Thursday, October 3, 2013

Made in Minnesota - Why not Oregon?

On Sunday, September 29, the New York Times 
 ran the second in a series of articles under the heading:  
   bringing to light a recent trend in manufacturing to take back jobs in the textile industry lost to overseas workers during the last 25 years.

The Times article goes on to explain; ‘The issue wasn’t poor demand for the curtains, pillows and other textiles being produced at the factory. Quite the opposite.’ ‘… Airtex Design Group had shifted an increasing amount of its production here from China because customers had been asking for more American-made goods.’

Minneapolis has pioneered a new movement: 
The Makers Coalition 
 in an ‘effort to create a skilled work force from scratch’. Businesses, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and service providers have joined together to establish a nationally recognized apprentice program for sewing operations.

The Dunwoody College of Technology is now offering a full degree program to train and/or retrain workers of all ages, ethnicity or anyone transitioning from a previous career. - New hope for the large national population of workers who are still unemployed as a result of the recent economic slow down.

So why does the Portland area unemployment rate remain stubbornly at a high 7.3 percent, given the large number of sportswear and outdoor gear companies headquartered here?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sharing my reading . . .

Occasionally, I read the Minneapolis Star and Tribune online.
As this is where I grew up, I really enjoy checking back in often.
I just wanted to pass on this wonderful post written by Nancy Wurtzle.
A link to her blog is here:

Post image for Thinking of Moving? Don’t Choose Minnesota!

Are you looking to move?  Try your hand in a new city with fresh opportunities and fun adventures?  If so, please consider Florida, North Carolina, Texas, New Mexico or Colorado.  Any state but Minnesota.
Never mind the twin cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul and the surrounding metro areas are often included on many of the “Best Places to Live” lists.  Or, that The Trust for Public Land recently named the Twin Cities the nation’s best big city for public parks, besting New York City and Boston.
Big Whoop.  Don’t be fooled.  You don’t want to live here.
Take it from me.  I returned to to my native Minnesota in 2011, after living in Southern California for more than three decades.  I never thought I’d return, but personal circumstances brought me back.  After living in my small, rural hometown for nine months (population 4,300), I was paroled for good behavior and bought a home just outside Minneapolis.
From personal experience, I know it isn’t that great to live here.  Honest.
Not convinced?  Consider these four reasons not to move to the twin cities.
1. Minnesota is Much Too Progressive.  We have two democratic senators and a governor who are doing good work, and citizens who really care about the future of their state.  Did I mention our unemployment rate is 5.3%?  Did you know there is a building boom going on here?  Did you know our state coffers are in good shape?  (The best for last) Did you hear Michelle Bachmann is retiring from Congress?  It won’t last.
2. The Natives Get in Your Face.  Your neighbors will snow blow your driveway and never expect anything in return.  If you mention you’re fond of cherry pie, someone will bring you one.  During the summer and the fall, there will be backyard gatherings and everyone in the neighborhood shows up to chat, laugh, and sip wine or beer.  When you walk or ride your bike people wave and smile (and usually comment about the weather).  The residents here take friendly to a new level.  Minnesota Nice? It’s downright annoying.
3. How Quaint: People Value Learning.  Oh sure, the schools are pretty good.  We have more than 200 colleges and universities in the state and 33 of them made the annual list of “Best Colleges” by U.S. News and World Report.  And, speaking of education, please just gloss over the fact that Minneapolis & St. Paul were both included on a list of the most literate cities in the U.S. (spots three and six, respectively).  Don’t even ask me to tell you about the libraries.  Learning? It’s overrated.
4. Dubious Quality of Life.  Forget that we have way more than 10,000 lakes, great air, loads of trees, and walking and bike trails that were named the best in the country.  Never mind that we have the Mall of America, the biggest mall ever, or that our world-class museums are awesome.  Or, that we have more theater seats per capita than any other metropolitan area.  Did I forget to mention Garrison Keillor?  Please do not come to the Twin Cities to enjoy our huge farmer’s markets and our great restaurants.  Do not come here to see the thousands upon thousands of wonderful old houses and buildings that have been preserved and restored.  And, while you are not here, you surely won’t see any deer or wild turkey in your backyard (like I have in mine).  Awesome on every level?  It’s all hype.
There you have it.
I could have easily listed five reasons not to move here, but Minnesotans are notoriously modest.  Five would have just been showing off.
Hopefully, my four reasons are enough to convince you to just stay where you are or choose some other place to relocate.
Really, we’ve got enough people in Minnesota and you really wouldn’t like it anyway.  Honest.  I hate it.  I hate it so much, I’m never leaving again.  You would, too.

 by Nancy Wurtzel on June 18, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Taking a break

Hi friends,

I'm taking a little break from blogging and will return in a month or so.
Enjoy the sunshine!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On and On . . . about Modern Quilting

A few weeks ago, I ran across an article in a Bernina newsletter that I subscribe to.
I was so excited to see a brief tutorial about how to use the 'Running Stitch' on any domestic sewing machine to achieve the mechanical look that so many
Modern Quilters are enjoying now.

Here is a link to the tutorial:

Using  a Walking Foot, with the Guide attached, it's easy to keep the distance between each row of quilting the same. (i.e. the Guide allows you to maintain an easy reference point for each row.)

I enjoyed seeing how the rows of stitching were lining up as I went along.

But when I got to the step of putting the binding on,
it started to bother me that the quilting stitches were not lining up with all of the edges.

I can see, where it makes sense that they wouldn't. Given that the quilt had been randomly pieced to achieve that highly coveted "Wonky" look of a Modern Quilt  and I had used one of those seams as a reference point to begin quilting.
In spite of the fact that, I had squared-up the quilt before beginning.

My first instinct was to try to correct this in some way. 
One thing I tried, was to run a machine Basting Stitch down one edge, 
coming further in on the quilt - to see if any type of 'straightening' was possible at this time.
And of course, that made little or no difference at all.
So, . . .
the lesson here is I think, 
if you are a long-time quilter, possessing all of the Traditional Quilting rules of expectation,
when using this new method of construction and quilting,
you are just going to have to let everything go!
I personally love this 'free-fall' method.

Once I tried this method of quilting, I was ready to move on to something that was more of a challenge. 
I did find that having to line up each and every row of stitching 
quickly became monotonous for me. 
I could not image ever finishing a larger quilting project employing this method.
But, that's me. 
Time to move on . . . 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's time to work the soil

Yup, the Peas are up already.

And this is what the lettuce looks like today.

The rhubarb will be ready for Mother's Day!

This year, I decided to use these cute little brass headboards. 
They were always destined for the garden. 
My sweet hubby picked them up a few years ago at a garage sale, with just this in mind.
I just love them -Thanks! honey.

The Peonies are forming their blooms. These are an Old Fashioned Double from my Mom and Dad's house back in Minnesota.
They are both gone now, but these bring back some good memories.

All of our Rhododendrons are in bloom, too. Since we've been in this house (going on 15 years now) I don't think I can ever remember when it has been a warm enough Spring for that to happen.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Lilacs are out!

Our white Lilacs are in full bloom, so  I brought a handful into the house this weekend.
How glorious! the smell.

We are so excited to finally be enjoying the warmer days.
And, along with them, the work in the yard and gardens has begun. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

After quilting, it's time to 'Square-up' the piece.

  • Machine baste 1/4" from the edges of the top fabric, to stabilize all the layers. 
  • Use both a horizontal and a vertical seam line for alignment with your straight edge. 
  • trim only on the right outer edge of your straight edge, turning the quilt to work on all four sides. 
 It's very important to note: if you use the edge of the quilt top fabric to align your straight edge, you are only cutting off the excess fabrics and not 'Squaring-up' your work.

To illustrate, this photo shows that your fabrics sometime shift a little in the quilting process. But 'Squaring-up' helps to correct the alignment of the entire quilt. Adding the binding usually covers most of your 'corrected' areas.

Friday, April 26, 2013

And now for something different . . .

. . . I started quilting 'Watering the Trees' this week. 

I began by stabilizing the piece with some traditional quilting in -the-ditch, 
which quickly progressed to more linear topstiching.  

Then a few days ago, bored with the whole process, I just let go . . .

. . . filling in some of the spaces with stitches as if I were coloring them in with a colored pencil. Scribbling across certain areas with thread. Hmmm??? . . .
We'll see just where this takes me . . .
(To be continued)

Friday, April 19, 2013

'Watering theTrees'

This week, I needed a little 'therapy' piecing after all the violence that has been occurring in the nation.
Sometimes, this is my way of taking my head out of the present moment, to get a break from it all. 

I received this wonderful pattern in a newsletter (I think?) from the American Quilter's Society. 
It's a small tutorial on how to piece abstract representations of trees. Here is a link to the pattern page:

I believe it is from the current June 2013 issue of The Quilt Life magazine  
by Irene Berry.
It is quick and easy. But, what really attracted me to the article was how Irene starts out by writing about how forgiving this process can be. I thought I'd give it a try.

The other day, I took notice of how the trees across the street from us are looking so thin.
Evergreens do go thru different periods of losing needles and then filling back in again. But, my concern came from the fact that, some time ago, the trees in the back of our yard had also started looking the same way. I think that they are stressed from the changes occurring in our environment. . .
which gives pause for some thought.
And, of course! I had to work this out by sewing my thoughts into a quilt.

What inspires you to create a sewn 'thought'?
What do you think about while you are sewing your quilt?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter and yes, Spring . .

This little 12" x 12" quilt I finished a while back. It was intended as an entry for a competition that I decided not to enter. At the time, the stipulation was a limit on the number of fabrics we could use. There are thirteen in my composition. (A baker's dozen) 
Although, that was back in December, I was clearly working on how to portray the emergence of Spring. 
A subject on most people's mind these days, given the long winter that we all have experienced. 
. . . I think that Spring has finally sprung!

Do enjoy your Easter Holiday!

Friday, March 22, 2013

'Signs of Spring'

Well, I finally finished! 
As I have mentioned in previous posts, this quilt turned out to be a challenge for me in many ways.
With each step, I was trying something new. 
And in turn, ended up stopping and restarting in a new direction many times. 
The construction process consisted of :
Ice dying an old bed sheet
re-purposing a costume print from the Goodwill store
use of commercial prints and batik dyed fabrics
rotary tool and scissor cutting
random/irregular piecing 
machine seaming
hand applique
hand printing the quilt surface using acrylic paints 
long arm and sewing machine quilting
multicolor pieced binding construction
new sleeve/hanging technique

Yes, I am aware that I broke all the rules with this one.
I'm waiting for the 'Quilt Police' to comment.
I have to admit, I really enjoyed it all. 
Making decisions as I went along, I learned so much. . . . I'm ready to start again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Today is March 20 and my calendar is marked as the first day of Spring.

This is a quick photo taken midday, as the already overcast skies darkened, and the icy sleet came rushing down. Soon the garden was solid white.
You can see that the Skimmia are starting to release their first leaves.
I really shouldn't complain about our weather. 
By most standards, the rest of the country is dealing with alot more 'Yuck' than we have here.
I guess it's all relative.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

and some more . . .

Yup, still trying . . . 
At this stage of the game, I had the idea that I could cut out templates from freezer paper and quilt around them. Therefore, accurately sizing the quilting in relation to the leaf shapes.
But, nope. I ended up stitching and then taking all of this stitching out too.
So, back to deciding just what it is I want to see in the quilting for this piece.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Is change always good?

There's been some stitching . . .

. . . and some un-stitching.
At every stage of this project, I have changed direction. 
I work in one area, step back to evaluate what is happening, and promptly decide that
I don't like the results I am getting.
I have spent alot of time on this one. Doing and un-doing. 
Hmmm? I'm wondering just what will become of all this?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Seasonal therapy

A little playtime can be very therapeutic.

Although I haven't posted much lately, I've still been working in the studio a little each day.
Experimenting . . .

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


 Go on your journey. 
Don't let others hold you back; don't hold them back. 
Don't judge their journey; and don't let them judge yours. . .

Start today to follow your heart.

Melody Beattie from her book 'Journey to the Heart'.