Thursday, December 14, 2017


According to myth, the Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a white blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting and the flowers turned blue.  The shrub then became know as the Rose of Mary.

In the Middle Ages, rosemary was associated with wedding ceremonies.  The bride would wear a rosemary headpiece and the groom and wedding guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary.  From this association with weddings, rosemary was thought to be a love charm.

The plant has also been used as a symbol for remembrance.  Mourners would throw sprigs of rosemary into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead.  Shakespeare's Ophelia said:  "there is rosemary, that is for remembrance."

Lemon and Rosemary Simmering Potpourri
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (or whole cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups water

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas Quilts

To make things more festive and colorful for Christmas, I brought quilts out of storage.  Depending on the time of year and holiday, my quilts rotate in and out of rooms.  When they are not on display, they are comfortably resting on a (guest) bed, no folds and out of direct sunlight.  The bow tie quilt is on the back of the sofa.  The Harry Tyler's lion print is the backing of this bow tie quilt.  It added some nice color.

Jo Morton Christmas log cabin from the book Jo's Little Favorites (Book I).  I feel in love with this little quilt the minute I saw it pictured in her book.  The fabrics used in this quilt are mostly traditional greens and reds, I added gold/yellow for interest.  If you look closely, the black center of each log cabin has a holly print.  Carol Ann, my long armed quilter did a great job with the Baptist fan on this quilt.  

The HST quilt is one of the first Christmas quilts I made.  The red and green fabric add that special Christmas look using traditional fabric.

Tumbling Blocks was a birthday gift from a college boyfriend.  He gave me the pieced top, I had it hand quilted.  The quilt had a happier ending than the relationship.

When it comes to fabric, I think I am like Will Rogers: never met a fabric, I did not like.  Being a traditional quilter, the historic prints are chosen before the Christmas print fabric with Santa, reindeer and snowflakes.  Don't let me misrepresent myself, if I find a snowflake print or holly which will blend in with any quilt any time of the year, I will choose it.  Let's don't even talk about fabric panels.  Those panels can sure make for an interesting focal point or nice additions to backings.

On cold winter nights, when the wind is howling and the left over leaves are blowing, there is noting like snuggling under a quilt with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Punch Needle

I love punch needle, I'm not very good at it (yet).  I am determined to improve!  Several years ago, my LNS invited Charlotte Dudney to teach a class.  Charlotte shared a brief history of punch needle.  Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use punch needle.  Their needles were hollow bones of birds wings.  During the 15th century, punch needle was referred to as punch stitch.  The technique was used throughout Europe during the Middle Ages to decorate ecclesiastical clothing and panels.  Sailors on long voyages would pass the time punching miniature rugs.  It is the look of a miniature rug which draws me to punch needle.

Charlotte was a great teacher and I learned how to thread an Igolochkoy needle, the importance of having the weavers cloth drum tight in the hook/frame and the amount of fiber used.  Wowozers--punch needle uses copious amount of fibers/threads.  When I learned to punch, the Igolochkoy needles were the only needles available.  They are great for details.  They are small and for myself can be tiring to use.  When the Cameo needles were released I found them to be more to my liking because they are larger (like holding a thick pen or magic marker). and it was easier to select the needle depth (thread height).

One of my challenges with punch needle is getting the weavers cloth drum tight in the hoop/frame.  The Morgan no slip hook with the locking lip is the hoop I have been using.  Recently, I discovered Nistock Farms in Prattsburgh, New York.  Their punch needle frame is made of solid cherry and features Howard Brush gripper strips.  They recently added a turntable which allows the frame to rotate while punching details and curves.

YouTube has several instructional tutorials for punch needle embroidery.  Two of my personal favorites are Brenda Gervais (With Thy Needle and Thread) and Lori Brechlin (Notforgotten Farms).  What did we ever do before YouTube?  When I am stuck on a technique be it punch needle, quilting, or rug hooking, there is a tutorial which guides me step by step.

When I visited Shepherd's Needle in Little Rock, AR in August, Shawn Williams had been at the shop teaching a punch needle class.  Darn, I missed her by one week!  She has some great designs and I am determined to learn to punch those miniature rugs like the sailors of old, my friend Anne and Shawn.

Almost forgot, Lori  (Notforgotten Farm) shared a great tip for using Press and Seal on her blog June 15.  She puts Press and Seal on the front (loop) side of her project to act as a layer between the weavers/loops and the gripper teeth.  The Press and Seal prevents the loops from being pulled out.  Thanks for tip Lori.  Practice makes perfect so I am off to practice and improve my skills until my needle punch looks like one of those miniature rugs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas Preparations

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a penny, then God bless you

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to move at mock speed.  There are parties, dinners, shopping, decorating, wrapping, gift exchanging.  If I am not careful all this can put me into a bah humbug mood and I end up like Scrooge!

Secret weapons for warding off Scrooge
Hot Chocolate or hot caramel apple cider
Music:  Il Divo Christmas, Harry Connick, Jr
Stop Top Potpourri (1/2 cup fresh cranberries, 1 orange slices, 4 cinnamon sticks broken in half, 1 tablespoons cloves, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 2-3 cups water)
Sleeping under a Christmas quilt
Reading/looking at Christmas books
Laughing at the Griswold's in Christmas Vacation

It is hard to be grumpy with hot chocolate or warm cider in my tummy.  The house smells and sounds like Christmas with simmering potpourri and Silent Night softly playing.

Clark Griswold says:  we are going to have the happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye.

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Homespun Gathering Fall 2017

There are special times in life when you think it can't get any better and it does.  This is the case with the Homespun Gatherings.  At the sake of sounding redundant, there is always delicious food, beautiful needlework, inspiration and sharing time with your kindred spirits.

Heartstring Samplery
His Eye is on the Sparrow
Stitched by Jane

An heirloom piece of needlework!  Jane's beautiful execution of tension with her needle and thread is outstanding.  I neglected to ask Jane when she started stitching "sparrow," it is big the colors are rich and it is a piece of needlework which will be treasured by her family.  Jane is an avid gardener and great cook.  Jane was stitching the November word play by With Thy Needle and Thread.

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Sub Rosa
Polly Brown
Stitched by Judy

Another heirloom!  Judy loves stitching big houses and calls herself the youngster of our group.  She may be a youngster in age but this is not reflected in her needlework as she stitches with great execution and skill.  Judy has stitched several large samplers:  Liberty's Welcome, Yuletide Welcome and Ghoultide Welcome by Plum Street Samplers, Christmas Garden by Blackbird Designs, Red House Sampler by Brenda Keys, Christmas at Hollyberry Farms by Stacy Nash and this beautiful Polly Brown by Sub Rosa.  Judy's needle is always busy and she has stitched many other lovely pieces, these are just a few which I have remembered.  Ever the encourager, Judy tells me:  just stitch one needle full of fiber a day and you will make progress.  Judy is working on another big red house: Grateful, Thankful and Blessed by With Thy Needle and Thread--it is a beauty.

Chessie and Me
Club Piece from Country Sampler
stitched by Debby

Look closely at that deer, he is stitched over one.  Can't wait to see how Debby finishes this piece, she is very creative and imaginative with her finishing and framing.  Debby was stitching O Tannenbaum by With Thy Needle and Thread. Several of the group will be stitching this piece and we spent some of the time counting out the layout of the design on 36 ct Legacy by Picture This Plus.  The Santa, the words to Oh Christmas Tree and the sweet sheep all neatly displayed in a shadow box have caused many stitchers to fall in love with this teaching piece from Brenda Gervais.  Like Judy, Debby's needle is seldom idle and am sure she will have this piece finished and ready to share at the next gathering.

Stacy Nash
Country Sampler Club piece
Stitched by Debby

Debby had purchased a beautiful piece of red over dyed velveteen fabric and green silk ribbon for the finishing on this piece.  Hmm, I saw a red sleigh from Target which would be a great compliment piece for displaying this piece of needlework.

Lizzie Kate
To Do List
Stitched by Courtney

Courtney says she will hang this piece of needlework next to her back door so she can read it each morning as she walks our the door to begin her day.  Great words for each of us to practice.

Lucille was knitting, Ruth was stitching a Beatrix Potter baby sampler for a co-worker, Mary was stitching one of the Little House Needleworks Early American Series.  I have retrieved Margaret Cottam by La D Da from my PhD drawer and am determined to get her finished.

Did I mention the food was delicious.  Home baked bread, chicken casserole, corn casserole, cranberry salad, Shepherd's salad, pecan pie and carrots cake.  Yum, Yum--if you walk away hungry  after spending the day with this group, it was your choice.

Thank you Homespun Kindred Spirits for another wonderful gathering.  I am motivated to stitch and have finished projects to share for the first gathering in January 2018.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Cumberland Valley Quilters Association Quilt Show

This past Saturday, November 11, 2017 was the biennial Cumberland Valley Quilters Association Show.  The show was held at the St. Philip Catholic Center on Second Avenue in Franklin.

We arrived late to the quilt show and only had one hour to look at the quilts and shop with vendors.  Translation:  I have no names of the quilts or the quilt makers.  Since I have so very little information about the quilts or the quilt makers, I will fill in the blanks with the history of Franklin.

This was the raffel quilt.  Pretty nice.  I didn't win.

The City of Franklin was founded in 1799 (the same year as M. completed her Ackworth sampler).  The city was named after Benjamin Franklin.  For most of its first 180 years, Franklin was a tranquil small county seat.  In the years prior to the Civil War, Franklin (Williamson County) was one of the wealthiest counties in Tennessee.  Franklin was the center of plantation economy and there are several plantation mansions which survived.

The Civil War devastated the economy.  The Battle of Franklin was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War with more than 8,000 casualties and turning every home and building in town into a hospital.  It took 120 years for the economy to reach pre-war levels.  Today.  Franklin is one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.

Author, Robert Hicks tells the story of Carrie McGavock in his novel, The Widow of the South.  Carnton Plantation where Carrie and her family lived is the setting of the novel and the site of the Battle of Franklin.  Carnton is a short distance from downtown Franklin.  During the battle, Carrie's kitchen was turned into an operating room.  The floor still bears the stains of countless amputations.  When the battle ended, Carrie tended to the sick and dying and became the caretaker of the burial plots and cemetery located a short distance from her house.

Downtown Franklin is the best of both old and new.  There is the 1937 Franklin Theatre and Binks Outfitters on the same block.  Yarrow Acres, Rare Prints Gallery, and Walton's Antique and Estate Jewelry are some of my favorite shops on main.

There are two quilt shops in Franklin:  Quilting Squares and Stitchers Garden.  Both shops carry a wide assortment of Civil War fabrics and teach classes.

Just off Main Street on 4th Avenue South is Merridee's Breadbasket Bakery.  When we are in Franklin, we usually pop in for a fresh baked cinnamon roll or sticky bun.  Delicious!

The downside to Franklin is the traffic and parking.  I much preferred visiting Franklin when it was the quaint little sleepy town which had not been discovered and we could take a walk on the streets and enjoy the carefully preserved and restored homes.

My favorite part about Franklin--the Nashville Needlework Market is held each February/March at the Embassy Suites!  (Franklin is about 20 miles from Nashville)

My one and only purchase, the pattern for this house quilt.  I have always wanted to make a quilt with a house in it and this pattern looked like it was within my skill level.  Oh, that tiny little flag flying from the house is the Tennessee State Flag.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

M Quertier 1799 Debut

M Quertier 1799
Ackworth School
Scarlet Letter
35 count stash linen lambswool?
Gloriana Silk India ink

The chart for M. Quertier 1799 has been in my stitching stash a long time.  M. was one of the first sampler charts I purchased from the Scarlet Letter.  M. is a big girl--she is 11" x 18 1/4" on 35 count linen.  Each time I would browse through my stash, I would say to myself:  "I really like this sampler, I really need to stitch it, it's a Quaker.  What was my reluctance?  I started it once and quickly realized the piece of fabric I had selected was not big enough and also realized M. was a big girl, a big stitch and she would take some time.    

Passion flower motif

Little is known about M. Quertier, I have previously written about her,  The Quertiers were a Channel Island family and M. was admitted to Ackworth as a special case.  My naive heart wants to believe M. was admitted as a special case because she was special.  She was intelligent, had potential and had exceptional needle working skills.  That's my story for M. and I'm sticking to it.

Garland motif with M's initials

There are so many questions I would like to ask M. about her sampler.  How long did it take you to stitch the sampler?  Did you choose/design the motifs or were they chosen and designed y someone else?  Was this a year long teaching project at Ackworth?  The initials MQ are yours, but who do the initials JT, MN, SW and AT belong to?  Were they your friends, your classmates, your teachers, members of your family, neighbors?  Why did you stitch the date 1799 three times?  Were you apprehensive about the turn of the century?  There are three garland motifs with initials, was this one of your favorite motifs?

Carnation motif

M. stitcher her sampler in 1799, my reproduction was stitched in 2017--218 years later.  Will my sampler survive as long as M.'s?  Did M. stitch her sampler outside in natural sunlight, while I stitched mine with cheater glasses and a Dazor light with magnifier?  Did M. do reverse stitching?

Am happy M. is finished and she has a date with the framer.  The Beatrix Potter and the companion sampler to Beatrix Potter are in my stash, they are loudly calling to be stitched.  I need a break from large samplers and Emma Lerch who was pushed to the side while I was stitching on M has been patiently waiting for me to return and finish the stitching on her.  For the remainder of the 2017 I will be working on Emma and smaller pieces before I start another Quaker.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

M Quertier 1799 (the continued saga)

M. Quertier 1799
Ackworth School
Scarlet Letter
mystery stash linen (lambswool?) 36 count
Gloriana India ink
Estimated finished size 18 1/4" x 11"

Am still stitching on the Quaker Sampler.  Three of the inner motifs and the outline of some of the half medallions have been stitched since you last saw M. Quertier.  

Here is what she looked like before the addition of the three inner motifs and the outline of the half medallions in the outer border.  Gosh, does lighting ever factor into photography.  

Swan Medallion

I think the inner medallions are what attracted me to this sampler--they are all so different.

M. stitched the date into her sample three different times.  Wonder if M. and her school mates were as apprehensive about entering a new century as we were when we changed from 1999 to 2000?

One more inner motif and two outer motifs and fill in on six other motifs and M. will be off to the framers.  Do I see the light at the end of the tunnel a finish before years end?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

We Gather Together

Yesterday was the annual fall gathering of the Homespun Reunion Group at the home of Linda Stoltz.  Each fall, Linda graciously welcomes the Homespun group to her home.  Our group is very blessed because not only is Linda a gracious hostess, she is the designer behind Erica Michael's Designs and an outstanding needleworker.  The gathering always begins with hugs, ohhh's and ahhh's and the smell of delicious food.  There is an air of excitement with projects in the works and an exchange of ideas for projects which are in the beginning stages.  Unfortunately, I have photos of completed projects and do not have the name of the design and am unsure of the stitcher.  The above project was stitched by Jacqueline.  Hobby Lobby is one of our favorite shops and she had found a box and mounted the completed piece to the box.

Another one of Jacqueline's pieces.  A beautiful piece for Thanksgiving, fall or any time of the year.

Jane's Lesson One in Abecedarian from Summer Schoolhouse by With Thy Needle and Thread.  Jane had stitched her piece over two on 36 ct linen.

Linda stitched this Blackbird Design piece called Away We Ride.  The bowl is another find from Hobby Lobby.

This wool appliqué block is from the Blackberry Primitives design Castleton.  Linda embellished the blocks with beautiful buttons which had been passed to her from women in her family.

Linda has completed all of the blocks.  She has many commitments on her schedule and says the project will be set aside as she fulfills her commitments.  We are all anxiously awaiting to see this project set together-it is beautiful and has inspired us to dig into our wool bins and begin our own wool appliqué.

Anne's punch needle was inspired by an antique rug she had seen at the Heart of Country Antique Show.  Yes, it is punch needle and looks like a miniature hooked rug.

Lori found this pumpkin frame (I think at Hobby Lobby) and downloaded a freebie design from the Primitive Stitchers website.  Don't you just love the very fall color on the house and smoke coming from the chimney?

Another sweet autumn/fall piece.  I failed to get the name of the design or the stitcher.  Love the way it has been finished.

Delilah adding embellishments to a project bag (which will be gifted to one of her coworkers)

The photo does not even begin to show the true exquisite stitching in this piece.  The designer is Chessie and Me (do not know the name of the design).  The piece is mounted on a beautiful black walnut box which Linda's husband made especially for the piece.

I so overwhelmed with all the completed pieces, I failed to get both the name of the design, the designer and the stitcher.

A Notforgotten Farm design--another whoops on the stitcher.

Delilah's miniature quilt--great selection of colors with the blues and browns.

Judy's needle has been very busy stitching Plum Street samplers--I think she has stitched three.  Dutch Beauty is on her list of future projects.  

Needles were flying, floss was moving from skein into linen and stitchers were doing on line shopping.  The group meets again in November and there were be more beautiful projects for the share table.  Delicious meatballs, a homemade coconut pie and pumpkin dump cake helped us keep our energy level and someone had decorated cookies with a needle pulling thread and cross stitch.  Thank you Linda, for once again opening your home to the Homespun group.  Am already counting down the days until we meet again November 18.