Turkey Tracks: Last Night’s Snow

Turkey Tracks:  January 31, 2015

Last Night’s Snow

It snowed all day off and on yesterday–except when it rained–which produced an icy slush on the walkway and drive.

I cancelled meetings rather than take what started feeling like unnecessary trips down my driveway.  Down is one thing with that driveway.  Up is entirely another matter.

I realized I was stressed, so decided to call it a day.

The snow started sticking last night as the temps fell.

Here’s what it all looks like now–bearing in mind that the 25 to 30 inches of the last storm went down with the warmer temps.

From the front porch, after the shovelers came.  It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the depth after shoveling is three feet or more.



Another view of the front porch out to the woods:


And a shot of the path to the driveway and garage:


I woke in the night thinking that I was smelling a chemical order.  Had the propane vents been covered by a drift?  So at 3 a.m., I donned boots, coat, mittens, got the big flashlight, and checked.  No, the vent was fine.

Almost every night, our nightly news tells a story of a family magically saved by the intervention of someone who has rescued them from the out vents of the house being blocked…

The rest of the night was spent in deep sleep…

I got out my big boots to get to the chickens this morning as I knew getting into the chicken coop was going to be a problem with all the new snoe:


These big boots are heavenly to wear!

It has stopped snowing now, but another big storm is coming in on Monday.

I started a beef bone broth yesterday–can you smell the French Onion Soup that will be made soon?


Look at the color of that broth.  You can’t get that out of a box or can…

Turkey Tracks: Bonnie Sinatro’s Crocheted Ear Warmers

Turkey Tracks:  January 31, 2015

Bonnie Sinatro’s Crocheted Ear Warmers

Look what came in the mail this week!



Ear warmers crocheted by Bonnie Sinatro–and embellished with an antique button from the buttons saved by her mother!

I put it right on–of course I did–fly-away hat hair popping with static and all:


Of course I love, LOVE it–and her, too.

Thanks, Bonnie!

Turkey Tracks: “Scrappy Scraps” Quilt

Turkey Tracks:  January 31, 2015

Scrappy Scraps Quilt

Here is the second quilt in the scrappy series I have been making for my downstairs tv/sitting room–all made from the 2 1/2-inch bin of strips.

This quilt is based on Bonnie Hunter’s method in her “Scrappy Trip Around the World,” a free pattern on her quiltville.com web site and blog.

I had so much fun making this quilt!  What a treat to experience!

Basically, one sews together six strips of fabric about 17 inches long, joins them into a tube, and then cuts them into 2 1/2-inch little tubes.  Where you open the first tube determines the order of the block that develops as you open tubes and sew together the new strips.  If you want a dark, definitive block to run up the middle (which really helps define the diamonds that form), you must include a dark strip in the mix of six AND begin opening the little tubes at that point, so that dark block is on the bottom.  Bonnie has great pics on her blog of these steps.


Thanks to Megan Bruns and Matt who dropped in late yesterday with a warm latte and for a visit–for holding up the quilt.  Megan showed me several projects she was working on–and I’m now kicking myself that I did not take pictures.

I am now wondering what would happen if one made this quilt all in one color family–like blue, or red, or green…using dark and light strips…

Here’s where the quilt is going to live–to prevent the dogs from marring the couch AND for folks to use for warmth and comfort.



Here’s a close-up:


I got the backing on sale at Alewives quilt shop in Damariscotta Mills, Maine, and you can see that it works well in this room.



Here are a few close-ups:



I quilted with a spring green thread–which also worked well with the backing.  And, used the Acadia pantograph as I thought it’s swirls would work well with all these squares.

I actually think the 2 1/2-inch strips, which finish to 2-inch squares, work well in this quilt.  I think I’d prefer 2-inch strips for the log cabin though…

My eye just loves smaller bits of fabric I guess…

Turkey Tracks: Deborah’s Braided Rug

Turkey Tracks:  January 28, 2015

Deborah’s Braided Rug

Friend Deborah Oliver has been trying out different methods to make rugs.

She thought of knitting one–and mixing fabric with heavy cotton yarn.  And then, friend Gail Nicholson said, “you know, I have this loom you might want to try.”

Gail was referring to the Appalachian type loom that I’ve shown here several times.  It’s a simple arrangement of four pieces of wood and nails that hold the background fiber.

So, here’s the rug Deborah made.

Mail Attachment


She has to tie off her ends in the middle yet.  But isn’t the aqua a perfect match with her walls?

And, now, she’s hooked on making rugs…

Turkey Tracks: It’s Arrived!

Turkey Tracks:  January 27, 2015

It’s Arrived!

Some years back, I gave my Mike/Tami grands an amaryllis.

Talula was entranced with it–watching each day as it grew and the flower bud developed.

On the morning it bloomed, she woke everyone up with the announcement that “it’s arrived.”

* * *

So, this past Christmas season, I gave some amaryllis to several people I know who I thought would get a kick out of them.

A reminder:  I don’t “do” Christmas gifts, but try to connect with all the people in my life in some meaningful way over this season of dark delight.

One amaryllis went to Linda McKinney’s granddaughters, Addy and Willow.

Well, this week, “it arrived,” and Addy, who had been following it with much interest, was delighted.

Here’s the picture Linda sent to me this week.  She’s been telling me for some weeks not how interested Addie has been in this flower process.



I am so happy that I have, again, participated/facilitated in drawing a child into the magic and power of the plant world.

Margaret Rauenhorst and Ronald VanHeeswjik host a magical solstice night with a HUGE bonfire and special drinks every December.  So I tucked an amaryllis into a sack for them and left it on their kitchen table.

Here’s the pic Margaret sent me today:


What a cheerful, cheerful, lucious reminder that though a blizzard is coming, that spring will, once again, also come!

I like to give timely experiences…


Turkey Tracks: Wild and Crazy Quilt

Turkey Tracks:  January 27, 2015

Wild and Crazy Quilt


I am now piecing Bonnie Hunter’s 2014 Mystery Quilt (started Black Friday after Thanksgiving and revealed just before New Year’s 2014).

This quilt is one wild and crazy thing!

Here’s what my blocks look like so far–they are not joined to one another yet–just pinned.  I am intrigued by the secondary pattern between the whirlagigs.  So interesting!



Here’s a close-up of one block.  Each block is sashed with the green/white/black outer border.  The cornerstone is the big aqua block.


Turkey Tracks: Blizzard of 2015


Turkey Tracks:  January 27, 2015

BLIZZARD of 2015

Yesterday I prepped for what was being projected as a blizzard.

Food for a few days INSIDE (not in the garage), chicken food bins filled, snow shoes and poles inside (in case I need to check the propane egress pipe outside or get to the chickens), snow shovel inside (the blizzard two years ago drifted up my back kitchen door), and so forth.

As always, my excitement rises at the prospect of a big snow storm–as long as I can count on being safe and warm–which the generator guarantees to a large degree.

I put the dogs out at 3 a.m.–not an unusual event.  No snow yet.

I woke again at dawn, and could see that the storm was just beginning here.

I got up at 7:45 or so, and we already had at least 18 inches on the ground.

Here’s the first pictures I took.  I use the top of the hot tub as a good gauge.






The wind is gusting pretty high, and the snow, which is pouring out of the sky, is very light and dry and blowing in huge swirls everywhere, so there are drifts.

The back door is beneath a place on the roof where the wind creates a chute that pours drifting snow into huge piles.  That’s what happened during the last blizzard, which started in the night so I couldn’t see what had happened.

I donned outside gear, pushed the door open, and started clearing a path to the chicken coop.  The snow was almost to my knees in places.

The chickens were so happy to see me.  I was able to open their door to the cage, give them fresh water and food, and turn on their light.  (It was 9 degrees outside, and with the high winds, much lower wind-chill temps.)

At 10:30, I went back outside to shovel, as my paths were already filling and the back door was drifting up again.  This time I shoveled a path on the front of the house so the dogs have a place OFF THE PORCH to pee.

Predictions are that the snow and wind will continue through the day and into the night.

I’ll go back out to the chickens late afternoon and replenish food and water and take them some treats.  I got three eggs this morning, including a blue egg from Ginger, who has not laid one in some time.


I am piecing the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt of 2014 (see separate post)–Grand Illusions and listening to an audio book–one of the James Lee Burke, David Robicheaux novels.

And later, with a meatloaf dinner (baked potato and sautéed Swiss Chard), I’ll work on the binding of my version of Bonnie Hunter’s “Scrappy Trip Around the World,” which I’m likely to call just “Scrappy Scraps.”



Quilting Information: Long-Arm Practices That Work for Me

January 26, 2015

Long-Arm Practices That Work For Me

Last year in April I took several classes at the Machine Quilters’ Expo in Manchester, New Hampshire.

What I learned there–and also what I’ve learned from the long-arm quilters on Bonnie Hunter’s Facebook Studio for Quilters–has helped me so much.

So, I thought I’d share…

Make sure your bars are level.  Get or borrow a four-foot level and check them.  If they are off, tinker until you have them level.

This apparatus below involves suspending a curtain rod over the bars and bringing the side fasteners over it.  AND, see the long rod with the blue ribbons?  Underneath is a plastic piece that the rod snaps into.  This arrangement gives the sides of the quilt a great deal of stability AND prevents you from quilting off of it.  (There are several forms of this kind of stabilizing rod for the edge of the quilt.)



Here’s another view:



I load my quilt backing in the normal way.

But after being encouraged to do so, I float my top, just like the batting.  See?


I  sew a plumb line on the batting (using my channel blocker piece), then line up the top of my centered quilt on that line–and sew it down.  THEN I measure both sides of the quilt from the frame on each side and as I move the quilt forward, I make sure that I keep those measurements constant along the length of the quilt.  I sew down the sides every time I roll the quilt forward.  Every time. Especially if I am using a pantograph.

BIG TIP:  If I were to roll the top onto the top bar, I would try to place the quilt (and the backing if needed) LENGTHWISE–which minimizes the bulk of side seams being rolled up over and over on top of each other.

At the end of the quilt, I roll forward to expose the end and sew that down before making the last pass.

I make a lot of scrappy quilts that seem to do best with an overall, even pattern.  So I use, mostly, pantographs–sometimes I free-motion a pattern, but less and less so as I like the patterns in the pantographs.  I place the pantograph UNDER this grid that fits the length of my table–and mark on it with a wet erase marker that can be erased with water.



I estimate the amount of thread that one pass will take–and whether or not a whole bobbin will reach through two passes.  On a large quilt, it will not.  So, I estimate the number of passes I will be making and load that many bobbins–from 2/3 to 3/4 full, depending on what I think the pass will need.  The leftover thread gets run off onto bobbins for my domestic machine and/or just used up piecing scrappy quilts I’m making.  There is no thread waste.  (I also use Signature thread, which is sturdy, has a good range of colors, and is way cheaper than that other brand that is so pricy.  I do have to order it online and bought a thread card showing all the colors.)  Here are leftover threads.  More importantly, there are NO thread joins in the quilt body.


One of the BIGGEST TIPS I got last year was from Sue Patten (quilter extraordinaire):  “Let the right hand steer if you are right handed.  The left hand doesn’t like to steer!”

I was having some trouble with thread shredding at the needle site, and with the advice of the long-armers, I went up a needle size.  As I do very scrappy quilts, there are a lot of seams, so I try to keep my backings pretty plain–which does not add to the bulk of the quilt sandwich.  The thread shredding involved both the expensive and the less-expensive threads…



Before quilting, I put three lines of Sew Rite down the length of my thread cone.  Magic!  No more shredding.


If things do start to go wrong, I turn off the machine and walk away.

I think my own personal goal for next year is to try to use more of the speciality rulers I’ve purchased for the long-arm.  Maybe I’ll see if there are some hands-on classes at this year’s MQX show in April…

But, I won’t put any pressure on myself, because, truth to tell, what I like best to do is to piece a top that will be used and loved and washed–so a lot of fancy quilting doesn’t draw me.  I’m not sure that I have the patience for it!!

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Blog: Big Hips. Open Eyes.

January 26, 2015

Big Hips.  Open Eyes.

I’ve known Tracy Rothchild Lynch just shy of twenty years.

She’s the same age as my sons–and comes out of the matrix of their friends AND out of the network of my friends Terry and Cathy O’Grady and their daughters.

Tracy has always been a thoughtful and talented writer.  Always.

There’s something about the life of a person who must…write.  It’s a chronic condition that just, somehow, never goes away.  The impulse to write, to think and write, just keeps emerging.

With a person like Tracy, whatever emerges is worth every minute spent reading the work.  I always learn something of value from this person who has a deep grounding, a deep perception of life itself, and a lovely sense of humor that seasons the work.

Tracy is trying to write something every day for this year.  Something that involves relationships in some way–those moments that occur every single day in, often, myriad forms–if only yours eyes are open to see them.

Treat yourself to the current entry, but go back, too, and read all of them before the numbers multiply.  Then sign up to “follow” this blog, which is already acquiring some impressive numbers.


Big Hips. Open Eyes..

Turkey Tracks: Quilts From Friends

Turkey Tracks:  January 20, 2015

Quilts From Friends


I love having quilts made by my friends all around me.

Every time I see one of those quilts, which is many times each day, I think of that person/those persons.  And I feel all the loving energy that went into that piece of work.

I bought this quilt top at a quilters’ auction in Virginia just before we moved to Maine.  I thought it looked like Maine, and I love baskets.  I quilted it the first winter we were here–2004-2005.


My Virginia quilt bee–the Toppers, because we made a lot of top for our big group’s auction–sent me to Maine with the Buzz Saw quilt–which I recently showed you:



It lives in my bedroom.  Underneath it is an afghan made by my SIL Maryann Enright which lives on my bed most of the time.


Roxanne Wells made this quilt, which hangs in my bedroom.


The Coastal Quilters made this quilt for John and me when he was so sick.  They said we needed a “quilting hug.”  This picture is on my bed, but this quilt lives in the downstairs bedroom that we set up for him and that he never used.  That room has been repainted and refurbished and is a favorite of many in the family.  I am in and out of that room many times each day as its closet holds a lot of my quilting tools.

Shine On edited

My DIL, Tamara Enright, made this quilt for my birthday a few years back.  It hangs at the entrance to my quilt room:


Did you know that cardinals are said to come to a house when there is trouble/emotions.  On the day John died, we had five or six at the feeders.  Ordinarily these birds stay in Camden and don’t come out to Howe Hill.  They like flat feeders…

Gail Nicholson made this quilt, which has launched me on a quilt trip to put more quilts into the downstairs sitting/tv room/den?



Joan Herrick quilted Gail’s quilt.  Joan quilts free-hand on a long arm!



Betty Johnson makes beautiful little art quilts.  I finally got one of hers at our last auction:


It lives in the living room:



Milly Young made this quilt top, and I bought it at one of our auctions and finished it and fell in love with it along the way.


Millie Young's quilt

Millie Young's quilt 3


I really need to use all these quilts more than I do now.

I have always had a tendency to “save” things for “good.”  But the point of a quilt is to USE THEM.  So, this last one is coming downstairs TODAY to go into my sitting room project.