May 24, 2023: Sweet Journeys nearing an end; Donation top completed; AQS Winners; Earthly Delights

Greetings dear readers! Eight years in, Sweet Journeys is very near its final destination!😊. I completed the hand quilting in the center medallion and the 12th and final block in the center:

Now all that’s left before binding is hand quilting the equivalent of about 3/4 of one border! I’ve decided not to quilt in the sashing strips. Here’s a glance at the whole thing; the colors are too burnished because of the indoor night lighting – colors in the above photos are truer:

I’m pretty sure I don’t have any more of the red sashing fabric to use as a binding so will probably choose black. Even with black, there are different shades and tones of it and it will have to match the black in the border fabric so a bit of a search might be ahead.

I finished the zigzag donation top!

You may notice that I turned the orientation of the zigzags vertical instead of horizontal for this photo. I think I like it better this way, but it’s a square lap quilt so the orientation ultimately doesn’t really matter.

Here’s the fabric I used as the backing:

It’s perfect! I picked up 4 2/3 yards of it for FREE at my Guild’s “Fabricpalooza” at the April meeting. Our Community Quilts Committee members accept all kinds of fabric donations from many sources throughout the year, sometimes large parts of stashes when someone moves or dies. When the amount piles up, we have a “Fabricpalooza” at a guild meeting and anyone can take any fabrics they want as long as they make at least one donation quilt. What a deal! The other thing I want to say about the fabric is that when I picked this up, I wasn’t familiar with the name of the designer Judy Roche. The very next day, my friend Wendy on her blog “The Constant Quilter” posted about Judy’s recent death and talked about how she was such a generous and kind person and willing to share her vast quilting knowledge with Wendy over the years. I’m glad I could grace this quilt with her fabric.

I saved photos from the internet of 2 amazing winning quilts from last month’s AQS show in Paducah to share with you. The hand work on these quilts, both by Japanese quilters, is incredible!! I regret not seeing these in person. First is the overall winner of the Handwork award:

This next one is the winner of the best hand quilting award:

Spring continues to inspire me. Look at the beautiful coral/red/gold colors on these tulips!

Spring greens are gradually morphing into their more intense summer shades. Here’s a section of the bog:

The path to and through the bog is littered with obstacles, just as real life is – watch where you are going and be careful where you step! 🙂:

Baby pine cones are out on the kazillions of pine trees:

Beech tree buds:

I hope you are all enjoying the wonders of the season and finding joy and comfort in your stitching!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

May 18, 2023: The machine returns! Last of the basket blocks and more…

Greetings dear readers! I finally got my sewing machine back on Saturday, after 3 weeks! Apparently the shop I use (a fabric shop/Bernini dealer) has only one person, off site, who does maintenance and repairs and it’s a part time job, so prone to delays. Maybe this is an excuse for me to purchase a backup machine 😊; maybe a smaller and lighter one, easier to take to workshops…..😉. Anyway, I missed my routine of spending some time every morning doing machine work and am happy to finally be back in the groove. The first thing I did was finish the last 10 basket blocks:

That’s 98 of these done! I took them all off the design wall and will put them away for a few weeks while I finish other things. My older grandchildren got their “big bed” quilts when they were 7. Ursula, who is getting this, is only 4, so I have plenty of time!

The second thing I did on the machine was make the 4 corner blocks for the zig-zag donation quilt with the vine borders. These required machine appliquéing the petals.

The corner blocks are only 5 1/4 inches square and I was worried the machine appliqué would pucker and distort so I put a stabilizer on the back – the above pictured Sulky Totally Stable iron on – and it worked perfectly and was pretty easy to peel off and tear away after the appliqué was completed.

Next up is attaching the borders and corners to the quilt.

The third thing I did was make 6 more blocks for the curvy improv quilt I started in Cindy Grisdela’s class. Once they were done I played around, moving several pieces. Since this is a learning experience, I knew I didn’t want to overly obsess about it and quickly decided on a final layout. In the photo, the 4 blocks in the upper left corner are sewn together:

I actually don’t think it looks bad!! I like how the lower shape in the center looks like a basket. The challenge will continue with a border that uses curves and then a facing instead of a binding. Goal: finish in time to show at my guild’s July meeting in which members are to show a finished quilt started in a workshop.

Speaking of guild meetings, we had Timna Tarr as our speaker this week and she was excellent! I love her quilts, which have won lots of awards, and am especially drawn to her use of color. Here are some photos:

She said circles and strings are her go to design elements any time she needs to just sew something she’s comfortable with or struggles with what to make next. The next quilt is Cataena, the quilt based on the “endless chain” block and which inspired my own “Inner Reaches of Outer Space” – I used her basic pattern, but my own colors, values, etc.:

She is currently doing mosaic style quilts, mostly of animals. She showed a photo that was marked in a diagonal grid and the quilt made from it:

She did a workshop for the guild on the mosaic technique and I was unfortunately unable to take it.

I try to sew connector pieces to 1 or 2 hexagon stars each day. Here are the Row 14 ones done so far:

Last week I walked in the woods with a friend and her dog. She ended up taking more than 50 deer ticks off the dog and 2 off herself after she got home. I got one off my scalp. Where I live, in northern New England, we need to be very vigilant for ticks and aware of the danger of getting Lyme Disease. I usually am careful so not too worried about where I walk, but that dog was a magnet for ticks! Here are some of my recent “earthly delights”:

Fern opening up:

Close up on the fronds – are these some kind of spores?:

Chokeberry blossoms:

Dandelion!:

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

May 12, 2023: Hand sewing; Loving spring!; Books

Greetings dear readers! I’m late in posting this week because of a lot going on; most importantly, I have a car! We managed to find the same model car I’ve been driving for years, but 7 years newer than my previous one, with only 35,000 miles on it – less than a third of the mileage on my previous car. It’s an amazingly reliable car and because I’m already familiar with the model, the learning curve will be easier – whew! It feels really good to have that task out of the way, thanks to great research and time put in by my wonderful husband 😊. We celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary on Sunday; I’m so grateful!

I still do not have my sewing machine back! It’s been almost 3 weeks now 🙁. The shop keeps telling me there’s only one part time person doing maintenance and repairs and he’s gotten behind. So I’m staying busy with Sweet Journeys and the Hexagon Stars. On SJ, I studied the center medallion and made some decisions about the quilting – nothing too fancy because I want the appliqué design to get most of the attention.

I formulated a plan for filling in the chopped up open spaces behind the appliqué in the center and got started:

I have all the tan connector pieces attached to the stars (definitely the most tedious part of this project) in row 13 of the HS project and am sewing the stars together in a row – then I have to repeat that for rows 14 and 15.

I put all the completed basket blocks back up on the design wall – 88!

I have 8 blocks all prepped for sewing and need to pick fabrics for 2 more to make 98 in all. Then I need to decide if I’m adding sashing and what color (green?) and decide what to use for setting triangles. For the latter, I’m leaning toward a mix of the fabrics I’ve used for block backgrounds.

After a period of numerous raw, gloomy, rainy days, we finally have had almost a week of glorious spring weather. I took a walk to the river and reveled in the light green leaves poking out, starting to fill the spaces between the trees:

The river was running really high after all the rain:

The sound of it rushing along is very soothing and centering for me. I moved from studying buds to studying baby leaves:

And COLOR is back!😊:

I walked with a friend yesterday in the woods near her home and she showed me a place on the river (same river I walk to from my home but 2-3 miles further along) where turtles sun themselves on fallen logs. The first 2 photos are 2 separate logs – the turtles are gray spots on the logs, nearer to the shore – can you see them? – and the third photo is the best closeup I could get. If you get too close, the turtles sense your presence and slip into the water:

I read another book that I highly recommend:

It’s a story about family relationships. There were some parts that seemed contrived, but in the end I didn’t care because I enjoyed Napolitano’s telling of the story so much. Professional reviews of the book were mostly very, very positive; reader reviews were more mixed with plenty of positives, but a few negatives, especially those who didn’t like the parts that seemed contrived and were unwilling to “suspend disbelief” like I was. I normally don’t pay much attention to Oprah’s book choices, but I’m actually very much looking forward to her most recent one as well:

This is his 4th book, second novel. I’ve read all 3 of his previous books and loved every one and highly recommend them all. Perhaps one of the attractions for me is that Verghese is a medical doctor, an actively practicing infectious disease specialist and the practice of medicine has played a role in all 3 previous book; I think in this new one as well.
I’d better close this post and get back to reading the (thick!) manuals on how to use my new car!!😊

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

May 2, 2023: VQF Cancelled; Prep Work; Decisions!; Book recommendation; More Buds

Greetings dear readers! I received the sad message via email Sunday evening that the Vermont Quilt Festival is canceled 😥. This was only 2 weeks after hearing that my quilts had been accepted for exhibit. The stated reason is financial. Although they didn’t go into details, they mentioned that the cost of everything has gone up and I think they must have realized that their projected attendance wasn’t going to cover their costs. This has always been a show heavily dependent on volunteers and I suspect they’re harder to come by these days. Vendors are less likely to travel unless they are sure they’re going to make money. I wouldn’t be surprised if the VQF is done for good 😥 and I think regional shows not run by major organizations like AQS, IQF, and Mancuso may struggle and/or close. Local guild shows still have the potential to thrive as long as they are enthusiastically run by guild volunteers. The VQF has been very good to me over the years, allowing me to share my work with a larger audience and honoring me with many awards, including one cherished Best of Show. I haven’t entered a national level show since 2017 and will need to think about whether I want to go back to that…. Meanwhile, Golden Glow and The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, which were going to be in the show will stay put on the display rack in my living room 😊:

Without my machine this past week, I focused on hand and prep work. I cut all the pieces for the next 8 baskets and appliqued all the basket handles:

These are all ready to go now when I get the machine back – hopefully later today.

I made 3 hexagon stars:

And the 4th – and LAST ONE! – is ready to be stitched together:

Several more inches of the Sweet Journeys border is quilted:

I cut out all the pieces I need for the corners of the donation quilt, as well as the strips for the narrow brown border:

BEHIND THE SCENES (i.e. not my quilting life😊): Decisions!! Life is full of them, every day, big and small, inconsequential to life changing. Although I prefer to focus more attention on finding satisfaction and joy and appreciation in the daily life I actually have, it can be interesting to consider the infinite ways things would have been different if certain decisions had been different. E.g. the college I chose to attend had a profound effect on every aspect of the rest of my life, including my career and meeting my husband. College choice has been on my mind because our grandson just chose the Honors College at the University of Vermont to study environmental science and engineering next year. We’re proud of him!

Al and I recently made a major decision – it was not an easy one! – to get on a waiting list for a local CCRC – “Continuing Care Retirement Community”. There is a 3-5 year waiting period and we hope we’ll be healthy enough to wait for more than 5 years, till we’re in our 80’s, before we feel the need to move. The independent living section has lots of wonderful amenities and several people I know who have moved there (including 2 quilting buddies!) love it. And they have assisted living and nursing care if needed down the road. It’s sobering to think about what one’s options are once physical decline makes home maintenance and other activities harder and harder, but it’s not good to just ignore the topic! We don’t have long term care insurance and feel that we won’t be able to rely on family for much help, so this seems like a good option for us.
We have another big decision facing us as well. Two days before our Costa Rica vacation, I was rear-ended by a pickup truck on the way home from shopping. His fault, no injuries. However, because my car was 11 years old and had 121,000 miles on it, the estimated cost of repairs exceeded what the insurance company deemed “do-able” and the car was declared “totaled.” The damage didn’t look that bad and the car was still driveable, but we were unable to convince the insurance company it could be fixed.😥. So, now we’re looking for a car. I’d love to get a hybrid, but they are currently hard to find, so we’ll see…..

I have an important quilting decision to make as well. There are 3 big quilts in the “ready to be quilted” pile. Here are bits of each and long time readers will remember these:

The quilt top in the front is “Time of Plenty” and has been completed since August of 2020. Once “Sweet Journeys “ is finished, I will start hand quilting this one, hopefully some time this summer. Of the other 2 – “Maple Leaf Rag” (completed a year ago) and “Stormy Weather” (completed this past November) – I am pretty sure I should have at least one of them machine quilted and invest in a very good machine quilter. Otherwise, it could be years before these are done. Which one should I choose for machine quilting first? Hard decision!! Feel free to weigh in if you want 🙂.
I’m reading a book I can recommend:

I’m not far into the book yet, but the writing is beautiful. And if you haven’t read Hall’s memoir, “Without A Map” which came out several years ago, it’s a must read!!

I’ll close out this post with some more spring buds:

Also, in my browsing around on Instagram before I go to bed at night, I came upon Martha Walker’s post at @wagonswestdesigns showing her winning quilt from the recent AQS Paducah show:

Isn’t it gorgeous! For me, it checks all the boxes for a wonderful quilt – combination of piecing and appliqué, circular designs, the red green and cheddar color combination, and a fabulous vine border with leaves, flowers, berries, and birds. Fantastic! Would love to see it in person.

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

April 26, 2023: Out of my comfort zone!; Hand work; Earthly Delights

Greetings dear readers! Last week I took an all day workshop with Cindy Grisdela on making and creating with improv curves (and strips) – totally out of my comfort zone! I believe strongly, though, that it’s good to periodically challenge ourselves to try new techniques and styles. And I am intrigued by some of the modern, improv quilts I see. The class was fun and, as always, I enjoyed sharing the experience with other quilters in my guild. Here’s Cindy with some of her quilts and her newest book:

We learned about color and shape and we cut our curves freehand, sewing without pins. We also learned how to FACE a quilt edge rather than add a binding. Cindy was a good and engaging teacher. I think I went home with 16 blocks and made 14 more at home the next day, so you know I enjoyed the process. Here’s what I have so far:

No one looking at this would think it’s mine, based on my past work! However, I like it enough to want to finish it! The blocks finish at 6 inches. It needs at least one more row of 6 blocks across the bottom. I’ll probably play some more with the block placement. Cindy showed us how to make long curved strips so I want to add a border of those and after it’s quilted I want to try the facing – have never done that before. Here are some closeups:

It’ll be a while till I can get the rest of the blocks done, because my sewing machine went in for its annual maintenance on Saturday. Since I only have one machine, I’m focusing on hand work until I get it back. No shortage of hand work to do here! I finished the 11th block of Sweet Journeys:

And I’m getting another chunk of the border quilted – it’s about 5/8 done. The finish line is in sight!🥳. I also brought the Hexagon Stars quilt out of its hibernation for more hand work this week:

10 rows are completely sewn together; there will be 15 rows. I’m sewing rows 11 and 12 together (it’s all entirely hand pieced):

I have all the stars for rows 13 and 14 made and most of row 15:

I made 3 more stars for row 15 (4 to go):

I needed to replenish my supply of “connector “ pieces- will need at least 80 more to connect all the stars of the last 3 rows – so have been making those:

Then I marked on each star of row 13 where the connector pieces need to be added, clipped them to the stars, and now have a baggie with those stars to work on whenever I need some hand work! I’ll eventually do the same for rows 14 and 15 and then sew all those rows together! I started this “long journey “ project in September of 2017 so am well into the 5th year, but it’s moving inexorably toward completion!😊

Before the machine went out, I finished all 4 vine and leaf borders for the donation quilt:

Thanks so much to the many readers who wrote to let me know you felt my tutorial was easy to understand and helpful! I thought of a couple things to add since then. The borders for this project are 48 inches long; if you want to do a vine for a border that is much longer, you will likely need to fold (or divide) your fabric into more than 8 sections or your curves may be too shallow. It’s still using the same basic principle, however, of dividing the strips into roughly equidistant sections and then fashioning the vines. Also, my borders are 5 inches wide. You may need to vary the distances of your sections based on how wide or narrow your borders are. Again, still the same basic principle. If you want to miter your corners and extend the vines into the corners, that would require another tutorial! 😊. For this quilt,I decided to use corner blocks and this is what I think I’m doing:

I like the way the flower petals echo the same stripe that the vines are made of and look forward to sewing the top together when the machine is back.

I am thoroughly enjoying my walks these days! The light, spring green color of the new leaves is almost as thrilling as the vibrant colors in the fall:

I love watching buds open and baby leaves unfurl:

The ferns are just popping out of the earth and seem to be coated with silky white strands:

I’m always on the lookout for wildlife. See the gray oval shape on the bank of the pond – a turtle:

Another turtle at the foot of this bush – do you see it?

It slipped into the water before I could get very close:

I hope you are all able to enjoy the awe inspiring wonder of nature whatever the season in your part of the globe!
Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

April 17, 2023: Vine Tutorial

Greetings dear readers! After my last post showing the vine I’m making for the donation quilt, a reader wondered how I’m making those vines so I’ve decided to do a tutorial since others may be interested as well. For this project, the vine doesn’t need to be perfectly symmetrical – “organic” (like in nature!🙂) is fine. (If you want a vine with perfectly even undulations, e.g. for competition, you may need to draw it out on paper first.)
First, prepare your border strip(s). I like to add an extra inch and a half on both ends because there can be shrinkage with appliqué and I fold the extra under (the extra will eventually be cut off):

Fold the strip in half and iron a crease at the fold. Fold in half again and iron creases at the fold; then fold in half a third time and iron again. What you’ve done is divided the border strip into 8 roughly equal sections:

Here’s the back side of the strip so you can see the creases better when you open it up:

On the right side, I’ve marked the creases with a Frixion pen so you can see them better:

Prepare your vine. My vines for this project are 3/8 inch wide so I cut BIAS strips 7/8 inch wide:

You need bias (rather than straight of grain) strips because you want to “curve” the vine. Sew your strips together and make sure your vine is long enough – the length of the border plus several extra inches. I use a Clover bias tape maker and, because I want a 3/8 inch wide vine, I need the #9 size tape maker. After sewing the strips together, cut your vine seam allowances narrow so they will go through the tape maker easily:

Fold the fabric together at the tip to get it started and then feed it into the tape maker, ironing it down as you go; I dab the strip with water as I go so that it holds its folds better:

Now you are ready to pin the vine to the border strip. Turn under the vine tip about 3/8 inch and pin or glue it. Start in one corner about 1 1/4 inches in and shape the vine – just by eyeing how it looks! – so that it reaches its peak and depth at every other crease, about 1 1/4 inch from the edge:

Pin as you go, shaping the gentle curve as you go:

Once it’s pinned, I like to look at it on the design wall to make sure I’m happy with it. Curves can be adjusted, smoothed, redone as needed.

My next step is to glue it down before sewing it down – it’s nice and flat and I don’t need to sew over pins. I love White School glue (given to me by Barb Vedder at “Fun With Barb” – see link on rt side) with a narrow tip applicator – you just need little dots. You can glue a bit at a time , unpinning and carefully lifting the vine as you go, but you have to be careful to keep the curving in place. I find it easier to mark along one edge of the pinned vine with a Frixion pen so I know exactly where to glue the vine:

After gluing, ironing it down creates a strong hold and then I stitch both edges and tips down by machine. The next couple photos show the vine stitching and the blanket stitch I use for appliquéing the fused “raw edge” leaves down.

I’m arranging 2 leaves in each curved area and here’s how the project is looking with 2 borders ready:

I plan to design some type of flower for the 4 corners. I hope the vine tutorial was helpful to some of you! It’s pretty easy and sometimes a vine border can add so much extra interest to an otherwise somewhat bland quilt!

I’ll end today’s post with a couple Earthly Delights:

I got good news this weekend – 2 of my quilts, “Golden Glow” and “The Inner Reaches of Outer Space “ will be showing at the Vermont Quilt Festival this June! Looking forward to an in-person festival this year for the first time since the pandemic!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

April 12, 2023: Project updates; Earthly Delights

Greetings dear readers! Thank you so very much to all of you who shared your thoughts with me on my last post regarding how to proceed with the Japanese log cabin quilt! I enjoy and appreciate each of your comments very much. As I read through them, I thought about the Tomie Nagano exhibit that was my inspiration and realized she did not add borders to any of her quilts. I agree with those of you who said the quilt doesn’t need a border; not to add one would be more in keeping with the original inspiration quilts. So, no border! The majority of you felt the current rectangular shape is fine as is. I think so too, but I am still not 100% sure I don’t want it to be square so I will mull that over for a while longer. My heartfelt thanks again!

I had a very productive week. I finished the hand quilting of the 10th block in the center of Sweet Journeys, keeping it simple with outline, echo, and straight line stitching:

Two blocks, part of the center medallion, and a bit less than half the border to go. I’ve returned to working on the border again for a while before tackling the next block. A remaining question is whether I need to add any quilting in the sashing…..?

I sewed together all the little circles and am contemplating adding a narrow gray border:

I’m currently thinking a “mini” is the way to go with this, but still considering adding some embroidery embellishment. Moving ahead on this is not a current priority 🙂.

I have hand appliqued 59 of the 69 leaves on the Quarter Log Cabin quilt border:

The past few days a main priority has been moving ahead on one of my donation quilts. At the last quilt guild meeting I was amazed at the quality of some of the quilts made for donation. Our “community quilts “ committee gave away over 300 quilts last year so donations are, proudly, a major activity for our guild. Our committee does a great job of locating organizations in the area that could use the quilts. I sewed together all the pieces for the zigzag quilt and took it outside to try to get a better representation of the colors:

It’s pretty bland as is so I decided it needs a nice border – vines and leaves of course! – and I’m challenging myself to do it all by machine – all my previous vine and leaves borders have been done by hand. I’m using Sue Nichols’ book and machine appliqué method and this fusible:


I’ll add a narrow brown border between the center and appliqued border:

The vine is machine sewn down, but the leaves are currently temporarily placed (the fusing is double sided) and will eventually be fused down and I’ll add machine blanket stitching around the edges of each one. That will be a bit time consuming, but not as much as doing it by hand!

I’m having fun with this and it’s so much faster than hand appliqué!!

The weather is warming up and every walk these days is one of discovery! “Catkins” are out on the flora around the pond:

Love the lines and shadows the light casts on this path before the leaves come out and obliterate them:

Trees in the process of decay, but having a sculptural beauty:

The lovely textures of birch bark:

Even dead and dried milk weed pods have their own beautiful pear-like forms:

And , yes, there is finally bright color appearing!:

Wishing you all happy stitching and the joy of the changing seasons!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

April 4, 2023: SOJ – a change of plans!; Donation quilt; Earthly Delights

Greetings dear readers! Spring comes slowly in northern New England, but I now have occasional days when I can sit outside on the deck in the sun, with a thin jacket on, and appliqué as I soak in the warmth 😊. Heavenly! On the other hand, we had a dusting of snow in the wee hours Saturday….

“Spirit of Japan #7: Treasure Trove” was inspired by the Tomie Nagano exhibit I saw at the NEQM in late December. Over the last 3 months, I’ve pieced 120 log cabin blocks using mostly a combination of Japanese “taupe” style fabrics and “authentic” Japanese indigos, remnants of Japanese garments, etc. Here are the last 8 blocks, done since my last post:

Here’s what it looked like with 100 blocks, arranged in the “sunshine and shadows” variation:

The plan was to add the last 20 blocks to the bottom, keeping this S&S arrangement. However, after adding the blocks, I started playing and ended up with this:

I’m sorry that the color in both photos is not accurate. I like the combination of the “barn raising” LC arrangement in the center and the “sunshine and shadows” arrangement in the 4 corners because it seems more dynamic and less static than just the S&S variation. Would love to hear what you think! A remaining question is whether this is OK as a rectangle or whether I should strongly consider making it a symmetrical square by adding one more block width to each side, making it a 12 block x 12 block square (72 inches square) instead of 10 blocks across and 12 down rectangle (60 inches X 72 inches). Feel free to weigh in if you have any thoughts on that too! Another issue is whether it needs a border. If I add more blocks to make it a square, I don’t think it needs a border. I’m not sure about the rectangular version.

Borders – certainly not in vogue with modern quilters. I looked at the 44 winning quilts from Quilt Con – only one had a true, clearly defined border! 4 others had visible borders which were incorporated into the overall design. 39 had no borders. I happen to like borders a lot and think they frequently enhance a quilt’s appearance, though I definitely don’t think every quilt needs one.
Meanwhile, even if I do decide to add more blocks, I’m taking a break and have taken the blocks off the design wall by rows:

Quite the stack!!😊

I am taking advantage of the open design wall to work on a donation lap quilt. I have been making half square triangles using 5 inch charm squares of reproduction and “Kansas Troubles” style fabric accumulated over several years. Lots of different designs can be made from HST’s and I finally decided on zig zags:

This photo shows the colors much better:

Just starting to sew these small (finish 4 inches) blocks into groups of 4; hope to have the center all sewed together in a few days – 48 inches square – and then will add a border.

I’m continuing to look for signs of spring. The river was exceedingly low last fall after a drought, but after all the snow and rain this winter is running high again:

The bog which had been dry is full of water again:

And weeping willows are showing their pale limey-green yellow early color:

It’s National Poetry Month and for my book group, I’m reading a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Parts of the book are a bit of a slog, but overall I’m glad I’m reading it because it’s an interesting look at a female artist who in many ways personified the “jazz age” of the 1920’s. I also did not know much about her poetry and have now happily become acquainted with several of her best classics.

Wishing you all happy stitching!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

March 28, 2023: Walking; Quilting projects update; Japanese quilts

Greetings dear readers! Two days ago there was a wonderful guest essay in the New York Times titled “ Whatever the Problem, It’s Probably Solved By Walking.” It emphasizes how walking is not only great for us physically, but for our mental, spiritual, and intellectual health as well. It fuels our creativity! It reminded me of the article on “awe” walks that I mentioned some time ago. It also reminded me that one of the very few good things to come out of the pandemic for me was becoming a dedicated walker. I enjoy walking alone, but I’m now also much more likely to meet a friend for a walk rather than for a lunch. Sharing a walk is one of life’s real pleasures! I’m looking for signs of spring now. Trees are just starting to bud out, a couple weeks earlier than usual, I think. Here’s the pussy willow tree at the pond:

And here is a group of shag bark hickory trees followed by a photo of a bud, soon to begin opening:

The green color of this lichen is intense – welcome color in the winter landscape, especially against the snow which still lingers in patches shaded from the sun:

The green of the moss also adds color before all the other flora of spring and summer take over:

Meanwhile, in the sewing room, a dozen more log cabin blocks have been completed:

Showing the next four as a group:

Only 8 more blocks to go!

I completed the hand quilting on the 9th (of 12) block of “Sweet Journeys” – slow but steady progress!

Appliquéing those little circles on vacation sparked a desire to do some more appliqué, prompting me to get out this quilt top which has been hibernating for a while:

The 72 border leaves were all basted down, but the final appliqué stitching needed to be done, so I got started and have one side completed!
I recently made the appointment for my machine to have its annual cleaning and servicing. I am religious about doing this and think it’s one of the reasons my trusty Bernini has NEVER given me any trouble during the 19 years I’ve had it! I’m one of the few quilters who has only ONE machine so will have to focus on hand work during the week it’s in the shop. How many machines do you have, dear reader? Do you have them regularly serviced?

I do love having my machine set into the table!!

Browsing through Instagram I have noticed that in the past 6 months there have been a couple of quilt shows in Japan, one in Yokohama in November and one in Tokyo this month. I think they are trying to come up with something to replace the Tokyo International Quilt Festival which folded after the 2020 show. I’m keeping an eye on this as I would love to go back some day. Here are 3 quilts from those shows that caught my eye. The first one is by Sanada Masako – incredible piecing!

The next one is by Kurihara Yoshiko. I’ve seen and loved her work before – she does a great job depicting human figures and faces in a graphic sort of way:

I couldn’t find the name of the maker of this stunning flower quilt:

I’ll finish with 2 more sunset photos from Costa Rica:

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi

March 21, 2023: Travel project; “Spirit of Japan #7”; more CR photos

Greetings dear readers! Happy spring! I am relishing the extra daylight hours. Even though the weather and the landscape here in northern New England still look and feel like winter, I know that welcome change is coming soon.
Like many quilters, I like to have a handwork project with me when I travel. For the trip to Costa Rica, I needed something small that wouldn’t taken up room in my carry-on bag and something that would be very easy to do. Nothing already in the works fit the bill. Nothing is easier and more relaxing than appliquéing circles, so I prepped 25 little 2 inch circles to appliqué onto 3 1/2 inch squares, knowing I could figure out what to do with them later – a mini, a pillow, a medallion center for something larger, etc. Here are some of the blocks I made:


I finished more than half on the trip and the rest soon after getting home and started playing with them on the design wall:

I cut setting triangles and here’s what I have so far:

When sewn together, this will be only a bit over 16 inches square – pretty small. Not sure yet whether I’ll stop here or make it bigger. Also thinking about adding some embroidery embellishments. Fun!

My Japanese log cabin quilt is #7 in my “Spirit of Japan” series. I’m thinking about calling it “ Treasure Trove” because of the “treasure trove” of fabrics it features. I’m now up to 100 blocks, 20 more to go!

Here are closeups of the most recently completed blocks:

I am truly enjoying using and appreciating these lovely fabrics. I would love to hear from anyone else who is using this style of fabric since I rarely seem to see them anymore in shows, magazines, blogs, etc.

I’ll be sharing more photos from Costa Rica over the next few posts, especially since my own landscape is still pretty barren. The colorful flora was such a welcome change!! The first photo is ginger:


The abstract lines and colors of some palm tree trunks were startlingly beautiful:

We took a boat trip through a mangrove forest and those tangled trunks were very sculptural:

One place we had lunch outdoors had a half dozen peacocks – gorgeous! They were making quite a racket. I’ve seen a few over my lifetime, but not sure I’d ever heard them squawking before. That blue color is so intense and beautiful!

The skies were incredible. Huge clouds would just sit in place for long stretches of time and sometimes there would be storm clouds over the mountains with beautiful sun a short distance away over the beach.

The sunset from the hot tub at the villa:

Enjoy the rest of National Quilting Month with some fun stitching!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day, Gladi