Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Playing in Knickers

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; 
the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. 
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
~George Bernard Shaw


Ballplayers wear uniforms on the field so it can be hard to differentiate them but I wanted to try. Several recent {and many past} Giants players wear knickers. The top half is the same but I redrafted the legs. The pieces are casually set on the background but don't they look delightfully alive. I love the casual way he's standing but it would require appliqué and I'm piecing this. 

Baseball player in knickers

Here's a right-handed baseball player in knickers. Pieced and ready to go.

Baseball player in knickers sewn

This is so much fun! What else can I do with nine men out?

It is so hot. We had a couple of weeks of rain but now it's terribly hot and dry. The weeds grow but the plants we purchased wilt if they aren't watered daily. Watering and weeding takes lots of time so I haven't been quilting as much. We are having salads and iced drinks every meal to keep the heat out of the house.


M.C. Beaton (aka Marion Chesney) is another writer I've enjoyed in the past but haven't kept current. With so much time on my hands, I'm restarting the Hamish Macbeth series with Death of a Gossip. which concerns the death of an extremely unpleasant woman during a week of salmon fishing  classes in Scotland.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Starting Another Baseball Quilt

The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall.
~Vince Lombardi


Rarely has my dear husband (DH) been as excited about a quilt as he was about the Phillies baseball quilt I made a few years ago. He insisted it had to have decals on it. I demurred but he ordered them anyway. One was not enough. He purchased four. And... he purchased several Giants decals, too, then looked at me with his sweet blue eyes. Because, of course, he'd love a Giants quilt. 

And I love him. I intended to make it immediately after the Phillies quilt but family emergencies intervened. So I bundled a collection of fabric and set it aside. Now is the time to get this one done. Except, the templates can't be found. 

Looking at the first quilt, I was sure it could be improved. Here's my first baseball player, a right-hander. The socks are gone; his trousers reach his shoes. His legs are shorter; still longer than his torso but the block is now square. 

RHP baseball player

And here's the second one. Including skin tones of all the players required different greens for the background. A couple of days were spent moving the fabrics around until everyone shows up reasonably well. 

Learning from my first foray, the caps and shoes the same color. Teams have limited colors and it's a faux pas to use any others. When caps are a different color than the shoes, one of them tends to fade into the {future} sashing.

Stay tuned for more players. 

Our lilies are blooming. The first is as bright an orange as Giants shirts but I've forgotten what type it is.


The Crowded Grave
is my next book in Martin Walker's Bruno series. As Bruno is drawn into preparations for a summit between France and Spain, archeologists looking for Neanderthals instead turns up a skeleton with a Swatch. Martin’s love of this region is evident in every page and makes me wish I could visit for a year or two also.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Last Blue Squares

I will continue to entertain the hope that there has emerged a cadre of leaders in my own country and region, on my continent and in the world, which will not allow that any should be denied their freedom as we were; that any should be turned into refugees as we were; that any should be condemned to go hungry as we were; that any should be stripped of their human dignity as we were.
~Nelson Mandela


Of course, once I started cutting these scraps of blue and green and lavender, there were many more than expected. I thought about using them as part of a larger quilt since they would make a good border or a round of a medallion. But what is needed around here are baby quilts and lap quilts. So here's another Cross quilt. {I did have to dig around for five more background squares to fill out this quilt but that's all to the good since the point is to use them up.}

Cross quilt 3

This time I pulled a delightful yard of bees sparsely printed on chartreuse. It reminds me of Napoleon. A yard is never enough to create a back so I added the remnants of an octagonal print used here {Hey, it was in the scrap bag} and some odds and ends for a center post. And look. It's an improvised reprise of the Cross blocks on the front.

Cross quilt 3 back

The blue flowers were a wonderful back for the previous quilts but this one is just as charming to me.

Cross quilt 3 folded

And wouldn't you know, it's already in the mail. They never stay around long.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42" x 42"
Design: Plus block
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann blue cotton thread
Quilting: SID with walking foot 
Approximate yardage: 3.75 yds 

Previous posts:


Lots of rain recently but we had a four-day break so I've been busy in the backyard weeding. Many of the original plants are Texas area natives but this one is aggressively taking over the borders. It's taken several days but I've taken out all but two small clumps... and my eye is on those.

I've forgotten what is is - dayflower or spiderwort. The blue flowers bloom one day only and close in the afternoon heat. Then it puts on another kudzu-like growth spurt.


When books aren't available online at my library, they suggest others. That's how the Scumble River series by Denise Swanson came to my attention. Murder of a Small-Town Honey begins with Skye Denison's return to her small Illinois hometown as a school psychologist. She was fired from her previous job for insubordination or refusing to ignore her standards, take your pick. Then a relative dies in suspicious circumstances and her brother is implicated. I'm looking forward to folding this series into with the others I'm following.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Pair of Cross Baby Quilts in Blue

Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I'm taking with me when I go.
~Erma Bombeck


I spend a lot of time using up my scraps. My small scrap bag is the first place I go when making blocks. I almost have to force myself to get into the stash. This past year I made a determined effort to draw down the boxes and now have five large shallow ones left: three for quilting fabric, one for clothing fabric, and one for UFOs. Although I strongly denied having any, quite a few were unearthed during our Swedish death cleaning. My quilting group and I have been laughing that we will be buried with our fabric if we don't get busy and use it up. We haven't decided whether it will piled on a Viking ship and lit up or wound around our bodies like the Egyptians. And perhaps my family will sprinkle some of my spices between the layers.

Anyway... using stash fabric means the scrap bag filled up again. Back to my old habit of starting with that stuff. And I need to because lots of friends are still having babies since DH works with many young people. I pulled all the blues, greens, and purples. There were a few black and white prints also but most of those came from Nann and were already cut this width. 

Cross quilt 1

I admired the many plus blocks on the internet but didn't want to copy any exactly. These off-center crosses produced more ways to arrange the blocks. This one creates a plaid effect. What fun to move the blocks around, deciding whether to group similar colors or scatter them across the surface. 

Front and back of Cross quilt 1

The back is a large-scale blue flower print that I found on sale somewhere. I purchased three yards but forget what it was planned for.

Cross quilt 1 folded

I love these photos of the quilts folded up. Such a good way to see both sides and the binding, too.

Cross quilt 2

There were so many blocks as well as that extra backing that I had enough to make two almost identical quilts. I divided the duplicate blocks into different piles then added singletons until there were forty-nine for each quilt.

Front and back of Cross quilt 2

They are very simply quilted SID along the block boundaries and the crosses. I considered more quilting but this is enough. Much less than I usually do, though.

Cross quilt 2 folded

As usual, I thought these would restart my baby quilt stack and, as usual,  one was called for almost immediately. Lucky me. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42" x 42"
Design: Plus block
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann blue cotton thread
Quilting: SID with walking foot 
Approximate yardage: 3.75 yds each


Jacqueline Winspear's latest Maisie Dobbs is available and I couldn't wait to read it. While The Consequences of Fear covers the latter half of 1941, it explores the effects of fear on the characters. Fear from their past as well as the future. An excellent continuation of the series.

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

Four quilts finished this month. Shadow Star is my largest quilt to date and has taken several years. I'm delighted it's done and on the bed. Yardage used doesn't count for me until the quilts are quilted and bound. May = 35.5 yds. YTD =  78.125 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

And Now to Use the Blue and Green Squares

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less.
~Rick Warren


With a new set of cool colors, mainly blues and soft greens but also a few lavenders, it's time for a new block idea, too. Many versions of plus blocks caught my eye online last year so I decided to make my own version. Lucky for me, Nann sent me a surprise package of black, white and grey strips cut 1.5" wide when she gifted me a spare copy of Donald Hall's essays. And we're off.

Cutting the six-inch bases crosswise in both directions at 2.25" create an off-centered plus {or maybe the beginning of a plaid.} I enjoyed finding black, white or grey strips to fill in. And there were a few red squares set aside for a long-forgotten project that became the posts. 

Off-centered plus blocks

Here's the layout of the first set of blocks.  Their wonky lineup looks great but unfortunately they will "straighten up" when sewn. 

Plus block arrangement for a baby quilt


A Promised Land
, Barack Obama's latest book, explores his thoughts and post-presidential life.  It's the first of a planned trilogy and covers his first run for state office through the bin Laden raid.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

That's it for the Red and Yellow Squares

For what it's worth... it's never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. 
There's no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you've never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you're not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.
~F. Scott Fitzgerald


These are the last of the red and yellow six-inch squares. They were cut {and carefully stored} so long ago that I can't remember the reason. So Sujata's freehand hourglass block from Cultural Fusion Quilts seemed like a great way to quickly use them up... and again attempt to rebuild a stash of baby quilts. 

My old rotary cutter no longer holds the blade firmly. The nut and bolt unscrew with each swipe. It's time to purchase a new one. Meanwhile my pair of very sharp Kai scissors works well to cut the diagonal lines. {Of course, the blocks are squared up later with the rotary tools.}

With my usual insouciance I cut all of them before determining how many were really needed. And there were way too many for the first toddler quilt. In fact, there's enough for seconds but I'm ready for a new layout. This time all the hourglasses point the same direction.

Did I mention I started putting slabs in scrap bag in addition to strings? That's where the oranges came from as well as the remnants from last year's aloha shirt. Not sure how I like that but at least they were available despite being the "wrong" size when I started. And I didn't have to find yet another bag or box to store them.

The shading between orange and red isn't great but I love the way the orange foreground blends into the yellow background. There's always something fun to discover working with scraps. 

Since the blocks were sewn a couple of weeks ago, sewing the top went much faster but it needed a border. I drove myself nuts pulling out almost every blue in the stash.  These...

and these.

I wanted to like the carrots because of the bits of orange. You can see I laid the horizontally and vertically but neither seemed to work. And I love the blue and black plaid but it clashes with the stripe that will be the binding. {It's too good an opportunity to pass up using it to bind and that's where the idea for a blue border came.}

Eventually and oddly I chose the darkest blue. It's almost a reproduction wide stripe. Not sure why it works but it does.

The finished quilt bound and ready. 

Improv Hourglass toddler quilt in red and yellow

The orange fabric was purchased for a different quilt that has yet to be started so I'm using it here. Of course, there wasn't quite enough for the back so a few remaining hourglasses and border strips fill in.

Back of Improv Hourglass quilt

The binding looks great. I love striped binding and frequently purchase random stripes that then molder in my stash. What joy to realize this one works so well with the blocks.

Detail of Improv Hourglass quilt

A final view of the front and back of the quilt.

Folded Improv Hourglass quilt

It's now in the quilt stash waiting for an older sibling who needs some attention. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 57" x 57"
Design: Improv Hourglass
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann multi-yellow cotton thread
Quilting: Walking foot parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 6 yds


I've been eagerly waiting to read the second of Becky Chambers' Wayfarer's series. A Closed and Common Orbit picks up with the transfer of AI system Lovelace to a human-looking body. Pepper, a human who escaped from a factory where  genetically engineered girls recycle trash, invites her to her home and tries to help her fit into this new reality. The novel explores sentience, autonomy, and purpose. 

I've learned the hard way to space out reading new series. Reading them back-to-back usually results in burnout. Now I'm counting the days till the next one. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Shadow Stars Quilted and Bound

The wise response to intolerance is not more intolerance or self-righteousness; it is a coming together across the ideological spectrum of people who want to make democracies more effective. 
We should remember that the heroes we cherish 
- Lincoln, King, Gandhi, Mandela - spoke to the best within us.
~Madeleine Albright


A few years ago it seemed time to make something with a white background for our summer bed. I recalled the Shadow Star quilt my great-aunt made and found the newspaper clipping my cousin sent. The first step was to redraft the pattern, an eight-pointed star variation. Next I wanted a border even though the original had none.  It took several years to get everything together and I wisely sent it to Peg Collins for quilting. 

She completed just it and mailed it back!

Shadow Star quilt

Peg free-motion quilted everything. The border quilting is simple but...
Vase detail on Shadow Star quilt

she went to town on the center. Each star, indeed, each point has its own design.  Lots of swirls...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and spirals...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and circles...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and blades...

and feathers. Even some arrows.  Peg's free-flowing designs move across the white, helping the star points and the background blend even more. That was always my favorite part of this design and I think it's why I remember it all these years later. 

The back is an extra-wide blue and white print. 

Despite being a traditional border, it updates this quilt tremendously. The stripes are "hand-drawn" in several shades of blue on white. There was nothing in my stash that worked so I purchased yardage online which wasn't the right shade. Then I found this. Online, too. Gathering my courage, I bought it. Success.

My dear friend, Gayle, gifted me a yard of her green fabric which gave me enough clear but quiet green for the leaves. The stems are a plaid cut on the bias. And the charming vases are fussy cut from to show off the rabbits. {Unfortunately there wasn't room for the ears. 

This angled view gives me an idea of how it will look on the bed. {But we are still awaiting the bed frames which need repairs after the movers tossed them around.}

Quilt Specifics
Size: 112" x 112"
Design: Shadow Star with Vessel, Vine, and Floral border
Batting: cotton
Thread: white polyester thread
Quilting: FMQ by Peg Collins
Approximate yardage: 22 yds

Previous posts:

Perhaps this blog should be renamed Shadow Stars since they have been the subject of so many, many posts. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Improv Hourglass Quilted

Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, 
and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.
~Charles Bukowski


Inner borders benefit from SID (stitch-in-the-ditch) to keep them straight and that's what I did first here. But what to do next? The improvisationally cut hourglasses don't lend themselves to diagonal stitching although straight lines could run vertically. That's one of my default quilting designs. 

Then I recalled the quilting design on kawandis. It's a simple squared-off spiral from the outside in. And usually hand quilted. Starting at the outside meant the back needed to be carefully basted because there's no way to smooth bumps out as quilting progresses. And yes, there was extra at times. Fortunately, those fit between the rounds. Since no stitching crossed any other, there were no pleats.

The inner border was filled with free motion loops in dark brown and the outer border returned to the squared-off spirals. Feathers and Baptist fans didn't seem like they would show against the strong fan pattern of the print.   

The back started with a yard of an alphabet print purchased {a couple of years ago} for use on a baby quilt. It's enlarged with a tone-on-tone beige and a tiny green remnant. That green was wider but part was trimmed once the quilt was finished.

The binding is a wonderful multi-color stripe that looks hand painted. It has every color in the quilt: red, yellow, white, brown, and green.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 52" x 52"
Design: Improv Hourglass
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Superior brown and Gutermann multi-yellow cotton thread
Quilting: Walking foot spiraling squares and FMQ loops
Approximate yardage: 5.75 yds

Previous post: Improvising the scraps

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

Two quilts finished this month. Most excited that the Wheel quilt is finally a finish and it looks beautiful. Plus this small one has gone to a new baby. March = 24.75 yds. YTD =  42.625 yards.


Somehow I quit reading Clare O'Donohue's Someday Quilts mysteries but I'm making up for lost time. This week I finished The Devil's Puzzle where a skeleton is uncovered in Eleanor's backyard. It's been buried for thirty to forty years so there's not much chance of discovering who it is or who murdered him. There are only two more books in this series and I hope to finish it by year end.  

EDIT: Clare was a producer for Alex Anderson on Simply Quilts.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Improvising My Scraps

Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; 
rather, it means never losing awareness that we are connected to each other.
~Parker Palmer


Cleaning out every corner of my house has been a salutary lesson. For some reason there are stacks of squares neatly packaged in different shoe boxes. Six-inch, 5.5", 2.5", and 2". Who knows why now. And why in the world are these blocks half an inch different in size? I tried to simply toss the larger ones into the scrap bag but instead pulled out chunks from the bag and cut them into six-inch blocks to make Hatchet blocks. 

There were so many that I sorted them by color later... after they were cut. Sigh. When I tired of Hatchets I switched to this improv hourglass blocks from Cultural Fusion Quilts. Generally these fabrics run analogously from red to orange to yellow although many of these yellows look more like cheddar.  

Here they are laid on the rug. A bit too small and there is not enough red or yellow yardage for a border. Then this cheddar-orange from my stash and the dark brownish-black from the scrap bag magically called. {I think I like putting these larger pieces in the bag. Finding them inspires different designs than strings do.} 

Improv hourglass blocks 

Four red blocks could create simple border corners but there were still some squares of yellow left, too.  Here's the top sewn.  And yes, I know one block is sideways. It will stay that way.

Improv hourglass quilt top

That strong border shows off the blocks beautifully. It's not fall here but the colors certainly reflect autumn. Next week I'll quilt it... as soon as I figure out the back.

After the freeze, most of our plants died back. I trimmed the ferns and hostas to the ground and am watching them sprout new growth. Most of the jasmine leafed out but some hedges may need to be replaced. I planted all my pots with flowers or ferns and am on a mission to get the ground cover going between the flagstones so hopefully weeding won't be a daily activity in a few years.  We still need the landscapers to grind a tree stump and replant. Privacy and shade are goals, too.


The Baby Ganesh Detective Agency series by Vaseem Khan delightfully draws us into Mumbai and its varied districts. In this first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, the poor mother of a drowned boy challenges the police to discover what happened but Chopra's superiors don't want the death investigated and it's his last day of work. Then  his uncle sends him a gift of a baby elephant who is "not what he seems." Well written, engaging, and fun to read about another part of our world. It reminds me of The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Wheel Quilt Bound and Labelled

Make a list of things that make you happy. Make a list of things you do every day.
Compare the lists. Adjust accordingly.


This quilt began over four years ago as an experiment with a wedge ruler. Instead of starting within the limits of the ruler, I immediately extended the perimeter with less than stellar results... then set it aside. Two years later it resurfaced in a clean-and-sort of the boxes and the soft colors called to me. {It was hard to find a place to photograph and I finally took an angled view and adjusted it on my phone. The wheels are circular, not oval as they appear here.}

Wheel quilt

What fun it's been to work on this quiet and limited palette, to rework the fans into blocks that lie flat, to take time with each step. I find iterative processes meditative and this quilt in particular is the repository of diverse family memories - the joyful and sad markers of time.

Wheel quilt detail with netted crab fabric

My stash only held a few quiet creams suitable for setting the fans and {of course} none had sufficient yardage to make all of them. The fisher-girl fabric delights me. It's a personal nod to our dear sister and always brings a smile. 

Detail of fisher-girl on Wheel quilt

The red and white striped fabric has been set aside for sashing since the first day but with the fan blocks  complete, it took a while to determine how much to use - both width of the sashing and frequency. Eventually, alternating it with a quieter taupe created a better rhythm.

Wheel quilt detail including cracking crabs fabric

The red and white fabrics of the wheels alternate between tastefully lyric florals and three crab novelty prints. I pulled everything in that colorway and was amused to find them. {And there weren't enough florals anyway. Of course.}

Wheel quilt detail with knitting crabs fabric

Many quilts use snowballs as central blocks and alternate blocks. I've done it myself but I hadn't made a border of them. They seemed like the perfect reprise of wheels - smaller and less distinct - but still repeating a circular theme. Of course, it took me many iterations to quieten down my fabric choices. The soft center can easily be overpowered.

Wheel quilt border detail and wheel with abstract circle fabric

What an excellent decision to send the top to Peg Collins for long arm quilting! I knew every stitch and design would show on all the light backgrounds and wanted something more exciting than my normal quilting. Her work is amazing.

Wheel quilt detail

The final steps were to trim the edges, bind, and label. A search through my dwindling stash brought two diagonal stripes. {The sashing stripe is gone. Of course.} The red-and white is narrower than the sashing. From a distance it looks pink.

Testing a red and white stripe binding

The green, blue, and red stripe unexpectedly excited me {next to the border} until Gayle gently nudged me to something that doesn't compete with the sashing or the wheels. 

Testing a multicolor binding

A quiet green enhances the quilt. In fact, it is the cutoffs from the backing fabric. Perfect.

Wheel quilt with detail of back and binding

My quilts are rarely labelled. My mother used to write them if I needed one for a show. Some of them are fading from washing even though I use special soap and archival pens. Penwork on the ones I've gifted disappear quickly. {I see that when visiting.} Now I simply sign the bottom right corner like a painter.  I usually use thread that matches the top. You have to look hard to see it. But it shows more on the back so archivists will find it. That's my story.

Wheel quilt signature

Quilt Specifics
Size: 86"x108"
Design: Fans and Snowballs
Batting: cotton
Thread: white polyester
Quilting: FMQ by Peg Collins
Approximate yardage: 19 yd {with leftovers for the scrap bag}

Previous posts:
1. The first block - way back in 2018


The Doctors Blackwell by Janice Nimura is a biography of Elizabeth, the first female M.D. in America, and Emily, her younger sister and the better physician. Together they founded the New York Hospital for Indigent Women and Children. Although they were contemporaries of many suffragists (and Lucy Stone Married one of their brothers} they didn't support universal suffrage, believing education was more important. Elizabeth was also the first, and for many years the only, woman physician listed in England. 

Enjoy the day, Ann