Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Notebook Covers

This is another example of my mental block when it comes to sewing - or at least completing - anything that is not a quilt. Inspired by lots of quilt magazine suggestions and especially a couple of really nice book covers whipped out by my BFF Michelle Hiskey, I decided several years ago to try my hand at some notebook covers.

I pieced the three basic covers at a retreat, but then put them aside and they resided uneasily on my shelf, on my list of works in progress, and in the back of my head for years. And it was only because I just absolutely cannot stand not to finish a project once started, (and because they had been on my closer list twice without getting done!) - definitely not because I wanted to - that I finally made myself finish them at another retreat in 2011.
Of course, when they were finally done, I was quite happy that I did finish them and didn't just throw the whole mess away, which is what I really and truly would have done if my obsessive personality just would've let me! Nevertheless, I am quite clear that I'm never going to make any notebook covers again. It's so silly, because it really wasn't difficult, nor did it take very much time. But there is something about making something that isn't a quilt which I just don't enjoy at all.

Having finished the notebook covers, I gave them away as Christmas presents to my cousin Anne Mette, my sister Vibeke, and my aunt (Moster) Lene. The scraps used to make Anne Mette's and Lene's notebook covers respectively, we're from their quilts.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monkey Luv

The second sock monkey quilt I made in the fall of 2011, ended up being a little bit bigger than the first one. It turned out being just right that this one went to Baby Marlon, because he was a healthy big baby, much bigger that Baby Shai who got the smaller first quilt!

Marlon is the son of my good friend Melanie and her husband Jonathan, and most importantly, the younger brother of Lucas. I worked with Melanie for many years at the Southern Center where she still works as managing attorney of the civil litigation section - I'm not sure that's what they actually call it, when I was there we didn't have managing attorneys :) - but she supervises all the prison and jail litigation. At least when she's not on maternity leave. I have no idea what they do when she's not there! But I'm sure they manage, because they have to!
Unfortunately, because I live so far away, I haven't gotten much of a chance to get to know Lucas. But Melanie has been really sweet about sending pictures now and then - and I also get some myself occasionally from her and Jonathan's FB pages.

And I haven't even had a chance to meet, let alone get to know Marlon yet! But Melanie sent me this picture recently of Marlon, and his cousin Ray, both enjoying the baby quilt. Marlon is the cute one on the left (not that Ray isn't a sweet looking little fellow, of course!). I always love, more than anything, getting pictures of my quilts in use, so thanks a million, Melanie!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dog Bed 22

In November 2011, right before Thanksgiving, our wonderful, loyal, loving rescue dog Jesse died of natural causes at our house.  He was the best dog ever and our first dog, so he was ever so special. He came to live with us when he was two years old and lived with us for 14 years, dying of heart failure at the ripe old age of 16.  By then he was deaf, quite grey around the muzzle, very arthritic, and just plain old.  But he had been one of the most enthusiastic dogs you could ever want to meet.  He LOVED to chase balls, LOVED to go for walks, LOVED to eat, and LOVED us.  And we LOVED him.

Thankfully, when he died, I had already been a volunteer with the Mutts With Manners program for a couple of years, so the trainer at that program, immediately said, that now without Jesse, I would have room to foster one of the Mutts who needed to leave the prison.  I, of course, agreed, both because I wanted to help and because my house started feeling awfully empty and quiet the minute Jesse was gone.  I have to admit that I wasn't at all sorry when I found out what dog Cheri wanted me to take home.  I'd taken a liking to the long legged black and tan puppy long ago, and was secretly hoping it was him.

Luke had been at the prison much longer than most of our dogs.  He had entered the program younger than most of our dogs, but had also been unusually timid, so the trainers had required and taken extra time to bring him along slowly, gain his trust and allow him to grow up.  But by now he was fully trained and he and his trainer had a very close and deep bond.

But as sometimes happens, even though he was ready to leave the prison, nobody had as of yet put in an application to adopt Luke.  That was the reason Cheri asked me to foster him.  If he could come stay at my house until a permanent home was found for him, a new dog could enter the prison program and be removed from the shelter making room there.  And of course I agreed to that arrangement.

When Jesse died, my husband, Steve, told me in no uncertain terms, that he was not ready for a new dog yet.  As I, he was very close to Jesse and emotionally, he felt it would be difficult or wrong to bring a new dog into our family immediately.  I did not feel that way, but was willing to wait for a while.

Steve travels quite a bit and I am often at home by myself for days or weeks at a time.  During those periods it had been particularly comforting to have Jesse around.  But as he died right before Thanksgiving, Steve was going to be around for most of the time during the holidays and would not be traveling a lot again until his teaching schedule started again at the end of January.  So though we had not yet discussed it, I had pretty much decided that I would get another dog by the time I would start having to be alone again.

I brought Luke home from the prison on December 1, 2011.  And he wasn't too excited at all to leave with me.  He was still a fairly timid fellow, nervous about anything new, loud noises, new people, places, and things.  I borrowed a crate from John, one of the other volunteers, because Jesse had not been crate trained I never previously had a crate.  It turned out that Luke was also terrified of riding in my car and shakily hugged the floor the entire way home, rather than trying to hang out the window as most other dogs I have ever known wanted to do.  But at least he didn't get car sick!  Because I was the only thing he knew, once we got to my house, he immediately attached himself to me - that at least was helpful!

Luke may have been a timid little guy, but he was not stupid.  From the very first evening he was at our house, every night when we sat down to watch TV, Luke would climb up in Steve's lap and snuggle in with him.  It was as if he knew exactly who he had to convince!

And, of course, it worked or I would not be writing this!  After Luke had been with us for about a week, somebody did fill out an application to adopt him, but when I told Steve about it, he immediately started worrying, said he thought it might be better for Luke to stay with us, that Luke had already gotten used to us, that it would be hard for him to move, etc. etc.  All his concerns about not being ready for a dog yet, had evidently disappeared?  And, since I was already fostering Luke and was a volunteer with the program, I was able to adopt him when I filled out an application that night.  Fortunately, Luke's litter-mate was also in the Mutts With Manners program, so the people who had originally been interested in Luke were able to adopt another dog who was almost identical to him.

As soon as we adopted the dog we renamed him and he is now Luka.  Our great nephew is named Lucas and often called Luke, and I didn't want my great nephew to have to share his name with my dog.

This is a terrible picture of Luka on his first dog bed in his crate.  The dog beds are all big and puffy at first, but they settle and flatten out, so it looks really weird.  It has settled down and fits the crate perfectly.  Also, the crate he is in, which was borrowed, turned out to be too low for him. When I bought a crate for him, I got a taller one.  He is not a big dog, but his legs are really long, so he is tall - he is a great runner and loves to run.  I think he might have a fair amount of sight hound in his genetic background.

And in spite of the awkward picture, Luka actually loves his crate.  For a timid fellow like he is, a crate can be a great place to "hide" and feel safe.  I know Luka feels that way.  It's not the only place he retreats to.  He has several safe places.  It kind of depends on where we are.  He likes to be close to us also, if possible.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lotsa Monkeys

Two of my former colleagues at the Southern Center for Human Rights were both expecting baby boys in the fall of 2011, so I went to work on two baby quilts at the same time. I discovered that I had just enough sock monkey fabric left that if I mixed in some other well-matched fabrics, I could make two quilts! Perfect. I used the same pattern for both, four patches alternating with plain squares. Nothing fancy to be sure, but I had to make two quilts in relatively short order in addition to whatever else was going on!
The first of the two quilts went to Baby Shai, first-born child and son of Brooke Sealey Rupert and her husband Matt. Brooke now lives and works in the DC area, but we worked together for several years at the Center, where I originally met her when she came to work with us one summer as a law-student intern.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Full Bloom

The second quilt I carried to Denmark when I visited in 2011, was this one for my sister Vibeke. Some years ago, I had made her a throw, but for some reason it was way too small and thus not very useful, so I had promised to make her another bigger one. This quilt is actually 71" x 81" so it is more like a twin than a throw, but certainly big enough which was the point. I didn't work from a pattern and didn't design it in advance, but just put it together as I went along and stopped when I liked the way it looked, I didn't really realize how big it was until it was finished.

I started with the two big flowers and just built around them. All of the fabrics in the top - except for the two border fabrics - are from Anna Maria Horner's Garden Party line of fabrics.  As I hadn't planned ahead, I didn't have anything for the borders when I came to that step, so I went to my favorite shop, Intown Quilter, in Decatur, GA, and was fortunate to run into my favorite border person, Taffy McLaughlin who helped me pick the border fabrics.  Without her brilliance this quilt would have been much less complete.  I just love the final border fabric and think it is absolutely perfect.  But there is no way I would EVER have dreamed of pulling it off the shelf or ever imagined it would work with this quilt until Taffy put it down and I immediately saw that it was created just for this quilt.  Thank you Taffy for this and so many other borders!  And for so many other pieces of advice and everything else I have learned and continue to learn about quilting from you.

Up there is a picture of my sister holding the quilt which was expertly machine quilted to a perfect finish by my wonderful friend and Georgia's one and only professional machine quilter, Regina Carter, without whom, I would be no quilter at all.  Regina used a really fun quilting pattern called Bubbleplay, which, unfortunately, is hard to see in these pictures - sorry Regina!

Friday, August 12, 2011


When my oldest nephew, Jens, turned 5, I started the tradition of making Big Boy - or Girl, as the case may be - quilts for my nieces and nephews on their 5th birthday. With this quilt, that tradition should be completed, as it belongs to William, my cousin's youngest son and the youngest of the bunch. I believe it will be a surprise to everybody if any additional children turn up in that generation. However, if they do, I will certainly continue the tradition.

P.S. I also have a whole bunch of wonderful nieces and nephews (by marriage) but they are all older than the Danish bunch, and had actually all been born before I even started quilting. So I am on a different "schedule" of making and giving quilts to them.
I am not sure that William is really very much into sports. Unfortunately, as he and all the rest of my nieces and nephews live in Denmark, I don't see him that often and don't know him nearly as well as I wish I did. When I got ready to start working on the quilt, I remembered that when he was quite young his parents commented on how much he liked balls, while his older brother, Yonas, had no interest whatsoever in kicking a soccer ball around.

So I think it was based on that rather thin evidence I settled on a sports theme and started looking for just the right fabrics! Because William's brother, Yonas, is adopted from Ethiopia - and thus, obviously Black - I tried to make sure that the fabrics I used didn't depict just all white people and kids. I should be conscious of that every time I buy and use fabric, but it seemed especially important in this case that William got a quilt which looked like something both he and his brother could be a part of.
The back of the quilt has some children from around the world fabric mixed in! And, as always, the quilt was expertly machine quilted by the one and only Regina Carter.

Even though William turned 5 in December, he didn't get his quilt until the following August, when he was well on his way to 6 and I made my annual visit to Denmark. I am pretty paranoid about putting quilts in the mail, especially internationally, and don't do it unless I absolutely have to do so.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dog Bed 14

I made this dog bed for a dog named Petey. I've never met Petey, but I've heard lots about him, because he lives with Beth Neff, who is a fellow volunteer with the Mutts With Manners program sponsored by our local Humane Society, Danville-Boyle County Humane Society.

This is a program where shelter dogs on the verge of euthanasia are put in our program, taken to our local medium security prison and trained by prison dog trainers, making them much more attractive and adoptable dogs and then placed in good homes.

A select group of twelve prisoners live in the same dorm with the dogs and work with them 24/7. Our dog trainer and a few volunteers go into the prison once a week to work with the prisoners and the dogs, and facilitate the selection and subsequent placement of the dogs in forever homes through adoptions. But the prisoners do all the work of socializing and training the dogs. And they do a great job.

It's such a joy to volunteer with this program and see the transformation of the dogs during the 6-7 weeks they each spend at the prison. They often go from being shy, scared, and generally unsocialized dogs to happy, confident, very well behaved dogs who do very well in their subsequent homes.
Please visit www.muttswithmannersdanville.com to learn more about the program. You can also see a few pictures a my dog, Luka, who I adopted through this program. He's the handsome one named Luke on the web site.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dog Bed 13

I gave this dog bed away to be auctioned off at a benefit for rescue dogs in general and our Mutts With Manners program in particular. As I was out of town on the weekend of the benefit auction and fundraiser, I have no idea who ended up with it, I just hope some dog somewhere is enjoying it.

Dog Bed 12

My dog, Jesse, got the very first dog bed I made. It was made of a white canvas with a light colored print and actually not very practical for the purpose. But it was what I happened to have when I started making dog beds, so the first several beds looked like that. After a couple of years, however, it was beginning to look quite dirty. And I finally just decided that Jesse deserved better and gave him a brand new bed!

I put the new bed on the floor next to Steve's desk, and, of course Jesse immediately knew it was for him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Purchased 30s Strip Quilt

This is the first, and so far only, quilt I have ever bought.  Ever since I started quilting - though goodness knows I have seen and coveted lots and lots of absolutely wonderful quilts, my mantra has always been that "I make quilts, I don't buy quilts."  And I've managed to stick by that.

But I have always wanted to have one of these old thirties strip quilts.  My BFF Michelle bought several tops like this at the Lakewood Flea Market in Atlanta, but I only went there a time or two and never knew enough about what I was doing to get into trying to bargain for quilts.  Plus I am terrible at bargaining anyway.  So I just coveted Michelle's tops.

Since I've lived in Kentucky, I've been very involved in volunteer work with the Humane Society, and that is actually how I came to buy this quilt!  We were having a fund raiser for the Mutts With Manners program on a very, very hot Saturday afternoon.  I had promised I would come by to help out, and so I came by with Steve and my Little Sister.  But as things turned out, there was nothing for me to do, and it was way too hot for me to stay.  I made a quick swing by the silent auction and placed several bids.  Since it was still early I had no idea whether I would actually win anything.  But I actually, and very surprisingly, won the one thing I was genuinely interested in, this quilt, for the opening bid of $25.00.

The quilt is in pretty good shape.  Very few and only very minor stains, only minimal wear, and not even  very significant fading.  I'm no expert at all and have no experience in or knowledge at all of how to evaluate or judge the age or value or anything else of quilts.  But my guess based on the types of fabric and how the fabric is used would be that this actually is an old quilt.  Regardless, I really like it quite a bit and am very happy with my purchase.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marisela's Booster Pillow

I get to hang out with my Little Sister about once a week. Not with my biological sister, but with the one I recently acquired via the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program - Marisela, a 10 year old girl who lives about 10 miles from my house with her great-grandmother and her older sister. She is a great kid, with about 200 times as much energy as I have, and 200 times less ability to concentrate and sit still than I have. So we are very different in many ways, but we also have a lot of things in common. We both love animals, and dogs in particular. And we both love each other. That's a pretty good start.

Whenever we see each other, I pick Marisela up at her house and then we do something, go somewhere, hang out for three to four hours, and then I bring her back. In the process we end up spending a fair amount of time in my car. When we first met each other Marisela was very small. She was only 8 1/2 then. She has grown a lot taller since then, but she is still very skinny.

She has always opted to sit in the front passenger seat when we go somewhere, but she was having a hard time seeing out the window which was pretty frustrating to her. At first she tried sitting on her legs, but then they would fall asleep which made her giggle a lot. I liked that because she is so cute when she giggles, but it was not very convenient because she would not be able to walk when we arrived at our destination.

Then one day, she discovered in my trunk one of my dog beds which I had been carrying around waiting for an opportunity to deliver it to a friend. So she pulled it to the front seat and sat on it. That was a solution and she loved it and being able to see where we were going and what was all around us. She was disappointed when we had to deliver it to my friend's house and I had to promise to make her a new pillow.
This one, though Jesse is posing with it, was made especially for Marisela, to fit her specifications, smaller than the dog bed which was too big really.
And here it is as Marisela used it for many months. She still uses it occasionally, but she actually has grown so much that she doesn't really need it as much as she did originally. In fact for quite a while it hasn't even been in my car. I removed it when I had to pack my car for an out of town trip in early June and never put it back. So far, however, she has resisted my suggestions that we might be ready to donate it to a small dog. Of course, I will not do that until she is ready. Perhaps if I give it to her own small dog, she will be more receptive to the idea?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


This quilt was made from a kit I bought at the spur of the moment.  I had pretty much finished shopping, had spent considerable time in the quilt store, and had all my fabric selections cut, when I came upon this line of fabric by Pamela Mostek which immediately appealed to me.  I love the bright colors and the zebra stripes in several different colors.  But what originally caught my attention was the poppies - we have a beautiful bunch of big red poppies by the gate to our yard, which I was very excited to discover the late spring of 2009, after we moved to Kentucky in July, 2008.  In Denmark, where I grew up and which I visit every summer, wild poppies grow along the edges of the fields and occasionally across an entire field which has been left to lie fallow, and I always marvel when I see the bright red splotches in the landscape.  They're so fragile, their petals thin as silk, and if you're picking wildflowers, you know better than try to include them, because they won't survive until you get home, yet their strong red color over powers anything else out there in the field.

So I knew I "had to have" some of the fabrics.  Nevertheless, I was too tired to figure out what I might do with them if I bought them and thus no idea how much to get of each different print.  Thus, when I discovered the kit already assembled, I was overjoyed;  somebody else had done all the thinking and figuring, and I bought the kit

I much prefer real living poppies in my yard, but unfortunately, they don't bloom for very long at all.  Now, with this quilt finished, I have beautiful poppies in the house every single day of the year!

I pieced the 55" x 55" quilt and it was machine quilted using the pattern Bubble Play by Regina Carter.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don't Your Wish You Were Down Under?

This was a wedding present for my lovely niece, Julia, and her beloved, Andres, AKA, Dre - unfortunately, I cannot figure out how to do the accent on the "e" on this computer, sorry Dre.  Sometimes, I get to make and plan quilts especially for specific people for special occasions, while at other times, I happen to have a finished quilt I have made because I wanted to make it and then an occasion comes up and the quilt fits and I give it away.  Either way works for me.  But it is fun - and sometimes a challenge - to get to make a special quilt for somebody you love. 

Of course, in this case, I did have plenty of notice of the wedding and thus enough time to make a special quilt just for Julia and Dre.  However, whereas I have known Julia since she was about 3, I actually only met Dre after the two got engaged.  Julia lives in New York City now and it is there she met Dre.  It is there they have made their life together and I didn't know very much at all about that life; what they had in common or what Dre was like.  I knew that his family was from Colombia, that he was born there but had lived in this country since he was a small boy.  So like me, Dre is an emigrant.  I liked that.  And, of course, I liked that Julia loved him and he loved her.  Now that I actually know Dre, I have learned that he is a very nice man indeed, very kind, funny, smart and sweet.  And not only is he good for Julia, we are all very lucky to have him in the family!

I had already made a quilt for Julia when she graduated from college which focused somewhat on her acting interests, and since Dre is not an actor, it didn't make sense to repeat that theme.  So I finally decided just to use what I thought was some beautiful fabric and not do a theme at all!  In 2007, while I still lived in Atlanta, my BFF, Michelle, and I took a great trip to the quilt show in Paducah, KY, and I purchased a bunch of "Australian fabrics" with aboriginal theme prints.  If I am not mistaken, these fabrics were new at the time and I had taken a fancy to them.  Then, when I left Atlanta a year later, at a going away party, my friend Sue May, gave me a bunch of fat quarters of the same type of prints, so I actually had quite a collection of these fabrics which had waited for an opportunity to be used.

They seemed just right and I only had to purchase a couple of additional fat quarters to finish the top, which I hand-pieced.  I used a simple but nice pattern called "Box Step" designed by Daniela Stout and distributed by Cozy Quilt Designs which I had bought at some other occasion.
 I didn't want the entire quilt to be Australian, but thought I'd continue with the "foreign" theme at least, so I went to IKEA and picked out some beautiful fabrics which reminded me of my own Scandinavian background for the back.  Unfortunately, even though they are 100% cotton, these fabrics are not quilting fabrics, but are quite a bit heavier, almost canvas like, so they gave poor Regina quite a challenge. Having such different weight fabrics on the top and the back is apparently not a good idea!  Without Regina Carter, super machine quilter extraordinaire, none of my quilts would amount to anything, so I felt terrible about that.  But, of course she did a beautiful job and didn't complain at all. 

I also owe Regina credit for helping me come up with the name of the quilt.  I really like the dual meaning of it!  I usually print my labels on my ink jet printer and that generally works very well for me.  But in this case, there was an unusual amount of text and I didn't seem to be able to make it all fit and look right.  So I asked my friend, and fellow quilter, Bev Sullivan, who with her husband owns a retail store which, among other things offers custom embroidery on the items they sell, if she could make the label for me - just this once, since it was a special quilt.  And she did.  So the label on this quilt, is especially nice having been embroidered in nice green thread to match the green in the print on the back of the quilt.  I wish I could make all my labels this nice!  But alas, I don't have an embroidery machine and cannot pay Bev to do this every time I make a quilt.  So it's back to the inkjet printer!
I usually make a point of taking pictures of all my quilts before I give them away.  This is something I learned from my very first quilt teacher, Dana Stewart.  She actually counseled never to give away any quilts, saying we would miss our quilts if we gave them away!  In the alternative, she said, we must photograph all our quilts so we would not forget them.  I immediately knew I would follow her second piece of advice and have done so.  This quilt, however, it was too big for Steve to hold alone, so I didn't get to take a picture, but as Dre is quite the photographer, I felt sure I could count on getting some later from him and Julia.  So in this case photo credits go to Julia and Dre.  Thanks for the pictures :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Scrappy Courthouse I

In 2008, I made my first scrappy courthouse steps quilt. I saw one in a book and fell in love with it and started making mine at a quilt retreat. I used one inch strips and loved it. But once back home, I realized that there was no way I could continue working with those skinny strips for very long, so the quilt ended up as a (quite nice!) wall hanging. See Courthouse Steps to Justice, April 2008.

Nevertheless, I always wanted to make a real quilt using that pattern, so a few years ago, I decided to work with two inch strips and started the first of what I am determined will be a series of scrappy courthouse quilts. I love the way they look and it is such a great way to use up fabric scraps. I need a two inch strip at least 18 inches long and at most 54 inches long of any given fabric, plus somewhat less than a fat quarter for the center squares. That's just a whole bunch of scraps and I love that about this pattern.
I am still a hand piecer at heart and this is a great project for that. It is easy enough to make one block at a time, and doing so enables me to make sure I keep the fabrics in the right orders, which is the trickiest part of doing this. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to planning the overall layout, just made one block at a time, but am very happy with the way it came out. I had fun using all kinds of different fabrics together, both some older ones and some very new ones including some novelty prints.
I wanted the back to be scrappy as well so I decided to try what I had read about somewhere once, to copy the front onto the back but in a much larger version and made a couple of very large courthouse step blocks. I didn't work the dimensions out in advance, so I still had to add some extra borders, but I still like the way it looks.
I didn't have a plan for the quilt when I made it. I just wanted to make it, I really liked the pattern, wanted to experiment with the larger strips, and needed a hand piecing project. So when it was completed, I added a label - which I think one should always do lest one forgets when it was made etc.! Then I kept the quilt at my house, and only used it once or twice in a pinch hoping that the rightful owners of the quilt would soon turn up.
They finally did in May of 2011, when my dear friend Atteeyah Hollie married her dear friend Nate Stone - who is also a very good friend, but who I don't know nearly as well. Steve and I worked with Atteeyah for many years at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. Atteeyah came to the Center as a fellow when she graduated from Dartmouth and very quickly turned into an investigator and paralegal who stayed with us for quite a long time doing incredible work in the jails and prisons in Georgia and Alabama. Nate was with her all the time, but he was an architect, so he didn't work with us, we just got to hang out with him occasionally when there was a bit of free time at parties and such.

Atteyah left the Center shortly before we left Atlanta, to go back to her native California to attend law school, but a year ago she and Nate returned to Atlanta and Atteeyah is now a lawyer at the Southern Center where she again works with Steve while Nate has been teaching math at the Atlanta Public Schools (due to the depression, there is not a lot of work for architects these days, but I bet he is a great teacher.)

So when these two lovely, engaging, exciting, smart, beautiful, and wonderful people got married and I didn't have any time at all to make them a quilt, I immediately thought that this quilt would be great for them. It seemed especially appropriate for Atteeyah to have a quilt of the same pattern as the one which hangs in the offices of the Southern Center where she works.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dog Bed 9

My goal of getting a photograph of the receipient dog on the dog bed every time I give one away seems to be impossible to fulfil. I have been holding back pictures of dog beds I gave away several months ago, hoping finally to get the pictures so I could post them with the beds, but have decided to give up. If I ever do get the pictures, I can always post them then.

After all, the important things are that the dogs got their beds and that I recycled the fabric scraps; right?
This dog bed, number 9, went to my very dear friends Denise and Kenneth Thomas, and their dogs Spanky and Katie. Denise and Kenneth are salt of the earth people who are probably the hardest working people I have ever known. Kenneth is the farm manager of Bright Farms, where I live and where Steve grew up. He has worked on this farm since he was a boy. He worked for many years with Steve's father, and when Bob got sick and eventually died, Kenneth took over the operation and has continued to run and take care of the farm. We could not do it without him. Not only does he take care of the farm but he takes care of all of us, all of our homes and everything that needs taking care of. There is nothing he does not know and nothing he cannot fix.

His wonderful wife, Denise, whom he met and married here on the farm, is equally capable. Though she is not a farmer, they do a lot of repair and yard work together, and she has worked for people in the family for many years as well. She was particularly essential in the many years of caring for Bob when he was declining and she stepped right in again when Steve's mother broke her hip a few weeks ago.

Whenever I leave town, they care for my old dog Jesse. He loves to go to their house and is probably more spoiled there than he is at home. He absolutely gets the royal treatment and it is such a treat to me as it could otherwise be hard to leave an old dog to run off to quilt retreats or for several weeks in Denmark. But I know he could not be in better hands with Kenneth and Denise.

Dog Bed 11

This dog bed, number 11, the biggest one yet, went to my friend Cheri Carbone, Danville and Boyle County's dog trainer extraordinaire! I have been so fortunate to get to know Cheri over the past year and have learned so much from her.

Cheri does all things dog here locally, and it is a treat just to watch her around dogs. She is not only extremely knowledgeable and experienced, but she is truly a natural. She makes it all look so easy. The dogs just want to do the right thing around her.
Over the past year, I have been working as a volunteer with the Danville Boyle County Humane Society's Mutts with Manners program, at Northpoint Training Center a local medium security prison, where dogs are trained by prisoners. It is a wonderful and greatly successful program due, in large degree to Cheri's efforts.

We take five dogs at any given time, selected by Cheri from among those scheduled for euthanization. These dogs stay at the prison with the handlers, two to each dog, in the dormitory where all the handlers and dogs live together. The prisoners who work with the dogs are selected by the prison administration. The dogs remain at the prison with their handlers until they are fully trained and ready for adoption, usually 5 to 7 weeks. During that time, the handlers work and live with them full time, socializing them, teaching them basic obedience and often some tricks as well. By the time the dogs leave they have passed their Canine Good Citizen tests, and the dogs who were on death's door step are as attractive and adoptable as the best shelter dogs ever.

It is wonderful for the prisoners, who have something meaningful and practical to do, and it is amazing to see how every single one of those dogs who would have been put down becomes a wonderful, well-behaved, lovable pet. There is not a single one of them I would not love to live with.

Cheri also owns, trains, and boards dogs at her house, so I gave her this dog bed to use for all the dogs who are at her home.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sweat Shirt Jacket

Way back when I was in high school I bought a sewing machine and actually made a few pieces of clothing for myself, and when I first started quilting and again got a sewing machine, I also made a few loose pairs of pants and some really easy tops and dresses. But since I've really gotten into quilting, it's been as if I don't really want to do anything else. Occasionally, I'll see something, like a tote bag, a jacket, or some other little thing which seems really cute and easy, and I'll be tempted to make it.

I know I can do it, but invariably, I'll get half way through and then have the hardest time finishing it. I just don't have the interest or drive to finish it the way I do with a quilt, and it'll end up hanging over my head like a dark cloud of guilt, sometimes for years, before I finally MAKE myself either finish it or give it away to somebody else who will.
And so it was with this little sweat shirt jacket. Years ago, I saw and bought a pattern for making these jackets. I thought they were really cute and they looked so easy to make, so I immediately bought sweat shirts to make one for each of my four nieces and nephews in Denmark.

At that point, my now almost 13 year old niece, Anna, was probably about 7-8 years old, and I started out making a jacket for her because the red fabric I had was at the time her favorite color. But, I only got about half way and then got stuck, lost interest, and the project was put away. Over the years it nagged at me and I occasionally looked at it, thought that I REALLY ought to get back to it, finally gave the other sweat shirts to children who could use them etc.

But it was only now - inspired by two years of Michelle's Closer Club - that I finally made myself finish it.
While it was much too late to give it to Anna, she had long out-grown both the size and the style, it happened to be a perfect fit for my Little Sister, Marisela! So perhaps this time, my procrastination wasn't such a bad thing after all?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Small Change

I had some fabric left over from the quilt I made for Lauren and Michael as a wedding present, see http://zebraquilter.blogspot.com/2008/10/excotic-honeymoon.html, so when they had a baby, I thought I would be fun to use that for the baby quilt. I used a different pattern so the quilt looks very different.
I hand pieced the top, and quilted it on my own machine, which I managed because it wasn't that big. The name of the quilt refers not to my guess that Maya would only bring a small amount of change to the lives of her parents - in fact, though she was small and cute (see photo below!), I know for a fact their lives will never be the same and that she is probably the biggest thing ever to have happened in their lives. Rather, the pattern used in the quilt is a variation of the Chinese Coins pattern, and the name derives there-from. Since nothing else related to the quilt is Chinese, I thought it would only be confusing to leave that in the name.

I hand delivered the quilt on a visit to Atlanta when Maya was about a month old, so I got to hold her and get a picture of her on the quilt - one of my favorite things! She looks pretty good on it, and as it is folded, it clearly is big enough for to grow a bit!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I have to admit that every now and again I get just a bit tired of making baby quilts. Of course, I have loved making them for my nieces and nephews and for children of close friends. But, especially since moving to Kentucky, it's been a little harder to continue to be equally excited about making baby quilts for all the friends in Atlanta who are having babies when I'm so far away, not at all present for the pregnancy and often don't even get to meet the baby after its born.

I often joke that at my age, and since I didn't have any children of my own, it doesn't seem like I should know that many people who were having babies! But, of course, I'm quite happy to know and have friends who are younger than I am, and I am glad and reassured that the bright, creative, and loving young people Steve and I know are among those who are choosing to contribute to the next generation!
In this case, however, the parents aren't exactly youngsters. Baby Lila's father, Rob McDuff, is a long time friend of both Steve and myself, and an old-timer in the poverty law business in the deep South, who just happened to be very late in finding the love og his life, Emily, and in becoming a father!
It was such surprising and happy news that I was excited to make a quilt for this baby, even though she lives in Jackson, MS, and/or New Orleans, LA, and I have no idea whether I'll ever meet her.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Go Big Blue

This is the second quilt I gave away at Christmas. It was a lot less time in the making, admittedly, but also a lot less time in the planning. In our family we draw names for Christmas so the adults buy only one present each for one other adult. For Christmas 2010, the name I had drawn was Jeremiah, my nephew by marriage, my niece Sarah's husband.

Though I had had his name for a some time, it had taken me a little while to decide what I wanted to give him. Unfortunately, we don't get to hang out with Sarah and Jeremiah all that much, so I wasn't really sure what he might like. When I thought about making him this throw, I also had to double check to make sure he really is a True Blue fan. Jeremiah graduated from and played football for Georgetown College, in Georgetown, KY, which is just outside Lexington.

Everybody who knows me is well aware that I am not into sports. But where I live now is absolutely True Blue country so one has to be fairly dim-witted not to be aware of the UK Wildcats and how important they are to most people around here. By the same token, of course, around Louisville, another Kentucky team - I think they like the color red? - seems to be favored, and one can always find people anywhere with allegiances to teams other than the home team. So the last thing I wanted to do was make a Christmas present for Jeremiah which would offend him! But Sarah assured me that Jeremiah is a Wildcat follower at heart so I set to work.
For one side I bought as many different UK prints as I could find and just pieced big chunks of them together, adding, of course, a nice zebra in the middle. To make the throw nice, warm and cuddly, I put a big fleece on the back. Originally, I wasn't even going to put batting in the middle, but then it occurred to me that I might as well do so and make it a REAL quilt, since it would not be any more trouble to do so and the throw would be nicer and warmer if I did. We had a pretty cold winter which made it seem even more necessary.

Subsequently, all I did was quilt it on my machine - something I don't do very often - using the walking foot to make lots of "straight" lines.
Though it is not a masterpiece of a quilt, in this case, the fabric and the message that sends, was as important as anything, and I am pretty sure Jeremiah liked it. Here's a picture of him holding it with me on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This is Your Life

This year I gave away two quilts for Christmas. This one was pretty special for me and I had worked on it for a whole year - in secret! It is the first quilt I have every made for Steve. Of course, all the quilts I have made for us and used in the house have been for him and me, and we have slept under one (or sometimes to or three) of my quilts for fifteen years or more, but this is the first quilt I have made specifically for Steve.

Several years ago, I started keeping back some of our discarded T-shirts and rather than giving them to the Open Door, saving them for a T-shirt quilt. Steve doesn't wear T-shirts very often, but he often gets them from programs he goes to or places he works. He also had a bunch of old T-shirts in his drawers when I first came into his life, so one day we went through his drawer and managed to discard some really oldies but goodies with the promise that they would not be thrown out but put in a quilt. This all happened several years ago, and Steve forgot all about it. He is a busy man and the last thing he worries about is T-shirts that are not in his drawer!

So I had all these T-shirts in a basket and I had even saved some very special fabrics to go with them. But making a T-shirt quilt is a lot of work and not my favorite thing to do. For one thing, you have to cut up all the T-shirts and then iron the part you want to use onto fusible webbing so you can actually work with it. Otherwise the T-shirt fabric is much too stretchy and difficult to work with. And that is a very tedious and hot process, which I dreaded. Secondly, the images from the T-shirts which you end up selecting for the quilt are of various sizes, some are large like the entire front of the shirt, some just a little square from the front left pocket, and so forth. So putting the quilt together is a huge puzzle.

All this had me procrastinating for a long time until my dear friend, Michelle Hiskey, who has become somewhat of an expert T-shirt quilt maker after making one for each of her nieces and nephews as they graduate from high school and several others on commission for others also, agreed to help me on this one. She is SUCH a good friend and SUCH a great quilter.

We put most of the top together at a retreat at Kanuga in January, and I continued to work on it and the back at a retreat in Georgia.
It was a lot easier to do it all at retreat to keep it secret from Steve, though I am quite sure I could do a lot of it at home also. Most of the time he is not here! And even when he is, he does not pay very close attention to what I am working on. So as long as I had made sure he didn't notice one of his old T-shirts, I could have done it. The problem was that working on a quilt like this you really have to be able to lay it all out to get a sense of how it fits together and that would be hard to do surreptitiously! I did put the binding and label on at home, however.
Though it is here on my blog, this is really a group quilt. In addition to the invaluable help I got from Michelle in making the quilt, two other wonderful friends contributed to the quilt: The beautiful ikat fabrics in the borders of the top and on the back of the quilt were given to me by our friend Tina Ruyter many years ago. Tina imported the fabrics from Bali and gave me a whole bunch of them, mostly smaller pieces, years ago. I have used pieces of them here and there in quilts over the years, but had wanted to use them in this T-shirt quilt all along. Originally I thought they could be sashing, but realized that would be too confusing. They also are fairly lightweight, so it would have been hard to work with them right next to the heavy fusible backed T-shirts. I love the way they frame the quilt, however. I still have lots of them left and am trying to think up the next wonderful project to showcase them. Thanks Tina!

And many thanks, as always, to Regina Carter, for the wonderful machine quilting job without which there would be no quilt.