DSQ6 Received

May 6, 2009

For a week I have been patiently waiting for the sun to come out so I could photograph the wonderful quilt that arrived from Salt Marsh Designs in New Hampshire. Then the clouds parted yesterday but the camera was nowhere to be found. After the sun went down I found the dern thing in the bottom of my knitting bag. Now the gloom is back but the photo shoot just couldn’t be delayed any longer.


This quilt is genius. She improvised it ala Gee’s Bend and then backed it with…BATIK! I love batiks but never would have thought to pair it with wonky log cabin blocks made with solids. The offset stacked coins are my favorite part. This will look great on the wall of my future sewing room. The wall color I have chosen is a light blue similar to the one in this quilt. Here’s a close up of the hand quilting.

fabulous design

This intrepid quilter went way out of her comfort zone to make this quilt for me. After piecing the top, she blogged that although she enjoyed working without a ruler or rotary cutter, this design was really not her and didn’t represent her point of view. It grew on her though, and after the quilting was done she was reluctant to send it off. But I am very very glad she did. Thank you Ms. SMD for this beautiful work of art!


An Evening in Paris

April 17, 2009

Gwen went to the prom with Alexander again this year. Both of them seemed to have more fun than they did last time, possibly because they are older. See how much more grown up my baby looks since the last prom!

They visited the Eiffel Tower

An Evening in Paris

And relaxed at a French cafe

At a French Cafe

Then they hit the dance floor

On the Dance Floor

Prom Date

About halfway through, the DJ’s turned on the disco lights. Once Gwen saw them flickering across the ceiling she wouldn’t look at anything else.

Disco lights!

Her necklace is a little diamond pendant that my grandmother gave me years ago. I’m not that into jewelry (except earrings) but putting this piece on her was kind of thrilling. It is one of those things I never expected to do but got to anyway!

Some odds and ends

April 4, 2009

A few random things from gwenshouse: I have acquired fabric for Doll Quilt Swap 6! I decided to use the pinker solid on the right. I’m dying to cut into it but can’t decide on a design.

fabrics for DSQ6

We have some more pictures of Gwen as a flower girl at Elisabeth’s wedding. Here are some of the better shots.

with Alexander

With Alexander at the rehearsal.


the recessional

wedding girls

Wedding girls

Finally , I have neglected for far too long to thank two online friends for some nice recognition. Gothamgal tagged me for “Your Blog is Fabulous” and the aubirdwoman gave me a “Sisterhood Award”. Thanks ladies, I appreciate your friendship!

Can’t Let Go

March 30, 2009


Today I must mail this little swap quilt across an ocean. It’s very hard to let it go because just it may be my best to date.

monochromatic quilt for swap

Last year I saw this quilt made in rainbow colors and was reminded of it while cruising my flickr favorites for inspiration. My partner chose green for the color, so I was limited to green, black and white for this monochromatic challenge.

quilting detail

It was a little scary to try a pattern that requires so much precision. After the squares were pieced I waited two more days to join them for fear that they wouldn’t line up. But it worked out somehow and the result is far better than I expected. Don’t you love it when that happens?

My only major goof was forgetting to add a seam allowance to the pattern piece. As a result, the pinwheel squares are smaller than originally intended. But it looks fine and the quilt measurements, 16″ x 19″, are within the swap parameters. And to give credit where credit is due, it was gwensdad’s good idea to use white for the binding instead of green.

This little success has really given my confidence a boost. That’s why it’s so hard to actually put in the mail :( But it must go because it’s time for me to move on to Doll Quilt Swap 6. I have some lovely fabrics but have not yet decided on a design. Hmmmmm….

Amen, Sister!

March 29, 2009

On Thursday I went to the theater with some girls from church to see Sister Myotis’s Church Retreat. It was two hours of sanctified hilarity.

Since there are not words to describe what we experienced, I will refer you to this video clip of the Sister herself. Check out her website as well.

**It seems as though her website is no more. But here’s a link to the Sister’s myspace page.

Monochromatic quilt received

March 26, 2009

Every time I find a new swap quilt package in my mailbox, my heart beats a little faster.   Here’s what arrived this week from Alice’s House for Four Seasons Quilt Swap 6.

In this round of the Four Seasons swap, the quilts were to be monochromatic with the recipient choosing the season and the main color. I asked for “fall” with “soft golden orange” and Ms. Alice delivered! She named it “Whoosh”, as both the design and the quilting suggest falling autumn leaves blowing in the wind.

Participation in these swaps has taught me not to be so sure about what I think I don’t like. For a long time I cringed at fabrics with metallic content or prints. But when my adorable winter quilt arrived with shiny accents from the equally adorable Ms. Birdie in Australia I promptly changed my mind. This time it was convergence quilting I had never cared for this type of quilt because the colors fade in and out of each other too gradually and it ends up looking murky. Alice’s use of two colors in the same family but with contrasting values made all the difference! Her quilt has high contrast geometric color blocks just the way I like it.

A great exercise to stimulate creativity would be to choose a style or fabric you don’t like and tweak it until you do like it. Civil War reproductions fabrics have never inspired me because the colors and prints are so understated. What would I do if someone gave me a fat quarter pack of such fabrics with a commission to make something out of them? In the same vein, I find 1930’s reproduction fabrics too cutesy. Could these little prints be de-cute-ified? Maybe, maybe not, but the challenge would be fun!

In other news, I am almost finished with my monochromatic quilt and will blog it as soon as I get some good photos. As the mailing deadline approaches, new quilts are being added to the FSQS Flickr pool every day. There is some serious gorgeousness over there, so be sure to take a look.

The Wedding

March 19, 2009

Gwen’s social life is picking up this spring.  Last weekend she was a flower girl in the wedding!

Gwen’s caregiver Elisabeth was the bride.  The colors were black and white with red accents.  Elisabeth wanted Gwen in a dress with a black bodice, a white skirt and some red trim somewhere.  I went ahead and made a duplicate of last year’s prom dress using silk dupioni in black and white.  It was very scary to be sewing that beautiful thin silk, but dupioni is surprisingly strong and nice to sew.  Pin marks didn’t show on either color. It is imperative to zigzag or serge ALL raw edges because the stuff ravels. Fluffy black threads are still wafting around my sewing area.

For the red trim, I made a ribbon ladybug because Elisabeth’s mother has called her “ladybug” ever since she was a tiny preemie many years ago.  The florist decked out the back of the wheelchair with white tulle, white ribbon and a cluster of red roses.  We couldn’t get any smiles out of our usually happy girl.  We thought it was because she was tired, but it turned out she was on the verge of being sick with a nasty virus.

OK- on to the pics!  A view of the ladybug:

Gwen with her boyfriend Alexander, who served as the ring bearer.   Gwen will be attending Alexander’s prom again this spring.  She will wear the same dress but we will glam it up a little.

There were lots of kids in this wedding.  Gwen and Alexander both needed escorts to get down the aisle.   These handsome dudes (ages 5 and 6) did a great job.  Gwen’s escort, J, is a pro at posing for pictures.  Doesn’t he look suave in that tux?  At the rehearsal I asked him what he was going to wear in the wedding.  He said, “Fancy shoes!”

Gwen and Alexander were great attendants. They only made a little noise. Alexander’s mother and I were strategically seated on the front rows in case somebody got a little too rowdy but everyone behaved beautifully.

In the lobby after the ceremony.  Aren’t Gwen and her daddy just two peas in a pod?

Elisabeth has taken care of all of these kids at one time or another.  The boy standing up is not handicapped, but is the twin brother of the boy in front of him.

We are hoping that the wedding photographer has at least one pic of Gwen with a smile.  She did perk up a bit at the reception, because after all it was a party!

This made for a tiring weekend but it was a lot of fun. I was a flower girl three times and it was fun to see my sweet baby have the experience too. Even if she had no idea what was going on.

WIPs and FOs

March 9, 2009

I’ve been working on a few things!

Several weeks ago I made this cutie patootie a soft fuzzy hat made of recycled yarn. We hear he got a lot of mileage out of it while the temperatures were low.


Although it is 70 degrees today, part of last week was snowy and frigid. One day I passed a bus stop where a man was waiting with the cold wind whipping through his thin gray hair. He had gloves and a mid-weight jacket but he really needed a hat. So I decided to make some and keep them in the car for such occasions.  I used an old favorite pattern that gives instructions for 6 sizes of this hat in 7 different yarn weights.   The first was made with some scrap yarn.  It may go unused until next November, but it will be ready when someone needs it. The colors are much better in person.


Current projects are a flower girl dress for Gwen to wear in Elisabeth’s wedding this weekend (pics to come, I promise!) and a spring-themed mini quilt for FSQS5 Monochromatic challenge. I used the fabrics from the last post and scattered them willy nilly to reflect the profligate greening that goes on at this time of year.  Here’s where I left off yesterday:


This is a LOT of little pieces to sew together but I like the way it is turning out.  I may even hand quilt it!

Let the stitching begin!

March 2, 2009

fabrics for DSQ 6 quilt

Tomorrow is the beginning of a big sewing month.

First we need a flower girl dress for Gwen to wear in a wedding on March 14.  The bride wants a black bodice with a white skirt and some little red roses as an accent color.  Gwen’s prom dress from last year still fits her,  so that pattern will be the starting place.  This time I’ll make the top and skirt separate for maximum wiggle room.

I must also get cracking on my monochromatic mini quilt for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap #5.  The design (not my own) has been chosen and the pic above is a preview of the fabrics I’ll be using.  More as things progress.

Then, as you can see in the sidebar, I have signed up for Doll Quilt Swap #6.  My first quilt ever was made for DSQ #2 but I was too busy to sign up for #3-#5.  I wish I had that quilt back.  The photo is the most frequently viewed in my Flickr photostream and the recipient didn’t even acknowledge receiving it!   I know she has it because I sent it with tracking.

The other news around here is the wacky weather.  Last Thursday and Friday were fabulously warm but Saturday afternoon the temperature plunged and snow came down until it was as deep as 8 inches in some places – very rare for Memphis.  All the shrubs looked like frosted cupcakes.  I covered my flowers from the last post with some clear plastic and they seem to be holding up.  Later this week we are expected to have highs in the 70’s.     Whatever!

Renegade Crocus

February 13, 2009

A few years ago, my mom gave me some tiny iris bulbs that yield cute little iris in spring. But somehow an odd crocus bulb got into the mix and surprises us every February.  Such bright yellow is a shocking sight at this time of year!    I have also spotted quince and forsythia blooming around town.  What signs of spring are you seeing, if any?

Renegade crocus

Opera quilt update:  I was hoping for at least $100 and the quilt sold for $110.  Success!  Thanks for all your nice comments.

Opera Quilt

February 7, 2009

The opera quilt is finished and was delivered to the opera fundraiser about an hour ago.  It looks good from a distance.  Here it is, modeled by Gwensdad.

Opera quilt

This is the largest thing I have ever quilted.  If I ever say I want to do it again please shoot me.  Wrestling all that fabric in and out of the sewing machine was really not fun.  But I loved working with all those great black and white prints.  And there are plenty of scraps left over so I can make something for Gwen.

The pattern is Denyse Schmidt’s Hop Skip and a Jump.  Ever since making my first doll quilt with a miniaturized version of the pattern I have wanted to make it again.

Here’s a closer look.  When the top was finished it looked like there was too much white.  So I quilted the white strips to give them some texture and left the black prints alone.  The quilting job is really amateur. But it’s a crib quilt and the baby won’t care.  Hopefully the potential bidders will have a few drinks in them and won’t care either!

opera quilt

Rebel Without a Ringtone

January 28, 2009

The other night the school system robo-called parents to remind us that kids are not allowed to bring cell phones to school.  If they do, the school will confiscate the phone and the parent will have to come to school in person to get it back.

Being the rabble rouser that she is, Gwen thumbed her nose at the rules and flaunted her cell phone all over school today.


And there were consequences.


Oh dear.

Historic Day!

January 21, 2009

Gwen woke up fussy and congested this morning so I took her to the doctor amid rare Memphis snow flurries. We got home just in time to witness the big event. She did not understand what was happening but had a ringside seat anyway.  After the oath of office, I moved her to her feeding chair for some lunch.  She turned her head left (she usually looks right) toward the television and watched Obama’s entire speech! 



Sewing Again!

January 10, 2009

Last fall I had to refrain from joining any more quilt swaps because it was crunch time at work and there was holiday making to be done.  But now it’s a new year so I jumped right into the Four Seasons Quilt Swap 5 as soon as signups opened.  FSQS 1-4 were doll quilts in seasonal themes and I did them all:  fall, winter, spring and summer.

dscn1765 img_0042 img_0306 img_04141

This time around it’s a little more challenging because the quilt has to be monochromatic.  Everyone had a choice of receiving a doll quilt OR a table runner and could specify the season and main color.  I have a partner from far away and my brain is busy imagining what I will make for him or her.

But first I’m making a crib quilt that should get me in a monochromatic mood.  Here is part of it cut out:


There will be a little color too, but this is all the cutting my attention span allowed today.  I’m using Denyse Schmidt’s Hop Skip and a Jump pattern again because it turned out so well when I made it earlier.  The fabrics were a great deal from Contemporary Cloth.  Before Christmas they had everything on sale and I got 3.5 yards of these various prints for less than $30 including shipping!  I try to shop locally but Memphis is sorely lacking in contemporary fabrics.

This quilt is for one of my awesome knitting friends who is the Director of Development for Opera Memphis.  She needs some stuff  for their upcoming auction that will take place in conjunction with a wild game dinner.  (We got to hear all about her trip to Mississippi to pick up a “processed” deer for this event.  Not pretty! ) The money goes to their education program which brings performances to schools.  One of these events at Gwen’s school revealed that Gwen loves opera and enjoys singing along with the sopranos, so we are happy to make a contribution.

It’s great to be sewing again after the knitting rampage that took place right before the holidays!  There is one really nice project on the needles but it is a gift and  can’t be shown yet.  I’ve also selected a pattern for some Christmas 09 knitting and have all kinds of projects lined up to start after the quilts are done.   Yay for a new year!

Holiday Surprises

December 29, 2008

Ever since the Nervousness main site went down I haven’t done much mail art.  So random surprises in the mailbox have been few and far between.

However, this holiday season brought me some unexpected delights.  First, this gorgeous card carved and printed by the uber-talented Lemur from from the plains of Canada.  Ever since meeting her I have been in awe of what she can do with fabric, thread and paint.  


The Lemur is famous for her self portrait quilt which appeared in Quilting Arts magazine and went on tour all over the USA and who knows where else.  

Then came a very mysterious package from Scotland.  I didn’t recognize the return address and couldn’t imagine what was inside.  It was a pink handknit set for me and a little snowman for Gwen.  Doesn’t he look right at home on a fluffy white comforter? 

img_0723  img_0725

These lovely gifts were from Isobel who is the sister of The Scot who is the husband of my Aussie friend Sheila, aka aubirdwoman!  It has been warm here but as soon as the temps drop I will be stepping out in this ensemble.  Gwen has been staring intently at the snowman because she loves black and white and contrasting colors.

Thank you ladies for the hand made holiday goodness!

Hot Off the Needles

December 18, 2008

Can you see the smoke coming off these babies?  I made all three of them in four days.  The last pom pom was attached with about 20 minutes to spare.  But now they are in the hands- or on the heads- of Gwen’s three classmates as they begin the winter holidays.

hats for Gwen's friends

Moving right along

December 10, 2008

I recovered from that early October virus (physical, not computer)  just in time for the annual volunteer appreciation party. I manage a charity knitting and crocheting program and we have a big throw down every fall. 

This was my 10th time to give this party but this year I couldn’t find any entertainment. We have had everything from a senior dance troupe to a bluegrass band to a fabulous Russian choir, but one week before the big day I had still not found anything. Fortunately I had a flash of genius while eating at a local pizza joint with Gwensdad. We would provide our own entertainment by staging a trivia quiz show with partygoers as contestants!

Using the door prize ticket numbers we selected participants for Team Knit and Team Crochet



I wrote a script and some very good sports from my Tuesday night knitting group acted as host, hostess and scorekeeper. Because 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of our program’s sponsoring agency, the first round featured multiple choice questions about the agency.  The second round of questions was all about knitting, crocheting and yarn.   Team Crochet emerged victorious and got first choice of the door prizes as a reward.   

At the end of the party we had about 2600 warm caps and lap robes and since then we have collected enough to put our total above 3100 for the year.   Our volunteers are the greatest!  You can see more pics of the party on the program blog.

Coming up for air

December 1, 2008

*gasp*  I’m here!  I’m ok. Really!

Things got a little out of hand.  First I got sick- caught what Gwen had the last time I posted and it took us both two weeks to feel better.  Then I got busy- it was crunch time at work but everything went well.  Next, I got lazy because I was tired from being sick and busy.   And now we have come full circle and I’m sick again- spent Thanksgiving with strep throat:(   We caught it early and I am now slowly recovering.

Despite the chaos and misery, there was some crafting going on.  I’ll take the next few posts to catch you up.

Back in October I took a much-anticipated free motion quilting class.  I was the only person there from Memphis proper- the rest were from suburbs or from north Mississippi.  Most were more interested in talking than working and one was the know-it-all type that walked around giving unwanted advice.  But I had a great time and did much better than I expected.  The key was to use the machine at high speed but move the fabric slowly under the needle.  Here are the results.  Not too bad for a first try.  I need more practice but this is definitely do-able.

Oh, and I finished the blue scarf too!

blue scarf fo

Happy Halloween

October 31, 2008

Gwen is off to see the Wizard!

Jane, stop this crazy thing!

September 25, 2008

This week has been a roller coaster ride.  My aunt had knee surgery on Monday and Gwensdad is scheduled for oral surgery Friday.  But in between my SIL got put in the hospital with scary symptoms, we had no sitter for Gwen on Tuesday night and then today Gwen woke up sick and had to stay home from school. 

So far my aunt is home and doing really well, the SIL is going home today but they don’t seem to know exactly what happened to her and Gwen’s on the road to recovery from some mystery crud (with ear infection) that she probably picked up at school.  A little much for one week if you ask me.

I put a WIP scarf on hold so I could start this one.

It will be a gift for a co-worker who has helped me many times over the years.  It has to be finished in a few weeks so I am working on it every day. I’m using this pattern  found on Ravelry.   Another Raveler made it with some modifications  and was kind enough to share them  with me. The yarn is Classic Elite  Wool Bamboo which is soft, springy and lovely. The color is much richer   than the photo shows. It will look fantastic when it is finished and blocked.

Tuesday was 1/2 price day at the DAV Thrift shop, so I had a great morning of thrifting at that shop and two others nearby.  Gwen needs some lightweight pajama pants and will have them as soon as I refashion these adult sized pants to fit her.   Why can’t they have cute prints like this in the fabric stores?


Ms. Birdy asked about the Carnival of Green Crafts.  A blog carnival is like an online magazine with many bloggers contributing articles on a common subject.  Blog carnivals are often hosted on a different blog or website each month.  The Carnival of Green Crafts was begun by the authors of Crafting a Green World which includes a wealth of information about renewable and sustainable crafting materials and ideas.  I offered to host the Carnival early next year so maybe you will see it here soon. 

Gwen has been patient but wants her mama back now.  I hope Gwensdad makes it home soon because there is no caffeine in the house!