Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 is a Wrap

It's time for the annual 2013 project review. Looking at these finishes, I'll admit to feeling a little disappointed that I didn't complete more, especially the UFOs that remain on my "On the Horizon" list (a tab at the top).

By my calculations, breast cancer and peripheral vascular disease stole about ten weeks from my life. So, I'll blame my reduced productivity on those two physical challenges, and pray that 2014 is a much healthier year.

Here's a collage of the 11 quilts I completed. My favorite is Bloom - the middle bottom photo. I'm pretty happy with the hexagon quilts too. I'm officially hooked on hexies!

These are some of the other creations that came from my sewing room - pillows, bowl buddies, bags and totes, thread catchers, a table runner, an apron, an engineer cap, and ticker tape canvases. Two skirts and a dress aren't included in the collage.

So, perhaps not too shameful after all, considering...

I'm optimistic about 2014 since I already know some really good things lie ahead - the birth of a grandson; teaching beginner quiltmaking, and free motion quilting; giving presentations about modern quilting (if you're local, check my "Schedule" tab above); several articles in print in American Quilter magazine; and (hopefully) house guests, with all of them being first-time visitors.

Health wise, I definitely expect 2014 to be a better year. With God beside me, I'll trust and handle whatever might lie ahead. Praying for all good things for you, and me! Blessings on us, every one.

Happy New Year! Linda

Monday, December 30, 2013


This blog has been quiet because I was away from home for nine days. We drove to Austin, Texas, to spend Christmas with our two children, their spouses, and our four grandchildren.
Daughter, her three children, and our son's son. The boys are 3, 3-1/2, and 4 years old.
All four grandies
Our son's Austin
On Christmas eve, just before going to church.
When we travel by car, I try to make that time productive. Besides listening to two audiobooks - "Bad Monkey" by Carl Hiaasen, and "Private Berlin" by James Patterson (picks for hubby) - I stitched for about 30 hours of the 36-hour drive-time. This is 24-count canvas, so it wasn't easy to count. Unstitching happened several times. But, I made progress, and it's looking pretty good. I probably won't touch it again until the next road trip.

While away, I missed my sewing room. Since returning home this afternoon, unpacking, and going to the grocery, I squeezed in a couple hours of quilting time. The Riley Blake Challenge deadline looms!

Tuesday morning I'm happily returning to a line dance class, hoping the exercise will help heal my left leg which has been causing considerable discomfort since the December 13 catheterization. I've definitely got a case of "the cure (having the eight inch-long stent put in my left thigh) being worse than the disease!" Prior to having the 100 percent arterial blockage unblocked, I never had this kind of pain! Go figure. Now I'm hoping next Monday's catheterization of my right leg doesn't cause the same kind of long term discomfort.

If it does, you'll recognize me as the one who's hobbling everywhere. Linda

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter is Here; Christmas is Coming

This was the front page of Saturday's newspaper. The article goes on to elaborate about residents who "don't miss days of shoveling snow." Ahh. It's so good to live here. In case you can't read the small print in the top left corner, today's high is 83 F (28 C).

Last evening, at a church holiday gathering, we sang Christmas carols. Loved that! When it came to the song, Let it Snow, the refrain ended a little differently...

"Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...  up north!"

By all accounts, our weather people are telling us that's exactly what's happening "up north!"

I'm not accustomed to making holiday preparations in warm weather, though. Earlier in the week I spent several warm hours baking, and on Friday we started and finished Christmas shopping! How easy it is to walk in and out of stores in gorgeous weather.

Admittedly, it's been difficult to get into the spirit when much of this month has been full of medical concerns. My arterial problems, all above the knees, is now officially diagnosed as "severe peripheral vascular disease," and is definitely a genetic condition. Just this week I was told, "You're a bit of a fluke." Samples of my blood are now going through special lab testing checking for the presence of the APO-A1 gene. Apparently that will determine the kind of drug treatment I'll receive to lessen the problem of plaque build-up.

Anyway, I didn't get any decorating done this year except to have Dan put out this yard sign. It does say it all.

I am grateful for the gift of Jesus. And for many other blessings... out-of-the-blue, best friend Carla sent me this cute burlap mini pennant, along with a lovely card that nearly brought me to tears. Carla, you're such a thoughtful friend! I love looking at the pennant above the door of my sewing room.

Outdoors, we're enjoying a colorful burst of growth as the two Hawaiian Ty plants on either side of the front door have put on this show.

And in the sewing room, if my legs aren't aching too much (from having the stent put in my thigh, or the soreness of calf muscles unaccustomed to blood flow), I've been quilting at my Pfaff. Here's slow progress on my Riley Blake challenge.

I'm being smart about marking this time (as compared to when I quilted Bloom), using a wash-out marking pen instead of a Frixion pen. I'm definitely Frixion pen-shy, after that experience!

Each increasingly large round of hand appliqu├ęd circles is getting a different quilting design. It will be after Christmas until I'll get to quilting the negative space. 

But post-Christmas, I'd better get crackin'! This yet-to-be-named quilt has to be finished by January 6 because that's the date of having my right leg catheterization (75 percent blocked) that will put me out of commission for about a week. Since our Central Florida MQG Riley Blake reveal is January 13, I don't have a moment of quilting time to waste.

January 6 also happens to be the date I become a Nana for the fifth time, to our fourth baby boy.

While we're still in the month of December, here's a wish from me to you... that you have a blessed Christmas spent with those you love,

and that the love of Jesus, Father-God, and the Holy Spirit be alive and strong in your heart.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Color is Back!

My friend Carla's blog post about making her Suzy's Sack, prompted me to get mine sewn too.  I love it!

Though we're both experienced sewists, each of us had problems understanding the pattern instructions. It was especially difficult to follow how to sew the handle to the bag. I first sewed it on incorrectly.

While I understand how easy it is for a designer to know what she means, and not necessarily be adept at expressing it, it's critical to have someone else review instructions. Even better, have pattern testers.

Next time I make a Suzy's Sack, I'll follow my own written notes for putting it together more quickly.

Still, Suzy's Sack is a great design, and it turned out cute. Of course, I had to change mine up a bit and use a third fabric for the lining. This "blah" fabric is one of my favorites for bag lining because it's a light color - critical for finding stuff inside a bag - and it just makes me smile!

My Suzy's Sack will hold my ID, cell phone, and camera - perfect for taking to various recreational activities.

Last Friday I had an arterial procedure that has me on restricted activities. In advance I'd prepped a couple projects to do from the recliner.

This one-inch English paper-pieced (EPP) project has been in the works for several months. It's 14" X 14" now, and ready to be made into a pillow for gifting. I like EPP because it's portable. This particular piece has actually flown with me twice to Kansas City. On one flight, I used it to teach EPP to the quilter in the seat next to me!

Another very fun project was this ticker tape canvas, a tutorial by Amanda Jean of CrazyMomQuilts.

From Michael's I bought a sale-priced seven pack of 12" X 12" canvases. Then, armed with Mod Podge and a stiff bristle brush, I applied fabric scraps to canvas.

These two were so fun to make, taking about an hour each. As much as I'd like to gift them, I'm not sure the colors suit the homes of those to whom I'd like to give them. 

So, for the time being, they're mine. We don't have anything hanging in our master water closet, so these will likely be the perk of color those white walls need. Maybe even hanging like this.

As for the cath lab procedure last Friday, it was a big success. Who can't like a doc with a great bedside manner, who always greets me, "Hello young lady!" (He told me I'm his youngest patient with this condition.) Hubby got to watch from behind a plate of glass, where he received a play-by-play of what was happening.

What was thought to have been a 90 percent blockage of the femoral artery in my thigh turned out to be a 100 percent blockage! It frightens me to think of how much worse this might have been.

Can you tell from this photo of my ugly feet which thigh had an eight inch-long stent put in? And which leg remains to be done?

If you guessed that my left leg has a stent (7mm in diameter and 200mm long) and that blood is flowing through the arteries again, you're right! 

Not only does the left leg look rosy and full, but my foot is warm! My right foot, ankle, and calf remain cool, which an odd sensation when the warm leg touches the cool one.

My condition is called peripheral artery disease (PAD), so if you ever notice a burning sensation in your leg, don't make light of it. My left calf began burning, only when exercising, last May! It took until August to be referred to a cardio-vascular physician to begin the series of (five) tests to define the problem. My only risk factor for PAD is presumed to be genetic.

On January 6 I'll have the right leg "done." The doc says it's 70 percent blocked. I'm not looking forward to again spending eight hours at the cath lab, nor the deep leg aches that follow the procedure - all due to the unaccustomed flow of blood - but gosh, it will be wonderful to have a regular blood flow again. And I am exceptionally grateful that my heart is fine.

This post is titled "Color is Back!" because of the colorful EPP and ticker tape canvases. But it's definitely good to again have healthy color in one leg. Linda

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Really Random Thursday

I managed a few more hours of sewing this week since being released from my "no sewing machine" restriction. I made these two 15-1/2" (unfinished) blocks for Mary in Ohio who blogs at MollyFlanders. Mary's our December "queen" of the Mid Century Modern Bee. She requested reproduction 30's-type prints contrasted with bone-colored and text prints. Hope she likes the blocks she'll be getting from me.

And my dear friend Carla continues to work on her delicious-looking, orange and hot pink Juicy Fruit quilt, one that began when she was the January queen of our Mid-Century Modern Bee. She's randomly including several Churn Dash blocks in another size, so I offered to help grow her quilt with this 12-1/2" (unfinished) block. Her quilt is going to be fabulous - something she routinely manages to achieve. Fabulous quilts, I mean.

In the hopes of being able to take better photographs of my own quilts, I recently bought a quilt display stand. It came from Pals Products in Hutchinson, Kansas. I spoke to owner, Gary, by phone, before deciding which components I wanted. 

Everything arrived in less than a week from the day I ordered it. I set it up and decided to take a picture of Bloom, a quilt that I've been unable to photograph previously because it's so big - 78" X 78".

You can see that the vertical poles are on a sturdy tri-pod base. Each of those three "toes" can be adjusted for optimum support.

Left: On top of each pole is a four-way connector. In essence that means that if you wanted to set up another quilt beside this one, you'd just need another vertical pole and top rail.

Right: Each of the vertical poles is height-adjustable. Just push on that thumb lever to raise or lower the pole to the next notch.

You can choose a rail that's meant for a quilt sleeve, or one that lets you hang a quilt with clips. I chose the clips. Since I didn't buy the Pals Products design wall fabric (I can easily do that at a later date), I'm thinking to try hanging a piece of flannel from the clips to see if that works. I know it won't have a firm back, but for teaching, it might be good enough.

You're probably thinking this sounds like a sales pitch, but it isn't. Gary probably doesn't even know I'm telling you about this. I just think it's a well-designed product, and hope it proves to be a good investment. You want to ask, so I'll tell you. It was $184, and that price includes a carry bag, and the cost for sending it via UPS.

Have you seen this? The 2014 Pantone color of the year? It's Radiant Orchid.

After seeing it, and thinking it looked familiar, I went back to a November 5, 2009 blog post where I put up this photo of a fabric I purchased when visiting Sydney, Australia. It's suspiciously similar to Radiant Orchid, isn't it?  

I specifically remember buying the fabric after seeing this tree, in Five Docks (a suburb of Sydney). This jacaranda tree inspired my fabric purchase. I've never seen a jacaranda since enjoying it in Australia. That country has such a wonderful variety of vegetation. 

Anyway, I was at first ambivalent about Radiant Orchid being the 2014 Pantone color - I was so sure the color would be some variation of navy blue - but it's growing on me. Anyone know which fabric company produces the Radiant Orchid color in a solid? 

No pictures to share about freelance writing, but I've been doing quite a bit of it for American Quilter magazine. At least three articles will be in print during 2014, and I have a couple more in the works. (Hint: Anyone know who Carolyn Friedlander is?!) It's interesting and fun to write about the latest up-and-coming people and activities happening in the quilting world.

It's just too bad that I can't be three people at once:
one who writes about quilting
one who teaches quilting
and, one who makes quilts.
Have you figured out what's my favorite thing to do? Here's a peep at the MQG Riley Blake challenge quilt that the "one who makes quilts" is working on. Free motion quilting is up next.

But FMQing won't happen until I get past another cath procedure recovery. Friday morning a stent is being put in one leg - not sure which! The doc said, "Right." His nurse said, "Left." I hope they get it figured out. Linda

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stash Enhancing, and Gifting

While taking it really easy these past five days, I've managed to at least set foot inside my sewing room to admire the lovely stack of modern fabrics added to my stash when in Kansas City, including some pieces picked up at the Sewing and Quilt Expo - the same expo (different vendors) that I attended in Lakeland, Florida earlier this year! 

It's not typical for me to buy fat quarter bundles, but in this case, it was the best way to get a nice range of colors. 
At the top - 23 new colors of Kona
at 3 o'clock - the first Kaffe Fasset shot cottons I've ever owned
at 6 o'clock - the entire Botanics collection by Carolyn Friedlander (oooh)
at 9 o'clock - Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House. They're almost classic now, aren't they?

Since I'm a pre-washer - always will be (you really don't want to hear my two fabric-bleeding stories) - I couldn't officially add the bundles to my stash until they were washed and, in the case of the shot cottons, pressed - all 112 pieces of fabric! Oh yes. I'm really that bad spoiled.

On top of the pile is a bundle of 12" zippers purchased from the Etsy shop, ZipIt. What an economical way to buy zippers! Besides, who doesn't like to have a zipper on hand for a spontaneous bag project? There's a Tula Pink's Acacia charm pack there too. I also never buy charm packs, but a Craftsy sale was too good to pass up. (I think I'm learning I should never say "never.") 

Here's a close-up of the Botanics prints that have a smattering of gold metallic thread. I'd read about these pieces, and thought you might like to see them too.

While at the Sewing and Quilt Expo I recognized and then introduced myself to this quilting celeb. Yep, that's Victoria Findlay Wolfe of 15 Minutes of Play and Bumblebeans fame. Back in 2011, Victoria and I were in block swap together - One Block Over - so it was fun to meet her in person.

As for the sewing that's happened the past few days...
On Saturday I finished these ten, hand sewn thread catchers, but needed to keep them secret until our MQG meeting tonight. Though I showed pics on Instagram, only two of our modern quilters are IGers so there's been minimal risk that they'll be seen too soon.
hand stitched thread catchers
I made them for quilters in our Central Florida MQG chapter who have helped organize and lead our fledgling organization since we began meeting in October 2012. 
Twisted and collapsed thread catchers
Thread catchers in the untwisted, stand-up position
I think they're just the cutest things! So practical to take along to a sew-in or retreat.

Here's the link to the free pattern, though instructions were fuzzy when it came to assembling them. More and better pictures would have helped.

Fair warning: making these thread catchers is pretty time intensive. Because they're formed around the inside ring of a 4" wooden embroidery hoop (just throw away the outside part, unless you can think of a reason to keep it!), this is an entirely hand-sewn project. Actually, it takes six trips around the 4" hoop before you can call it finished. A lot of hand sewing.

I changed mine up a bit by using perle cotton to attach the bag to the hoop. Gives it a decorative touch.

These are given, meaning to convey my thanks and appreciation for the time and good efforts these CFMQG leaders have given to our chapter. After tonight's meeting, I'm stepping down as leader. In 2014, it will be great to see the chapter continue to flourish under new leadership. Linda

Thursday, December 5, 2013


I should have known better than to say my next post would be about quilt-y stuff.

Because of your thoughtful and sweet comments about the heart catheterization, this is a follow-up about that experience.

After a four hour delay (yes, the cath lab was running that far behind!) the Doc checked out my heart - thankfully, an "all clear" there. But while looking into each leg, in the thighs he found larger-than-expected blockages: 90 percent in my left; 70 percent in my right.

In a nutshell... I have PAD (peripheral artery disease). Updated December 21: Technically, it's: "severe peripheral vascular disease."

Why didn't I sense this? Because the arterial plaque build-up has been occurring over years, like the proverbial frog in a pan of hot water. I don't remember what normal legs feel like. All I really felt - that triggered all the testing - was a burning pain in my left calf every time I line danced!

So, the cath was to determine the extent of the problem. Stents come next, inserted one leg at a time - during two separate procedures - one yet this month, and the other in January. The nurse said I would immediately feel the difference in each leg, after each procedure. She said my feet wouldn't be so cold! Yay for that!

Turns out the culprit in all this is "the bad boy," LDL cholesterol. The tendency to have too much can be genetic. Doc wants LDL to be less than 70. Looking back through 12 years of records, my numbers have been between 118-156, hovering on "borderline high." I've never been on cholesterol meds because my total cholesterol number has been fine... but maybe I should have been. I'll be on Plavix now. Knowing what I do, I would have preferred taking cholesterol meds than go through this

What frustrates me to no end though is reading stuff like this, knowing I've done everything right!
Often, you can successfully treat peripheral artery disease by quitting tobacco, exercising and eating a healthy diet.
"Often?" Balderdash!

Oh. And I specifically inquired about recuperating, sitting at my sewing machine. I was told "no" because I'm not to use my foot to press the control pedal. Posh and bother! Thank goodness for hand work.

On a positive note... I've suspected I have a sinus infection (is it possible to visit a grandchild and not come home with a head cold?) and the doc was nice enough to write a script for an antibiotic. Saves me another doctor visit!

Thank you for all the lovely comments that continue to come in. I especially appreciate your prayers. It makes a world of difference, knowing I have praying friends. Bless every one of you. Linda


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