Thursday, April 28, 2022


It's been nearly a full month since I started making improv bead blocks, inspired by an element in Irene Roderick's "Improv Quilting." Besides being a way to use some scraps in a new quilt, I also decided to have the project be a sort of retirement commemoration for myself. Why not, right?

If you remember, the palette is that of the branding of the church where I worked - brick(ish), teal, gray, and purple. I pulled scraps in those colors, and for a while, just made strings and strings of 'beads.'

Eventually, of course, I needed to start coming up with an overall quilt design, and chose a long 'string' of bead blocks; which for me, represented the many connections I'd made over the years in my work. Pretty early on I decided I needed a common 'background' color, and settled on Kona Lighthouse. Then as I progressed along, I added in more background grays - Kona Silver and Titanium + a forgotten-named Cotton Couture gray. I incorporated them because I wasn't sure if I would have enough of the Lighthouse, and I'm so glad I did, as the mix added some fun interest I think. AND I was right - I ended up using every last inch of the Lighthouse by the time the quilt was finished.

Anyway, I 'strung' the groupings of beads, beginning at the top, and winding down to the bottom. Having the string begin and end off the edges of the quilt design seemed appropriate, since where I worked these past 23 years was our church home prior to my working there, and will continue to be into the years ahead. I know full well that many of the connections I've made in that place won't end because of my retirement; and of course, there will be new ones for sure.

For a quilt back, I imitated the strings of bead blocks on the front, supersized of course, using a bold and surprising Painter's Palette in Royalty as the background. I confess I kinda love it!

I quilted with Aurifil 50wt #2600 [light gray] on top, and #4030 [plum] in the bobbin. I simply echoed the lines of the bead edges and the strings, filling between them so lines of stitches did not exceed about three-quarters of an inch. 

A binding of Kona Lighthouse, the primary background color of the front, seemed unobtrusive and fitting, and the quilt finished at 53" x 63". 

It fills good to have this one done! It was a perfect project to work on these past weeks as I've settled into retirement. There are so many connections that have been meaningful over the years, and it's been nice to reflect on them as I worked on this quilt. Plus, I have a new lap quilt that I can enjoy going forward with so many memories stitched into it.

Monday, April 25, 2022


When my daughter Rachel gifted me a copy of Rebecca Ringquist's Embroidery Workshops, I already knew there was a sampler included, all ready to stitch. What I didn't know, was that it was a slightly smaller version of the Pie sampler found in her shop.

Stitched entirely with Wonderfil #8 perle cotton, I tried to keep a more controlled palette than on my last sampler. And though most of the stitches were familiar ones, there was one that was brand new, which is always a treat. It was the Woven Picot, that you can see in the upper right. The crazy thing is, once each 'triangle' is stitched, it is actually loose from the cloth, except for its base. There is an option to tack them down at their tops, which I may end up doing, but for now, I'm enjoying their unique dimension.

The Bullion Knots and Spider Webs in the lower left were not totally new, but I hadn't done them often, so they felt pretty novel. 

The diameter of the design area on the sampler was just 6" in diameter, so some of those center stitches were verrrry tiny. As suggested by Rebecca, I experimented with using one stand and a double strand in different areas. And in that aqua section of couching shown above, I actually laid two double strands across before adding the securing stitches. All in all, it was a fun stitch, and I learned a thing or two. 

I'll move on to Kantha stitching for my evening handwork soon, and hopefully join in the upcoming Yo Yo Rainbow stitch-along in a few weeks. Oh! And I've a quilt binding to sew on! That's always a good thing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Seattle MQG Giving Blocks

Seattle MQG has a long history of making giving quilts, and I very nearly missed out on making blocks for the latest one. Thankfully, I was reminded at our meeting last week and the deadline was extended! Our new Giving Quilts co-chairs, Ann Marchand & Marion Lisko, asked for Sawtooth Stars in solids or prints that read as solids. The stars could have traditional star points or wonky points, either way with an improv center. 8 1/2" unfinished, I confess I enjoyed making these scrappy blocks way more than I expected, and I could have just kept going. All the centers began with pieced scraps from the scrap basket, which added to the fun.

This first 2022 giving quilt will go to Treehouse for Kids – a local program for foster kids. I'm glad I was able to contribute some blocks!

Monday, April 18, 2022

Rounded Drawstring Pouch

I'd had my eye on the Rounded Drawstring Pouch tutorial by Sunny Day Supply for several weeks, so when it was time to whip up a little something-something for my grandgirls for Easter, it seemed perfect timing to give it a try.

Small projects like these are the perfect chance to dig into stash for some cute prints. I totally forgot to get a photo of the bag linings, but trust me, it was fun to coordinate them with the exterior and casing fabrics. And isn't the rounded shape of these bags just the cutest?

The finished bags measured about 7" high by 12" wide, and were a super quick sew.... perfect for squeezing into a busy day plus taking a short breather from the larger work in progress! Thinking I should make a few more just to have on hand.

Friday, April 15, 2022

At the Table

Do you know Chili Crisp? I did not, obviously behind the times, as according to Molly and Matthew in their recent Spilled Milk podcast, chili crisp really became a trend in 2020. Other than just reading about it, my 'formal' introduction was in the form of a newsletter from DeLaurenti Italian market. I was placing an online order, and took the opportunity to add a jar of locally made KariKari to my cart.

I tried the chili crisp - ever so sparingly - on a hard-cooked egg, and it was pretty darn spicy. I loved the crunch though, definitely. As I continued to research, I learned that the standard, as far as chili crisp goes, is Laoganma, widely acclaimed as the original version. So next time I was at the grocery store, I picked up a jar to compare to the KariKari. I had heard that the Laoganma chili crisp wasn't as spicy, and it did have it's own unique flavor. But for me, it was definitely still pretty 'hot.'

According to Better Homes & Gardens, "The condiment is so hot—literally and figuratively—that chili crisp has a cult-like following at this point. That's likely because it's incredibly versatile and is not just burn-your-face-off hot; it's complex and layered with spicy, umami, and tangy flavors."

I'm kind of disappointed that I probably won't be hopping on this trend. I was - and am - really intrigued by it all, and know there are A LOT of versions available, and many recipes to make your own. But so far, it's a little spicy for my taste. 

Here's a little more reading in case you're interested:

So are you a fan? Just hearing about it like me? Share with us in the comments!

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

More Scrappy Beads

So I've been at these scrappy bead blocks for nearly two weeks.... making a string or two or three of improv beads whenever I get a chance. The bead sizes and string lengths have varied on my whim at the moment and the scraps I've used.

I wasn't sure for a while, but they've grown on me, and now I'm working on connecting them into a quilt top. Per comments on Instagram, and my own common quilt-sense, some negative space was definitely in order. The improvisational nature of it all means it's been slow going, with every unique  connection figured out on its own before moving to the next. And of course, not confident I had enough of the background fabric, Kona Lighthouse, I've begun to add in some other grays from stash and scrap. There's the obvious dark one in the upper left corner; but also, a lighter one, Kona Silver, connecting rows four and five, as well as on the ends of those rows. 

I was thinking early on that the final quilt size wouldn't be huge, as I want quilting to be as enjoyable as the piecing.... as little stress as possible, if you get my drift. But in providing the space that it felt like it needed, I'm already at 50" wide. So yeah, it's grown. And yeah, it's a little quirky; but it's serving its purpose, and I'm actually kind of liking it, so all is good. Oh, and I already have an idea for a pieced quilt back that I'm looking forward to piecing, so that's encouraging me along.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

My Very Peri

Ever since we began paying attention to the Pantone Color of the Yearmy daughter, Rachel/@snippetsofsweetness, has ordered us official Pantone Color of the Year swatch cards, so when it came time to find a fabric match for this year's Very Peri, it was the swatch that I consulted.

Here's what I ordered to see in person:

[Note that I also consulted color cards for PBS Fabrics' Painter's Palette Solids and RJR Cotton Supreme Solids, but neither had a color close to a match.]

Once I received the fabric, it was clear right off that the Cotton Couture Periwinkle and AMB Dark Periwinkle weren't matches. So that left three others to consider (left to right below) - Kona Noble Purple, Cotton Couture Crocus, and Kona Amethyst.

So from my viewpoint, Kona Noble Purple is a tad dark; and Kona Amethyst, though close, is a tad too light. But if you're a Kona fan, either would be a reasonable choice. The closest match for me, though, from those I compared, is Cotton Couture Crocus.

A project from these colors is definitely in order, so one of these days! Are you planning a Very Peri project? If so, what fabric or palette will you choose?

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

March Fabric Usage

Sewing time has been limited the last several weeks due to life's ups and downs, so the fabric usage hasn't really been up to par. But I did manage to sew lots of scraps into potholders, and made a mini for the latest Curated Quilts mini challenge - which happened to make the cut for future publication - so there's that.

And then things were finally settling down when I started getting questions about my fabric choice for the Pantone Color of the Year, so I broke down and bought my first fabric of the year - some options for Very Peri. Of course they arrived pronto, so they're included in March's stats. I'll post more about them soon!

Meanwhile, I'll share March's stats, followed by a bit of a dilemma.

March Fabric Usage
Used up: 7.09 yards
Brought in: 4.25 yards 
Net: -2.84 yards
Net Year to date: -17.315 yards

So keeping an eye on the 'year to date' figure always reminds me that I AM making progress. But here's my dilemma.... As a retirement present, my co-workers gifted me with a very generous gift certificate to my favorite online fabric shop! And honestly, part of my original goal with keeping track of fabric usage was to use what I had on hand, definitely; but also, to eventually transform my stash to one of primarily solids rather than primarily prints, as it has been for years. So I anticipate I will use the gift to stock up on solids, as well as curate a small collection of prints and substrates that I currently really enjoy. Soooo. That will obviously affect my stats! So rather than discard my fabric usage record entirely, I think I'll also add the Total Yardage Out figure, which is currently 32.065 yards. OR I could spend the gift certificate and then start fresh. Any thoughts? What a good quandary to have, right?

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Drawing Stitches

Couldn't seem to help it... I stitched another Dropcloth Sampler! This time, it was "Drawing Stitches," and I think of all the samplers I've done so far, I learned the most new-to-me stitches with this one.

There were no less than 31 different stitches, and there was also a Creativebug Daily Challenge based on this sampler. I didn't really follow it day by day, but did refer to it for the stitches I wasn't familiar with.

I especially enjoyed stitching the plaid filling....

and the battlement filling!

And those couched circles were really fun to stitch.

The design area of Drawing Stitches was about 7" x 10", and though my palette was a little uncontrolled, I still really enjoyed it. And as I say every time, I'm sorry it's done! I did see that there's a new Creativebug class coming up with creator Rebecca Ringquist sharing some ideas of what to do with these samplers, so we'll see if I'm inspired to make more of them into something!

Monday, April 4, 2022

Stitch Club Kantha Sew-Along

I thoroughly enjoyed Stitch Club back in 2020, where one of the hand-stitching techniques we learned was Kantha. Then, I 'just' made a pillow, so I'm joining in the Stitch Club 2022 Kantha Sew Along in the hopes of making a Kantha quilt.

So yesterday, I pulled fabric - all #carolynfriedlander prints - for the upcoming Kantha Sew Along, which officially begins April 19. I plan to follow the vertical stripes layout (1 of 3 layouts suggested), and though the sample quilt used 63(!) fabrics, I've managed to gather 45, some generously gifted by @liveacolorfullife (thanks Cindy!).

So, I also need to have a 60" x 84" quilt back pieced before the sew along begins, as the front and back are stitched together right from the start! So I'll be working on that in the days ahead. If you're interested in joining the sew along, or at least reading about it, here's a link to the Kantha Sew Along.

Friday, April 1, 2022


Today marks a monumental day for me. Yesterday, after 39 years in the workforce - as a computer programmer in the aerospace industry, a pastry chef in a local bakery, and the last 23 on staff at a large church in our community, I retired. So today, I guess you can say, is the first day of the rest of my life.

So in thinking about a new prompt for Bee Sewcial, I finally settled on "Horizons" - the line at which the earth's surface and the sky appear to meet. Of course there is another connotation... a range of perception or experience, ie. at a point in one's life like I am experiencing, one expects to "broaden one's horizons." At the very least, one can expect daily life to look a little different.

For color, anything goes! I'm asking my beemates to take the liberty - please! - to use it abstractly. I love the work of digital artist Grant Haffner - the layering and his use of multi-colors. I'm hoping they are as inspired by it as well, as they create their own horizons in fabric.

As for size, I'm asking for one rectangular block in a landscape orientation, approximately 8"-10" tall, which would mean about 30"-40" wide, depending on the block's height.

The 'horizons' shown here are all photos taken by my husband or I from places we've walked, lived, or traveled. I expect the blocks I receive from my mates to include a hint of a real horizon, but one that I've never seen before.... of bright, exciting places I can only dream of.