Popsicles in My Way

All Popsicles in My Way

This morning, I drove the car down to our local park, walked one mile with my husband by my side, and drove home.  Not a big deal for most people, but it was the first time I’d driven a round trip and walked that far in one swoop since the surgery nearly five weeks ago.  Maybe all the post-surgery obstacles are now, after five weeks, becoming more like popsicles: little humps of fun to celebrate with song and a leap into the old swimming hole.

Mary's Blocks for August 2015

So even though this feels like a lost summer, this past week I had another first: I operated my sewing machine, sewing up the Bee blocks for Mary’s turn at bat.  And the world didn’t end. Tutorial is *here* or you can find it on the tab above under Tutorials, where I keep links to all of the tutorials on this blog.

Granite Flats

We’ve watched nearly all three seasons of Granite Flats (only 2 more episodes to go) and I’m continually amazed at how much freedom children in the sixties were given to roam around on their bikes and get into scrapes and generally explore.  While it can be at times cheesy, it’s a fun show that has allowed me to sit and stitch, fully entertained.

Rainbow Kaffe laid out

Earlier I was able, over the course of several days, to put this together on my pin wall, then went to bed for nearly two days to recover, paying for my creative burst of energy.  During recovery I was confining my sewing to handwork, and was hoping to get this stitched up for the Kaffe Mini Swap I’m in, but I saw the writing on the wall, and switched to a different project that involved the sewing machine.

Kaffe, Two

I was able to put this one on the wall (only took two days this time), and will now tweak it and stitch it together and quilt it–all tasks that will probably take me oodles longer than usual.   (Working title: Kaffe’s Rainbow Block.)  But that is the good news!  That I am actually quilting, working with the cloth, however slowly, and participating once again.

The Road Not Taken Book

And to further prove that I’m into Popsicle Territory, I have started reading a book, a task unthinkable two weeks ago with my fuzzed-out brain cells.  David Orr’s book is a fascinating look at Robert Frost’s well-known poem, and while I find myself arguing with Orr’s analysis every once in a while, he wins me over as he progresses, teaching me about Frost, perception, decision making and the “deciders.”

Little steps, but definitely progress.


Summer’s Hot and the Recuperating is Easy

Hot Summer 104Let’s start with the first item: summer’s hot, and yessiree it is.  Tomorrow is supposed to be 108.  This is a good time to stay inside and keep getting better, which leads us to the second item: recovery.

Recovering Activities

Here are some of my recovery activities, omitting the one I do most: lay on the bed.  I finished up my Rosette #3 in periwinkles, blue and purples (below) and started putting Rosette #4 together.  The photo in the upper left took about a week to do, in twenty minute intervals off the pillow.  I continued sewing up little felt creations from kits I’d picked up at quilt shows (why do I buy these?) and thought I’d finished them all.  However, I found another batch in the closet yesterday.  My husband took me for a Big Day Out to Cinnabon, and I could only eat half of a mini, a side-effect of surgery.  Nightly I would I arrange my applesauce and spoon for the 3 a.m. pain meds routine, which I am happy to say, as of today, has been phased out.  However, I am still in my nightgown, so be sure to call first before showing up on my doorstep.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time stitching while watching movies, because I am always tired and because apparently I had a serious case of Bonzo-Brain (from the effects of the anesthesia and pain killers).  I found this out because my son told me I was “a lot more coherent than last time we talked.”  And my husband says “you’re more alert now.”  And my mother says “you are sounding so much better today.”  Good to know that I have people who love me and will humor me when I am functioning at toddler level.

Rosette #3 photo

Rosette 4 center sewn

Here’s the center of Rosette #4, all sewn up.  It may take me another week to get the next round, at the rate I’m going.

Chuck Nohara examples

Because I now also apparently function at teenager level with my phone in my hand while I lie in bed (tablets are too big and a laptop is way out of the question), I discovered the Chuck Nohara Instagram group and fell in love with these amazing little six-inch appliqué blocks.

Chuck Nohara book

Which led to the QuiltMania website and the purchase of this book, which may or may not have had the most expensive postage I’ve ever encountered in my life.  Even accounting for the lack of critical thinking during the Bonzo-Brain state, I was pretty freaked out.

Chuck Nohara book in transitWhich has led to my obsessive compulsion with tracking the dumb thing.  That book is going way more interesting places than the Cinnabon shop at the mall.  (Attention FED EX: For the record,  I live in California.  Why is it stopping in Memphis?)

pajama party retro

But there are two things that have gotten me through these past few weeks. The first and foremost has been my amazing husband, always asking me if he can do something for me, putting lotion on my toes and pulling up the covers for me in the middle of the night (because I can’t reach either of them).  He has cooked for me, done the wash, brought in the mail, fixed me fresh orange juice every morning and taken me to the doctor appointments.  He listens to me when I cry, reminding me that I will be in recovery for 6-8 weeks and it’s only nearing the end of week three and would I like to get out and take a drive?  And we do and I stop crying and take a deep breath at how beautiful the world is, even if the temperatures are soaring.

Then I go and lay on the bed, my phone in my hand and read about you all on blogs and IG, distracting me in a lovely way from this work I am doing at getting better.  This is the other thing that has gotten me through: my family, friends, and the sweet messages of hope and encouragement and inspiration from you, just like we were all girlfriends hanging out together in our jammies, drinking root beer and playing records and the ukulele.  I am always amazed at how much we have come to know each other through correspondence and sharing activities, as well as quilting together.

Thank you all, so very much.  You kind attentions have made my tough summer a bit more easy.



Disruption in the Quilting Force

NursesAll the nice nurses lined up to greet me

Last week I walked into our local hospital and two days later, was wheeled out in one of my new nightgowns, a vase of flowers on my lap while the two volunteer interns pushing my wheelchair commented to each other about the weather, the construction at the hospital, and about another volunteer that was not a favorite.  It was the first time I’d been outside since the surgery to rearrange my clockworks and I was thinking about the sunlight, the slight breeze and whether or not my husband would back into the construction truck which had parked so strangely in his path.  It was surreal.  When I walked in, the possibility of the Big C was dangling over my head and I’m happy to say that the initial reports are that this diagnosis was carried away in the sunny breezes of that hot morning.

Aside from a brief mention of the process in this post, I’ve kept this pretty quiet as I lurched all summer from doctor’s appointment to scan to oncologist to OB-GYN’s office, not trusting the emotion, not knowing where the path would lead.

I had intended to keep it quiet still, as we here in QuiltLand tend to prefer our blog posts to be bursting with sunshine, little blue birds, some snippets of song, and fabric fabric fabric.  However, when I realized that the recovery was going to be loooong, I might need to explain my absence.

I’ve recovered enough to now sit at the computer for whole stretches of minutes, but do most of my reading in bed with my tablet.  I thought I’d share one or two interesting bits from QuiltLand that I thought you might enjoy.  Stephanie Ruyle’s latest blog post, where she shows her magnificent quilt, Ember, is a great description of using up scraps, making them into art (no photos of this one–go over to see it).

knotted cotton_detail

We also had our recent Four-in-Art Reveal and while I loved all of the offerings this time, Catherine’s choice of poem, Mrs. Midas, and her resultant art quilt are a magnificent pairing. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling a bit imprisoned by convalescence that I related to what Mrs. Midas was saying.  I also liked the speech on quilting, given by a sitting criminal court judge in Canada.  He writes amusingly about his wife’s passion of quilting; although long, it’s worth a read.

My minutes are up, so it’s time to go.  On the positive side, my husband says I’m more alert now than when I walked in last week, woozy from anesthesia and painkillers.  I am hoping for incremental progress every day, knowing that the average recovery for this type of surgery is 6-8 weeks.  On the negative side, I’ll cry (more) if I can’t get back to the quilting, but never fear!  I’ve been able to pick up the hand sewing, so at least the hexies are coming together bit by bit.  I hope that whatever summer fun you are doing, you’ll let me know–I can live vicariously though you all at this time.  I may not have the stamina to write back immediately, but I will certainly read everything, and appreciate whatever you share.


The Woods Run Mad With Riot: A Four-in-Art Quilt

4-in-art_3Mad With Riot_frontlabeled

The Woods Run Mad With Riot
A Four-in-Art Quilt, August 2015
#3 in the Literature Series

As always, my exploration of a subject in this series starts with the literature, and the poem I had originally chosen just wasn’t cutting it.  It didn’t evoke that hot, slightly wild feeling that day after day of hot weather can produce, when even Mother Nature seems slightly out of control, patting her damp forehead with a handkerchief, swooning slightly at how overcome her gardens are, the tempo and volume of the cicadas and crickets and birds, and wondering if she’ll last out the heat.  THAT kind of evocative.

So I went hunting and found a new poem that did the trick:

Summer in the South

And how in heaven’s name could I pass up a poem that had such a great closing line: “the woods run mad with riot”?  So that became the title of this piece — immediately — and I tried to figure out how to express this in fabric.  While I normally do a deconstruction post after my reveal post, I’m combining them into one this time.


The trees in the background would have to be slightly oppressive, the sky colors clear, not soft or muddy, and when I found this great paisley fabric in gold, things just started to gel, as I thought it looked like a field crisping up, the tractor marks a design in the tall wheat fields.  Or whatever fields.  The poem has a line about shoots being “yellow-green” and there’s something about water, so here we go.  I used SoftFuse Premium this time, my new go-to fusible for fabric.  I pressed the paper-backed fusible to the back of the fabric, let it cool, then free-form cut the shapes, remembering to work backwards visually, so it would come out correctly after I peeled off the paper.  (Note: In other quilts, I have peeled off the backing and cut what I needed freehand, without using the paper for drawing. Here are some tips for using SoftFuse Premium from Marti Michell’s blog.)


I thought about borderie-perse, that method of appliqué that has always seemed to me to be rich and visually saturated, and since this poem is leading me onward, I turned to this technique, cutting around blossoms and wads of flowers and slipping them into place to build up my scene.  The SoftFuse is slightly tacky on the back, sort of like a Post-it note, so I can stick it down and it won’t move, yet I can reposition it when I need to.


I know that I will be adding log-cabin-type strips to the edges; here I’m auditioning colors.


I sewed the strips on the edge, then auditioned threads for quilting.  I’d picked up quite a few Magnifico spools from Superior Threads, a mid-weight poly thread with a lovely sheen and I just have to say I love this thread.  I use Bottom Line in the bobbin, lower my thread tension by half (from the 4.2 range to the 1.9 range) and it all quilts up beautifully.  I stitch around all the flowers, put a bit of quilting in the stream and field, and quilted around the clouds.


Time to trim.

Three of Four

Here it is with the other two, already done.  I can already see that the last piece is going to need to be bold as well.  And I may have to rework Winter a little bit.  Hmmm. . . not while it is so sweltering hot.  I need to just sit on my porch, letting the afternoon breezes cool this place down, sipping something cold and icy and refreshing, while fanning myself with a wide-bladed palm leaf fan, swooning a bit.  It’s that kind of a hot summer!

Mad With Riot_back

Mad with Riot_label

Tiny Nine-Patch

About Us: We live all over the world, from Scotland and Australia to the continental United States.  Our blog is *here.*  Please visit the other members of our Four-in-Art Group and see their Literature Art Quilts:

Betty at a Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com
Catherine  at Knotted Cotton
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Simone at Quiltalicious
Susan at PatchworknPlay
Tiny Nine-PatchNext reveal date — the final in our Literature series — is November 1st.