Wonderful Quilters

Friday was such a fun day. Each Summer the North Carolina Quilt Symposium is held somewhere in the state. This year it was in Asheville so I made a date with a friend/quilter to attend for the day.

We went to a few quilt stores on our way north and after a yummy lunch, found our way to the UNC Asheville campus. This year they had an amazing group of teachers who each brought 3 or 4 quilts to hang with the participants’ quilts. When we paid our entrance fee, we were given a plastic glove so that we could look at the back of the quilts. To be able to see the quilts very close and check out the amazing quilting on the back was such a treat! Here are some of my favorites…

Susan Cleveland:

Though I took a class with her some years ago, it must have been before I started blogging. In any case, it was her Piping Hot Bindings workshop. She is an excellent (and fun!) instructor. If you have made bindings on quilts, you can understand that a teacher has to give very simple and clear directions for everyone to understand and be successful! This quilt, Flowered and Feathered Frenzy, is full of wonderful details showcasing her class content. There is a double binding around the wonky edges. There is both machine and hand quilting; the hand quilting she calls her “Morse Code” technique.

I was quite taken by these embroidered circles. And I love the color! I had just been complaining to my friend about all the dull grey quilts that everyone seems to like now. She pointed out that Susan’s quilt was grey. It is indeed, but the colors she used are brights – not the colors with grey added. It’s just wonderful.

Melinda Bula:

You may remember that I took a class with her to make her wonderful zinnia quilt. I can’t say enough about her stunning quilts and easy-going manner in the classroom. Looking at Waratah on the computer screen, I am struck by its beautiful graphic quality. In person you see her layers and layers of machine quilting and the lovely hand dyed fabrics that she often uses.

And her Monet in Pasadena. It was a hot day in Asheville and I wanted to swim among the lily pads.

Lea McComas:

I believe I saw this quilt in a magazine and I was delighted to be able to see it up close and personal. Bike Boys is amazing – Lea used 114 threads which added up to 8 miles of stitching.

This ad below was her inspiration! This is also a good shot to see her thread painting. Can you see how thick it is?

Barbara Olson:

I have seen Barbara Olson’s quilts many times at various quilt shows. Her work is constantly evolving and I was really struck by Life Unfolding. Do click on the picture to see the amazing detail, fabrics, colors and stitching!

And her Peacock Flower. (The Guild labeled this Stroke of Blue but on her website it is called Peacock Flower.) Talk about juicy color…

What is it about seeing art or fine craft in person? I feel refreshed and energized. I hope you do as well!







































New/Old Rug Hooking Project

I do like to hand quilt, but doing the same hand motion repeatedly can lead to pain and carpal tunnel, so I thought hooking would be a nice break. The project I talked about doing in this post turns out not to be something to do while watching the Super Bowl and the Olympics. Soooo I dug around for something else, and I came across this rug which I have started twice! The designs originally were for first time hookers and are reminiscent of sampler quilts that I have done over the years. I liked the idea of a sampler rug and if I teach beginning hooking again, I can point at the squares and ask “which one would you like to do?”. Teachers of any sort of craft end up with a lot of (useless) samples. Here you can see students working on the heart and flower pattern in the middle row on the right.

When I began the rug, we lived in Illinois and I was into dark colors. They don’t appeal to me now (in South Carolina). So I ripped out the squares I had done and started hooking some marbelized dyed fabrics, which I think are so fun.

Then I stopped because I wasn’t happy with this square – is it too busy? I’ve decided to try another square and mull this one over.

You can see in the picture of the whole rug that there are empty squares between the patterned ones. And of course, in the tradition of these sort of antique rugs, I need to decide what to hook in the alternate squares. I looked at rugs for sale online and stole these to show you and consider for myself.

This is a beauty!

Here is a real log cabin look.

Stripes would be the easiest and use lots of wool strips up. This makes me think of a runner in my grandparents’ house that I’ve wonderred about since I began hooking. I wish I knew if it was a hand made one.

And the caption on this wonderful design said it is made of vintage ladies wool bathing suits! I really like the scallop-y nature of this filler…

Lots of fun choices!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Peter is starting to prepare the game day food as I write this…




















The First Runner/Mat Design

Did you notice that I am weaving again???

Peter took the loom apart more than usual for the move and so I needed his help to get her together again. While gathering her pieces, he decided that she needed to be oiled and cleaned. Wasn’t that nice of him? Doesn’t every girl like to be fussed over? While he was working on her over several days, I got cold feet about what I might weave on her first. What did I want to weave and would I remember how to do everything? I feel this way after every move. So of course I decided to start simply and making my usual rag runner/mats seemed safe. My first idea came from a quilt on a Modern Quilt website that I thought it was a bit dull for a quilt, but seemed like it might make an interesting rag runner/mat. I found some leftover muslin fabric from Santa making for the center section and I have lots of  bits of hand dyed cotton samples which I stripped into 2″ pieces to add at either end. It was a bit fussy to weave, but I am very pleased with the result.

Fussy striped woven runner/mats

I meant to measure the runners before washing them, but I was too excited! Shrinkage after washing is a fact of weaving and it annoys me when weavers sell pieces (which will eventually need to be washed) and don’t wash them! When it looks entirely different after washing, the customer thinks something is wrong or that it was poorly constructed…

These mats are much “messier” than I usually weave with rags. Adding colored strips on either selvedge is a bit tricky and then the spliced overlap of the natural and colored fabrics really shows. After working on it for awhile, I decided not to fret. I like the nubbly texture and the selvedges are pretty darn even given what I was weaving. I don’t usually do anything special where the center of the runner/mat will be. That area usually has candles, or a bowl of fruit or things like salt and pepper or pickles or jam!

I was planning to use this runner on the kitchen table, but decided I would prefer it in the diningroom. I put the runners across the table, so we can use them as placemats, hence the term runner/mat. I bought these multi colored plates many years ago at Tang’s Department store in Singapore. I have always loved them and I think they look very special on this runner/mat.

It feels good to have finally woven something!

{Should you need tips on Macomber looms:  http://macomberloomsandme.blogspot.com }





The Incredible Work of Salley Mavor

I have followed Salley Mavor’s work for a very long time. I think the first time I saw it was in Fiberarts Magazine’s annual book. I was blown away by her tiny people/dolls and all the amazing details that I could see. Happily, she has a show at The Upcountry History Museum in Greenville and I was finally able to see her work up close and personal! I’m not sure where to start with all the pictures that I took…

The show was called A Pocketfull of Posies, the title of a book that she wrote and illustrated. Thus the tags by her work were about the Nursery Rhymes and not how she did what she did and it was billed as a children’s exhibit… Let’s start with two very familiar Nursery Rhymes, Old Mother Hubbard and Hickory Dickory Dock. Her dolls are all about 4″ tall! Look at all the wonderful details from Mother’s cutwork apron to the wooden pieces for the furniture. Salley has written several books about how to recreate her work and I read that the heads are wooden beads and the armature is usually pipe cleaners!

Valley Mavor Old Mother Hubbard

All the arms and legs are wrapped and the figures have shoes. I should have brought my reading glasses to see even closer, but it looked like the dolls even have finger nails!!! I believe this part of the piece is Daffy-Down- Dilly. I took this close-up so you could see the embellishments that she used. I found myself examining the leaves in all Salley’s work. The stitch is button-hole and she usually has several layers of color.

Salley Mavor Daffy-Down-Dilly

What a charming sense of humor! Do you see the Old Woman’s house? (Perhaps it’s not such a joke since Salley is a New Englander after all.)

Valley Mavor Old Mother Hubbard

The sheep lover in me was entranced by the next two photographs. Here is Baa Baa Black Sheep and you can really see the lovely felt she used. In perusing her website, I discovered that she did purchase hand-dyed (and perhaps hand felted) felt. The colors were soft and uneven, adding more depth to the work.

Salley MavorBaa Baa Black Sheep

And here is Little Bo Peep. This piece was interesting in that the girl has a felt face, rather than a bead. Notice her apron…

Salley Mavor Little Bo Peep

What exquisite chain stitching; so tiny and so precise. I wondered what this was doing in the show, but then realized that it was for the frontispiece of the book. (Or perhaps not called the frontispiece but the pages when you open the book?) Her work is framed in lovely shadowbox frames made by her husband. I tried to get out of the way when I was photographing.

Salley Mavor frontispiece

I believe that this show is done traveling, but if you look at Salley’s website, there are other shows to look for. Salley’s website and blog have a wealth of information, should you be interested. She has many videos which I am looking froward to watching, as I think I must make a doll! In the latest blog post, Salley announced that she is selling these pieces! I would love to have one…

Seasonal Projects – Finished!

I began a set of four seasonal cross stitch samplers by the very wonderful  Birds of a Feather some time ago, I’m not sure when! I got this one out in January and finished it up, and then continued throughout this year. I’m very proud of myself.

Birds of a Feather Holiday Seasons

As you may remember, I just love these quirky patterns and the brown background is fun to work on, though a bit hard to see. This pattern is still available – buy here. All of them are now framed and I tried all over the house but could not find a place or a way to photograph them without reflection, so here is the pattern so you can see them all!

Birds of a Feather Pattern

I enjoy changing pictures and artwork on the walls. I began doing seasonal projects when we lived in Singapore in 1993 and 1994. Singapore is about 50 miles from the Equator and the weather there is hot and humid most of the time. The “locals” say “same-same. It is a bit depressing for those of us used to four seasons. I started a Prairie Schooler cross stitch pattern and then sewed it in the middle of a quilt square. And I did more and more. The squares are not finished; I staple them on to a stretcher frame and hang them up at the proper time.

Turkey cross stitch quilt square

Before I began quilting, I was an avid cross stitcher and thought it would be fun to combine both crafts.

Watermelon cross stitch quilt square

I was a very new quilter then, and it was fun to leaf through my pattern books and find and draft a quilt square that enhanced the cross stitch.

Rabbit cross stitch quilt square

There are a few “holes” – – – I haven’t made any new squares for quite awhile. I need February and May and July, I think.

Santa cross stitch quilt square

Perhaps when I have some spare time and no other projects to work on, I’ll get out my box of cross stitch patterns and do a new one!  ;-D

Hmong Reverse Applique’

Reverse appliqué is not a very popular technique in the quilting world, but I like to do it. In “regular” appliqué, there is a background fabric and pieces are sewn onto the top. In reverse appliqué, the background fabric is on the top and the appliqué fabric is basted on to the back. The top/background fabric is {carefully!} cut and the fabric turned under and sewn down. Well-known examples of this are the molas of Panama and Hawaiian style quilts. In this signature square for my first Baltimore Album quilt, the background is the creamy white. The lavender dotted fabric is “regular” appliqué. The dark pink fabric was basted under the white fabric, which was cut and then sewn. Then the cross stitched fabric was also basted under the white fabric… You can go on and on with this technique.

Heart reverse applique

If you’ve attended any big quilt show, you’ve seen a booth or two, stacked with lovely and intricate reverse appliqué pieces made by Hmong ladies. On a trip to Laos and Thailand many year ago, I had the great pleasure to meet a group of sewers when we were in Luang Prabong, Laos. These ladies were sitting in a field, stitching away.

Hmong quilter

These pieces are not just for pretty but used on their clothing. I don’t seem to have a photograph of anyone in that very traditional dress, but you can see that the strip of the appliqué she is working on could be sewn on the blue part of her jacket, and a wider piece might go on her sleeve. If you click on the link above or Google the Hmong, you will see that their clothing is quite incredible with the cacophony (?) of the all appliquéd pieces!

Another Hmong woman

Why am I telling you about this? Wait for the nest post to find out!


Hooking at the Florida Harbor Hookin’

The room at the Florida Harbor Hookin’ was – obviously – filled with women hooking. Between classes, the vendors and people to talk to, many seats were empty, but still, there was a lot of hooking going on. Here are some of the fun pieces I saw.

My table mate, Suzanne, was working on this great runner. The photograph that came with the pattern showed that the designer had hooked it in browns and beiges, but Suzanne asked her teacher for bright colors. These really do sing, don’t they?

Suzanne's runner

It was fun to be in Florida and see what colors and motifs the ladies chose! This woman was finishing up a project that her friend had started. What a cute bunch of frogs.

Frog hooked rug

This is a great start to what is going to be an interesting piece. The hooker wasn’t at her seat, but from the drawing on the linen, it has a very Zentangle feel to it. What a fun project to hook!

Zentangle hooked rug

This was a pillow design I found in the Heavens to Betsy booth. For those of you who are not rug hookers, at the bottom you see what a design drawn on linen might look like, when you buy it. It’s like a coloring book. This was hooked using very wide strips.

Heavens to Betsy pillow

This wonderful piece was also designed and hooked by my dip dyed scrolls teacher, Angela Foote. I asked if this was dip dyed wool as well, but she said that she hooked with variegated wools (dump dyes). I really like the intensity of her colors.

Angela Foote design

These next rugs were designed and hooked by Carol Feeney, whose work I was happy to discover! She and her husband moved to Florida some years ago and she said that her designs and colors are greatly influenced by the area. I seem to have photographed many of her tile series; this is called Aesthetic.

Carol Feeney  Aesthetic


This is Flower Medallion Tile. Her colors are so rich and her hand dyed wool adds such texture. This piece is probably larger than it looks at 39″x39″.

Carol Feeney Flower Medallion Tile

This is Funky Flower Tile. I was really drawn to the lacy leaves and asymmetry of this piece. Click on this photo to see the many fibers she uses – funky yarns, sari ribbons and even buttons and beads.

Carol Feeney Funky Flower Tile

And just one more – this is Double Trouble Tile. This piece has lots of interesting fibers hooked in the design as well.

Carol Feeney Double Trouble Tile

I was inspired and delighted by all the rugs I saw. And now, I have added the heart scrolls piece to my rugs-to-finish list!

Houston’s Ruby Show: Florals

Flowers… I’m always drawn to them, either in the garden or a convention center. Every year, the floral quilts seem to get better and better. Here are some of my favorites.

Murdererskill Crossing by Janet Atkins was a surprise to me – it is entirely hand made! Generally speaking, the quilts in that category are very traditional in design with subdued color. Janet worked outside the box and everything about this quilt is wonderfully wonky. The color sings because blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel – it’s a pleasing combination but also punchy, because of the intensity of the values she chose. She won a prize for this beauty.

Murdererskill Crossing

Andrea Brokenshire created Yellow Mellow in Paradise. I quote from her description :”hand painted fused appliqué turned edge on a confetti-style background”. That’s a mouthful, but it makes for a stunning quilt. There is something almost etherial about the lemon yellows – you can see this quilt from quite far away. It sings like Fall colored leaves do on a dim and gloomy day.

Yellow Mellow in Paradise

I like Cleomes in my yard and so Spider Lilies appeals to me as well. Carol Morrissey is the maker of this quilt and it is fused and painted appliqué on a whole cloth background. The size of the flowers makes this quite stunning.

Spider Lilies

In Bloom, by Renee Caswell is machine appliquéd and stitched. This design has the feel of a botanical print of old, but has a more contemporary feel to it. As she says in her statement, it’s a flower that won’t fade.

In Bloom

This last quilt is the complete  opposite of the first one I wrote about and I did want to separate them for that reason. Magnolia, by Sylvia Gegaregian, really drew me in. I love the simplicity and stylization of the flower! Sylvia used a variety of techniques to create this piece, all by machine. Do click on the photo to examine the juicy center, which is nicely balanced by the magenta diamonds around the flower. This is one elegant quilt.



Snapping & Snipping the Zinnias

I love zinnias! For me, they are the official flower of Summer. I bought two kinds to plant this year and planted them all over. I can never have too many zinnias! I always buy assorted colors because I enjoy the surprise of what comes up. I know a woman who buys the same three colors every Summer and I think “what’s the fun in that?”. When you have so many colors, cutting the flowers for arrangements is such a treat. But I’m not a Type A, for sure.

The zinnia plants are huge this year! Whether it’s the South Carolina weather or the fertilizer I apply once a week, many of them are over 5 feet tall.

Zinnia season

First I snap pictures of them. I am planning on designing some quits a la Melinda Bula and I need references. I have a quilt top using her zinnia pattern ready to quilt, but I have some ideas of my own to try.

Red zinnia

One of the zinnias is your garden variety (;-D), but the second kind I planted are called peppermint stick –  a variety I discovered years ago. It’s an heirloom that doesn’t germinate as well as the others, but I love the shibori-like look of them. Each one has its own pattern. Some have the tiniest marks

Barely Peppermint

and some have bold stripes

Bold peppermint

and this year a half and half colored one has appeared! Each flower is perfectly divided in half as is the middle. It’s a curious one for sure.

Half and half zinnia

There are some whose seeds I am going to collect for next year because their colors are so amazing. This magenta color doesn’t seem to photograph well – the color is much more intense than this…

Magenta zinnia

After photographing the flowers, then I snip them to bring indoors to enjoy. I’m wondering how many more week of Summer-like, zinnia friendly weather we have…


AQS Charlotte Show: Modern Quilts

AQS issued a Modern Quilts challenge  and so there were many of this sort of quilt at the show in Charlotte. For those of you non-quilters, check out this link for a definition of what a modern quilt is. As any arty group does, quilters are always redefining themselves…

This is Modern Mirage by Lee Heinrich. I think the color here is a bit off – one photo has the background showing as pink and this one as blue. It was closer to white! I very much like the colors and the circular sort of stars pattern.

Modern Mirage

Orange Creamsicle was made by Renee Eudaley. Impossible to photograph in the convention lighting was the variety of machine quilting on this quilt. Many modern quilters rely on a straight stitch, but not this quilt! There’s a lot to admire.

Orange Creamsicle

Marina Kontsevaya made Warm or Cold? One of the typical colors associated with modern quilting is gray, and though I like gray, I am not fond of colors with gray added. This warm (it looks warm to me!) sort of kraft paper color appeals to me, as do the colors that look well with it. Many modern quilters use commercial fabrics in solid colors, and I notice that Marina, as well as a few others I chose, included some prints.

Warm or Cold?

Waterfall by Sandra Morgan Cockrum was actually in the bed quilt category. I would very much like to see this quilt on a bed – either a modern, floating platform bed or even an antique iron one would showcase this great design!


And here is my favorite – Graphic Garden by Kendra Biddle. The shape of it is so appealing and the bright pops of x’s or crosses with the many, many “almost whites” is great.

Graphic Garden

Here’s a detail that better shows all the light-colored fabrics. And I’d like you to get an idea of the variety of fabrics she used in her quilt! She notes in her interview (the link above) that amassing those neutrals was the hard part. I have some that I could have contributed!

Graphic Garden detail

There was another show sponsored by AQS and because they have a book about it, there was no photography allowed! I was sorry as there were several quilts that caught my eye. Each year AQS chooses a traditional quilt block – this year it was Carolina Lily – and quilters create a quilt with that pattern as the starting point. It is amazing to see what ideas they come up with. When I was a new quilter, I used to buy the books to give me ideas. Back in 1989, quilts were pretty traditional and I wanted to get some ideas about what might be possible.


Next up: People, mostly!