Keep the lights on

Yesterday,  one of my private students was working on a project that was to become a gift for a good friend.   She had learned some new skills and was working on a brand new machine that was vastly more advanced than her previous one.   It was snowy out and quiet,  and she quietly said out loud, but mostly to herself, that this was alot like meditating.     I let her sew on,  and when she was ready for the next step we had a conversation about mediation, mindfulness, prayer and stress relief.


Don’t stress,  pet me!!!!


The fact that sewing can be all of these things is a huge part of why so many of us are drawn to sew, quilt and stitch.   I know that it is for me too.    As we sit in the darkest part of the year and for many the most stressful please remember to keep your stitching lights on and burning bright.     It’s better for your eyes, and better for your soul.

I am working today to ease my soul too,  my Nan, the incredible woman I recently posted about,   had a stroke Tuesday morning and has gone downhill quickly.    I could be called to my family on Long Island at any moment, so if you come for a visit at the shoppe and find the lights off and door locked please send some love.    It has me in a weird mix of emotions as I am also working on the baby quilt for a new nephew who could arrive any day between now and mid January.     This holiday, I NEED to be stitching.    I am so thankful to have a large pile of projects to keep my hands and mind busy.   ( Just wait till you see the goodies I have planned for 2019 )


Nan Dec. 2, 2018 age 103

I can tell you for certain that we will be closed on Tuesday the 18th so I can go get my daughter from college.   Can’t believe that a whole semester is done already.    She has made the adjustment very well,  found some good friends,  found some new exciting interests and her light is burning brighter than ever.

Wishing everyone a piece-ful holiday and time with those you love.    Keep the lights shining!!

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This past Sunday I was happy to celebrate my Nan’s 103 birthday.      She is an amazing woman,  matriarch of the family,  and part of where my love of stitching came from.    You can see on the table a blue and white embroidered table cloth ( under plastic for use )   She made one for each of her children and female grandchildren.


She has been an inspiration to so many of us,  and as we sat at the table and played Cooties with my nephew and aunt I realized just how lucky we all were.   Tea and cold milk in the good cups, home-made cookies, and four generations playing a silly game all together.    What a blessing.

Quilting can cross generations too.   In fact I encourage you to share your craft with the young people in your life.   Small hand projects that are finished quickly will reel them in, and then when they are ready,  let them use a real machine ( not a toy please ) and make a small pillow or bag.    If your little girl likes dolls, American Girl Doll sized clothes or quilts are great too.    If you want help with projects for kids, tell me about them and I can help with a project they will get excited about.

For older students,  consider a sewing machine,  fabric, or notions as a gift.   I have several beginner friendly workshops that can be done, some with a machine,  some all by hand.   I can make out gift certificates for them and we can present them wrapped in the fabrics needed, with a nice bow of course.    You could even take the class together so you can spend some time together.      For the classes on offer check the Skillbuilders page.     Take the time now to reach out to the next generation or two and share.   It is time spent that you wont regret, and memories that will stay with them forever.

Tuesday is our Handstitchers club day,   We will be working on the leaf sampler from Laura Wasiloski.    Here is the link in case you didn’t get it.        Materials are also listed on our Club News Page.        Stumpwork will be working on UFO’s.       If the Red Hook Schools are closed or delayed due to snow we will just skip and do our projects in January.     Have a great weekend!!


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Group quilts

This has been a busy week.   Among several other things,  I have been called upon to help with two different proposed group quilt projects .     Although each and every one of these projects is unique there are a few guidelines that I have found to be useful, especially if some or most of the participants are not quilters.      Here they are in a list,  so if you are involved with a project of this type you can use it as something of a checklist.

  •  Make sure that you have a competent and enthusiastic quilter at the helm from the very beginning.    Pay her if you need to.
  • Don’t have too many people in on the big decisions.  This can double the time it takes to get anything done.
  • Be flexible in the design phase, and provide the designer/quilter with as much information up front as you can.   This includes size,  display location, colors,  required imagery,  time frame,  and budget.
  • Organize!!   Get everything written down clearly,  have a list of names and contact for all participants and use it regularly.  Share updates and if possible visual aids.
  • If many of the participants are not quilters remember the Kiss concept,   Keep it simple.    Provide very specific instructions and as much of the materials as you can.  This is called eliminating variables.    If possible have a party and have them do the work under supervision by one or two experiences quilters.
  • Allow time and materials in case work comes back in with technical issues,  or for work that does not come back in ( on time or ever! )  This is where the expertise of your enthusiastic quilter is critical.    This is also the point at which I am usually called upon, and sometimes it is too late.
  • Don’t forget to have fun and be sure to celebrate when it is done.   Get everyone’s name on the label, and the guest list.

I hope this helps someone out there.     Unfortunately, this guidance is probably not going to reach those who need to see it most,  but I have to try.     It’s so much more fun to help you set up than to bail you out when the project is too far gone.

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The Lindberg Quilt,  an group project from 2016

In other news,  today is the last day for the Redwork ornament pattern.    Tomorrow is the First Saturday of December so our Block of the Month will meet at 9.   Please bring all that you have done so far as I have setting information and you may want to use our big tables to lay out the blocks and make if you want  s.ome choices in that regard.

This coming Thursday is the Thousand Pyramids workshop.   Starts at 10:30.   My version is still in progress,  but I LOVE it.  I used a kaleidoscope ruler and scaled it up from the vintage version.   I had intended to make a lap size,  but it’s so nice I’m going bigger.   It is also quite easy.    I have a simple trick that makes the piecing alignment simple.   I keep getting more ideas for how to play with this,  and it is very possible that I make several versions.    It’s the perfect balance of great to look at and easy to piece,  add in that it can be a great stash buster and I think everyone should make one.    The workshop proper is one session.  You wont finish it in that time,  but you will have everything you need to do so, and if you want, you can finish it at Work in Progress Wednesdays.    You need to find an place to shelter from the holiday crazies and we are it!!


A Vintage Thousand Pyramids in patriotic colors. 




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So it’s Thanksgiving time.   The Holiday music is blasting in the parking lots and big box stores,   The entrance of the craft store smells overwhelmingly of those scented pine cones .    I’m so not ready to jump into the winter Holidays,   I want to savor fall a little longer,  and pausing to remember how much we have to be thankful for is important.

I am truly thankful for you my readers, and even more when you come in to my shop.   It is why I design a redwork ornament for you each year.    The pattern is free when you pick it up in person during the month of November.     I also have materials kits that have not increased in price in 14 years.     Small shops like mine can provide these sorts of perks because you still come in and shop.     We love you for that.IMG_7132

Next week I will be closed EXCEPT for Tuesday.     My daughter broke her foot so we have to go pick her up and then bring her back over the weekend.    On crutches, with her dog, and several instruments that can’t stay in the dorms when they close them for the holiday,   we have no choice but to drive the 5 hours each way to get her and then again to bring her back.   The things we do for our kids right?    I am however very thankful that she loves college, is doing well and yet still is excited to come home for the holiday.    So I will have the shoppe closed while we cart her around.     Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I’ll see you Tuesday,  or on November 27 when normal hours return.

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and the winner is…

Quilt festival is going on now in Houston.   As usual the winners are amazing.   Here is a link so you can check them out too.   You may have to copy and paste,  or simply google it.   Most of us will not enter, or be accepted to a show at the level that this one is,  so why is it important to see the winners?       If you care about the art that you practice then it is good to glance at the cutting edge and the top of the pack so you can know what the pinnacle of the art looks like.    I know that I always tell you that perfection is a myth, but these come as close as is possible.     Viewed with the right mindset it can be a catalyst for growth in one’s own craft.   Here are a few things you can keep in the back of your mind as you look so that you can gain knowledge as you gaze.    These are things that you can still learn as you look at digital images.   Seeing them in person if you are lucky enough is a different situation and you can gain even more from that.    I am assuming that if you are reading this now you are at home, not at the show.   So Here are some things to consider.

Do I like the color combinations?   Are they dark, light, closely related,  or do they really contrast?    Is there a color I normally wouldn’t like that works well in this piece?   Why?  Is there a combination of colors that I have seen that I would love to use in my own quilts?

How about imagery?   Do I like the abstract ones,  overall blocks,  pictorial,  or painted surface?  Does the one I most love have a technique in it that I haven’t tried?   Am I willing to try it?    If I am,  do I know someone who can help me experiment?  ( yes you do hint hint )

Earlier this week a customer brought in a quilt top to show me.   She rescued it from a horrible situation and wanted to know what I thought she should do with it.   It is a beautiful postage stamp and She said I could share with you.


The squares are about an inch and a half.  It’s probably a full size,  and the intersections are almost perfect.   We looked for a long time and I only found one that was a tiny bit off.   It was hand pieced with tiny tiny stitches.    We also found three examples of the same print in two different colors.    It is possibly 1940-50,  and with a few homespuns, flannels, and shirtings  the maker may have had access to either mill ends or scraps from a seamstress.    The colors are nice and clear.     Isn’t it fun?

Lastly a quick over view of the events for next week,  Hand Stitchers and Stumpwork on Tuesday,  and the Crazy Quilt annual Holiday Tea on Saturday.    Also a reminder for members of First Dutchess Quilt Guild that the meeting is Wednesday night, at the Millbrook Farm and Home Center.     Supply lists for the club meetings on Tuesday are on the Club news page.    Use the tabs at the top of the page.     Enjoy the quilts and I’ll see you soon.

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Redwork Ornament

IMG_2033This morning the contrast between the gray sky and the early morning light coming through the trees made many of the truly glow.    This tree is right across from the shoppe, but the photo doesn’t quite capture the glow.     The season is simply flying by so I urge you to take a moment to slow down and enjoy the simple things that make life beautiful.   Halloween is done and it’s November already so  the Holiday’s are imminent.   Things will only get busier and crazier as we finish out 2018.     It happens every year, we know it’s coming, and yet it always seems to come up without warning,  then Boom, it’s Christmas eve.    This is why at this time every year I have shared with  you a free pattern for a redwork ornament.  IMG_7132


This Year it is Hexagon Shaped and a sister pattern to the one we did last year.     I was gifted a vintage Hexagon project that was unfinished,  and among the pieces were two muslin stamped images of birds.   Something about them was very appealing so I enlarged them slightly and they became ornaments patterns.    This one had been partly embroidered,  with green in the leaves and a brownish color for the bird.   I prefer him as a cardinal in red.     The leaves are worked in large lazy Daisy stitches for a lighter effect,  but if you prefer you may use a stem stitch for all of it.    The pattern is free when you come into the shoppe.    I do also have a materials kit that even includes a needle.   The materials kit is only $3.00,   a price that hasn’t gone up in all of the 14 ( yes 14 ) years I have been dIMG_2032oing this for you.

It is particularly important when life gets hectic to take a few minutes to one self and breathe.   I find that redwork is a great thing to help with that.   I also find that time with animals is great to help keep your sense of humor.    Here is one last photo today, of Jake in his Halloween costume.   It is supposed to be Yoda, but he hated the ears and hood.   oh well.

Tomorrow is the Block of the Month Meeting.   Keep laughing, keep stitching and I’ll see you all soon.

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What’s the Story?

When I was in elementary school there was a custodian named Charlie.   He was an old guy,  lanky build, thinning grey hair in a comb over,  the biggest nose I have ever seen, and gray eyes that always had a mysterious air about them.    He was always there,  arrival and dismissal,  lunchtime,  getting chairs for teachers at assemblies while we kids sat on the floor.    He worked hard.    So why do I remember him?    He told stories.   The kids would ask,  “What’s the Story Charlie?”  and he would launch into some monologue that was often part fairy tale, and part plot from last night’s sit com.   He always made us laugh,  and the mystery in his eyes would sparkle and draw us in.   Even the teachers liked his stories,  once on the way to gym class,  there were 3 classes and the assistant principal stopped in the hall to listen to a particularly good tale.    Although the details of his stories are gone,  I remember Charlie with great fondness and as an adult suddenly realized one day that every one of his tales that I can remember had a moral or some kind of reminder that humans should be good and kind to each other.

I share this with you as an example of how powerful a good story can be,  and as inspiration to you to infuse your quilt projects with your own story.    And then to not be afraid to tell them.    Whether it means a label on the back, or a photograph with the new baby laying on your quilt,  or a more elaborate account of the symbolism.  Maybe that’s why I love making scrap quilts,  every leftover from previous projects comes with a story already built in,  that becomes part of the narrative.       I used all sorts of leftovers to make the pieced strips of the Postage Stamp Strippy quilt.     If you come to the workshop on Nov. 1 & 8 I will share.   The more people who come to this class the richer the scraps we can exchange and play with, and hear stories about.     Call to register,  supply lists are on the showcase tab.   IMG_7126


Halloween is also coming up fast.    Town trick or treating for Saturday has been moved to an inside location,  but Jake will be here in costume,  and handing our treats for humans.   He will wear his costume on the actual day of Halloween too.    He doesn’t mind wearing it so why not?    It’s part of the story!!

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