Category Archives: Quilting How-To

Warm and Woolly

I just finished making this quilt for a friend who has been under the weather:

What you can’t see from this photo is that the batting is made from alpaca wool, a beautifully light and warm material that sticks to absolutely everything and now covers every surface in my sewing room. I guess it’s a divine message that I need to vacuum more often.

This is the second quilt I’ve made from Judy Sisneros’ book, Nine-Patch Pizzazz. The next one I make will have pieced patches all the way to the binding. I’ve seen some quilters build nine-patches into the borders, but my measuring talents aren’t up to the precision required to do that.

The Simple Life

Here’s the laundry line at a Pennsylvania Amish farm I visited with my stepmother this week.  The woman of the house, in addition to having seven children and running a farmhouse, operates a quilting business and had dozens of (all hand-quilted!) quilts piled on beds and ready to sell.  They were made by her, her sister, her friends, and her relatives.

This little postage stamp quilt was one of the few she had that resembled a traditional Amish quilt, with its dark solids and simple design. Most of what the ladies make is aimed at outsiders like my stepmother and me, and they are buying printed quilting fabrics from regular quilt stores because that’s what their market likes.

The quilt lady’s mother made this one, which she called Japanese puzzle.

We don’t have much of an autumn in northern California, so it brought back memories of my midwestern childhood to see the leaves drifting down from the trees and the bright colors of the eastern woods.

Christmas (letter) in July

It’s true, I admit it.  I’ve been dragging my feet a little on our annual Christmas letter.  To be more precise, I’ve been dragging them since November of 2008.

My husband always starts his annual Christmas letter harassment planning campaign right about when I’m arriving home from the grocery store with 20 bags of food for Thanksgiving dinner. I always say in my most least grouchy voice that I can’t possibly think about the Christmas letter until after Thanksgiving.  My husband fires a volley over my bow by gathering some clever cartoons and quotes for our annual page of witty stuff thought of by other people, writes a paragraph or two about his staggeringly productive and useful year (this is not an exaggeration — he is terrifyingly productive), and emails it to me on Friday after Thanksgiving with a reminder that I have solemnly promised to have the whole thing out the door before the New Year.

Next thing I know, it’s Valentine’s day, which makes calling it a “Christmas” letter a lot more difficult. Usually I pull myself together and get the letter done before Easter, but this year one thing led to another, and now it’s suddenly the middle of July.  At this point the whole thing is looking just a little ridiculous. Last year is already fading into the mists of my bad memory. But I did promise to do it, and while I’m often slow, I don’t like to rat out on a promise completely.

So here I am, ready to write.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

The Teenage Appetite

How much macaroni and cheese can twenty-odd fourteen-year-olds and about half as many parents eat on a hungry Friday night?  That’s the existential question I have to answer tonight when I cook the dinner for a crafting/eating/movie party for my daughter’s eight-grade class.

I have a horror of serving too little food and making party guests go hungry.  The memory of one especially awful birthday party I attended where the only food was those little raw carrots and a grocery store birthday cake with NO CHOCOLATE IN IT WHATSOEVER is still fresh in my mind, a good eight years later.  As a result, I always serve way too much food.  I wonder if that’s really possible with this crowd?

Great Moments in the Annals of Romance Novel Plotting

What would you do if you were a rich, handsome tycoon who gets hit by a car while walking across the street and receives a visit in the hospital from the mousy secretary you think  was driving the car that hit you (who wasn’t really the driver, but pretends she is to protect her brother-in-law, who WAS driving?)

Would you insist that she let you move into her tiny apartment so she can spend the next month taking care of you?  Of course you would!  And would you then decide the next day to abandon all your usual tycoonery to force her to take you on a driving tour of the country inns of Scotland? Naturally!  Wouldn’t any rich, handsome tycoon do the same?

I can’t tell you how this book turns out in the end because it’s lost somewhere in the bowels of my minivan, but I do have to admire the author’s ingenuity.

Quote of the Day – October 30, 2008

“The man who taketh a steam bath

He loseth all the skin he hath

And, for he’s boiled a brilliant red,

Thinketh to cleanliness he’s wed,

Forgetting that his lungs he’s soiling

With dirty vapors of the boiling.”

Richard Gwow, quoted in Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

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