Just in time for winter

The Icicles quilt top is done, quilted, and being bound as I type. (It’s nice to have a mom who enjoys binding.) Photos tomorrow, hopefully. I struggled with this one for far too long, trying to come up with an easy way to make it without foundation piecing. Silly me! Foundation piecing is easy, especially this pattern, and I should have looked at it as an opportunity to spread the foundation piecing joy. Mom went to the quilt shop that first expressed interest in the quilt, and took the top with her. Kathy (the owner) was very happy with it, and offered to quilt it on her longarm for free if she could have the quilt for an indefinite period as a display. Of course I said yes! They used an overall snowflake pattern, which I think compliments the icicles theme very well. Mom’s going to finish the binding today and take it to the shop tomorrow. I sent my preliminary pattern to Kathy so she can start her own Icicles quilt. She is considering using it in her retreat in a few weeks, and needs to make the quilt herself so she can teach it. How cool is that?!

As part of the pattern, I put together a one page PDF Freezer Paper Piecing Tutorial. I really think it’s the easiest way to foundation piece, and it wastes much less paper. Check out the tutorial and let me know what you think – do I need to go into more detail, or does that cover everything? I tried to keep it to one page, for the sake of printing costs, but I could expand it and post it here. Also, do PDF tutorials work for you, or do you prefer to see tutorials in the body of a blog entry? I chose to do PDFs because when I find a useful tutorial I want to be able to save it on my computer for future reference. Is that just me, or do others like PDFs, too?


Mem’ries, part 2

A number of things have me thinking about stories from my past. First, the earlier post about The Little Red Hen’s cornmeal giveaway. Second, running into the person who encouraged me to write about my grandfather’s 90th birthday party. And finally, a conversation with a co-worker about a guy I knew in college and the song Fire and Rain, by James Taylor. So…

I’ve known people who cannot remember anything before age 10 or so, which just baffles me. I have many clear memories from age 4, and in my earliest memory I’m only 2 1/2. We lived in a trailer park for a short time until just after my brother was born. I remember walking with my mother, holding her hand, feeling so excited because we were going to see my babysitter, Lettuce. I loved Lettuce. I truly thought that was her name – it wasn’t until years later that I realized her name was Gladys. We left the trailer park shortly after that, and my next memory is when we lived in a tiny town called Truman. Our babysitter in Truman was Martha, and I loved her, too. She had a lot of brothers and sisters, and their family was responsible for cleaning the church. I remember “helping” with the other very young kids by sitting on one end of a pew and scooching my butt across the length of the pew. I was dusting.

From Truman we moved to Delbert Meyer’s farm outside of Darlington. This farm had a long driveway, maybe half a mile. We had a barn, and we boarded the Doc’s horse. I don’t remember the Doc, but I remember that horse. It was enormous, and I was a little bit afraid of it. I only ever saw it in the stall – or at least, I only remember it in the stall. Around that time I got a pony of my own, Bobby. My older cousin, Sharon, helped me choose Bobby. We stood outside a ring and watched a couple of ponies trot around inside. She quite bossily informed me that Bobby was the best choice. I listened to her because she was older and she knew what she was talking about. I think she was seven. I was five. That was an eventful year for me – I got a new pony, my grandparents moved, and I broke my collarbone falling out of the back of the car. It wasn’t moving – I just slipped. Never break your collarbone. I slept sitting up in my parents’ bedroom, leaning against the wall by a window for two weeks. I’m sure it put a damper on their lives, too.

Bobby-the-pony (as opposed to “I’m-Bob-the-pony-is-Bobby” my brother) features in several of my five and six year old memories. In one, I was riding him up and down the driveway all by myself, and he suddenly stopped. I kicked him as hard as a six year old could, but he wouldn’t budge. In front of him was a tiny little garter snake, and until it crossed the entire driveway, he wouldn’t go anywhere. Then there’s the time I decided that I was big enough to ride Bobby by myself, so I snapped a lead rope on his halter, grabbed a bridle, and led him to the house. My plan was to take him to my mom so she could put his bridle on for me, but halfway to the house, Bobby realized that he was a whole lot bigger than the little blond girl on the other end of the lead rope. One head toss and he was trotting away, dragging me with him. I forgot to let go of the rope. You know how it looks when you drop a video camera, all swirly and disjointed? That’s what it looks like when a pony knocks you down and runs over you. I don’t remember being frightened, though, and I know that once Mom calmed down, she put his bridle on and I hopped right up on his back.

We lived on Delbert Meyer’s farm when I was in kindergarten, and I remember one icy winter on the way to the babysitter’s house one morning. We had to go up a hill, and my brother and I sat in the backseat of the car, pushing with all of our might on the front seats. We were helping get the car up the hill. Kindergarten also saw my broken collarbone, learning to use right handed scissors because I couldn’t use my left hand (I’m a lefty), my brother killing a baby duckling by accident, and reading. Oh, yeah, I did a lot of reading, even then. I can’t remember ever not being able to read – Mom tells me that she read to me from the day I was born. I feel sorry for people who don’t enjoy reading. In kindergarten, the teachers found out I could read and began propping me up on a stool with the Weekly Reader – a little “newspaper” for children. I’d read aloud to the class, and the teachers would drink coffee. Not long after that, first grade, I believe, my doctor gave me a reading test. He handed me a laminated card – about 4″ x 11″ – with a story on it and numbers at the beginning of each line. He told me to start reading, and mark where I was when he told me to stop. I read, and read, and read… and then asked, “What do I do when I get to the end?” He stuttered a bit, then told me to start over. I don’t know why I was given the reading test, and I especially don’t know why the doctor gave it to me.

So what’s your earliest memory?


…of the way we were…

The Little Red Hen is giving away freshly ground cornmeal from the multicolored Indian corn that she grew. The corn is beautiful, and she even provides a recipe for cornbread using her home grown corn. All you have to do to enter is post a memory. How easy is that? Post before midnight on October 28 to be entered, and be sure to read the memories posted by others.

Cathedral “Winda”

Winda the Dutch Quilter saw the one seam dimensional flying geese post and had a brilliant idea – what if one was turn around to form a cathedral window looking block? Well, this is what it would look like:

Cathedral "Winda"

It isn’t quite the same – the curves are of the window fabric and not the frame so you don’t get that pretty texture, and there is a seam down the middle. However, it takes about three minutes to make this entire block! Winda, you’re a genius, and I’m going to enjoy making these Cathedral Winda blocks!


I need to work on my Icicles quilt. I’m supposed to have it finished and delivered to the quilt shop this week, along with a pattern. I still love the way it will look, but I’m having a heck of a time actually sewing it. It’s super easy to foundation piece, but that takes a lot longer than regular piecing. I haven’t figured out a good way to piece it without the foundations, though.

Icicles block

I could cut templates and then everything works just right, but… it’s templates. Blech. I tried cutting rectangles then turning them so opposite corners met (it’s hard to explain, but trust me, it gives you half rectangle units). The problem is, when I try to get them exactly the right size, it goes all wonky. The 1/4″ seam doesn’t line up exactly at the points of the icicles, and it is driving me nuts! Cutting rectangles then cutting them in half diagonally and then piecing sounds like it should work, but getting them to line up correctly is a challenge because you have to leave the points hanging off just exactly so much.

Sigh. I think I’m just going to keep plugging away at the foundation pieced blocks. I have three done and I’d like to have at least 12 before I turn it into a quilt. It won’t be huge, but it will at least be a start. Or maybe I’ll just do 6, and make it a table runner… However big I make the sample, the pattern will have fabric requirements for many different sizes. I just need to finish something!

By the way, the fabric is Moda’s “Let it Snow Batiks” by Laundry Basket Quilts.
Okay, back to the machine…

Pieced lighthouse block

Someone on Yahoo! Answers was looking for an easy pieced lighthouse block that did not use foundation piecing. I thought the one seam flying geese unit would make a great top to the lighthouse, so I put this together. It’s a 6″ finished block.

Lighthouse block

It looks like a lot of pieces, but it’s very easy, and very forgiving for beginners.

Step 1: Move cat

Move cat

Step 2: Continue cutting pieces

Lighthouse cutting

Blue: Cut (2) 2 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ rectangles
Cut (2) 1 1/2″ squares
White: Cut (1) 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ rectangle
Cut (1) 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ rectangle
Black: Cut (2) 2 1/2″ x 1″ rectangles
Green: Cut (2) 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ rectangles

Step 3: Piece one seam flying geese unit

Lighthouse 1
Fold small white rectangle in half, wrong sides together, and finger press the fold. Place on one small blue square, right sides together. The fold should be at the top, 1/4″ from the top edge of the blue square. Place second blue square on top, wrong side up (right sides together).

Lighthouse 2
Sew along the right edge of the sandwich.

Lighthouse 3
Press the top blue square open…

Lighthouse 4
…then open the white rectangle to form a triangle, lining the center finger-pressed line up with the seam. Press.

Step 4: Piece the lighthouse and sky/grass units
Lighthouse 5
Place the flying geese unit right sides together on one end of the large white rectangle, and sew, then press.

Lighthouse 6
Place the green rectangles on one end of each blue rectangle and chain piece.

Lighthouse 7
Figure out approximately where you want the black bands (alternatively, you can skip the black bands and just have a solid white lighthouse), then cut the white rectangle 1/4″ below where you want the black band to start.

Lighthouse 8
Sew one black rectangle to the bottom of the lighthouse unit, then sew the other black rectangle to one end of the white piece you just cut off.

Lighthouse 9
Estimate where you want the next black bar to be, then cut the white rectangle 1/4″ below that point.

Lighthouse 10
(like this)

Lighthouse 11
Sew the segments together to complete your lighthouse.

Step 5: Add the sky/grass strips to the lighthouse

Lighthouse 12
Place your three strips side by side and then sew them together.

Lighthouse block

You could cut your blue and green strips an inch wider, then cut an additional 7 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ strip of blue to add to the top. This would give you a finished 7″ block with sky at the top. or you could just cut 1/2″ off each side the way it currently is and add a 1 1/2″ strip of blue to the top, to keep it as a 6″ finished block.

You could also cut your white so it isn’t straight, but widens at the base. You’d have to cut your blue and green strips differently to accommodate this, but you could always just cut them big and trim the finished block to square when you’re done.


I’ve mentioned Buttercup’s fondness for napping in my clothing – while I’m still wearing it. This morning she insisted on sleeping in my robe while I played worked on the computer.

Buttercup in Robe 1

Buttercup in Robe 2

Buttercup in Robe 3