way Leigh will know that it can be laundered. Nothing delicate or sacred about it. Then on to take some ‘artistic’ pictures, share with my guild and off in the mail it will go.



I love Mayhall’s

I promised an update on my sewing machine. So here it is, I took the machine to Mayhall’s, the best sewing repair place around!  I was concerned that I’d be waiting months for the part.

Lucky for me, Jerry is an amazing technician. Within a few days, I got a call, he was able to repair the broken part, and he fixed another problem I was having.He replaced the pre-tension disks with one from Singer. It works, I have never changed any tension there, so I doubt I’d be starting now. I was having problems filling my bobbins, turns out there was thread stuck in there.  I wasn’t charged for that part of the repair – so yes, all my machines will be going to Mayhall’s for service. Juki has come out with its own ruler foot. Yay! Maybe having the correct foot that really fits the machine will stop my thread breakage problems.Here is a quilting ruler, butted up against the foot. Because the foot is thicker, the ruler won’t bounce under the foot – which could really cause some serious damage to the machine.I got busy and used the rulers on the central medallion. Uh oh, still having thread skipping and breaking.Same problem I’ve always had, when I move from left to right or move down to up, threads skip and break, not a problem in the other two directions. Even if I am working on the diagonal this happens.So I drew some lines and tried it free-motion, yup, still same skipping and breakage.So I tried good old-fashioned fmq, not a problem at all. Is this because I am moving in all directions?I had been using Organ Needles size 90, you can see the problem in the lines up top. I had heard that Janome Purple needles are the way to go. So I ordered some and as you can see on the lower lines – yup, more breakage.

I am very frustrated, next I am going to sign up for a class with a live teacher. I will be very very careful transporting my machine, but I need another person who is very good at this needle work to sit down at the machine. Maybe then we can figure out what I am doing wrong since clearly, it is user error.







Charity block done

You’d think with a new baby around I’d have no time. Well, I’m the grandma, so I do, even though my babysitting duties with all five of them have increased.I have been working on this block. I do enjoy handwork, a lot! Building up layers with needle turn applique is very relaxing.I was given a lot of green and blue fabrics to work with, I don’t think I used all of them, although I have tried to get a lot of variety in here.The final touch, a yellow center on every flower. I hand this back to the Valley Quiltmakers Guild this week.  It will be fun to see how the whole quilt comes together.