This Blog

This is a blog to show off my needlework, mainly crazy quilting, beading and crochet. It makes me happy to create these things and even more happy to share the fun with friends. Pictures of my beading projects are at

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hello, Viking!

It's the simplest Husqvarna Viking sewing machine and it's come to live at my house. What happened to my fifty year old Singer is a sad example of my incorrigible flakiness. I took out the bobbin and it's holder to rewind it. I walked across the room to get a spool of thread. When I returned, the bobbin holder was not to be found. It's got to be in this room or else aliens from another dimension have it. It's been 6 months at least and I haven't found it, so I've put the Singer aside with regret and brought a Viking into the house. I'm hoping it can ward off the aliens.

 This post is to show you what I have created trying out the machine: place mats.  True to my crazy quilting love, they are crazy pieced using the layer cake "stack and whack" method. I made eight mats, eight layers of fabric to stack and whack. After all the whacked pieces were sewn together and layered with a piece of interfacing, and  a backing fabric placed right sides together on the top, I sewed around the edges, leaving an open space to turn the mat right side out. After ironing each mat neatly, I used the machine feather stitch to decorate each seam and, at the same time quilt the mat. I finished the whole with a machine scalloped satin stitch around the edge. The machine works very nicely and I'm pleased with my set of eight new place mats.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Surprised by needlework on a family reunion tour

This weekend I was in High Point, North Carolina for a reunion of the Mendenhall Family Association. When I was actively doing family research, I followed the line of my great-grandmother, Sarah Ann Mendenhall Mount, and found other Mendenhall researchers. I was a charter member of the Association when it formed and have attended all seven reunions held.

The Mendenhall's were among the first to buy property from William Penn in his new American land grant named Pennsylvania. Four siblings, John, Benjamin, Margary (Martin) and Mary (Newlin) moved there in 1684. I'm descended from John and his grandson James, who in 1862 moved to Guilford County, North Carolina, where many Pennsylvania Quakers migrated and settled. They were millers, farmers and very active in education. The little town of Jamestown near High Point was named for James. His grandson Richard built a plantation house there which is on the register of historic places and was on our reunion tour, along with three local Quaker meeting houses and Guilford College.

Okay, I'm getting to the needlework. There is a tiny little museum at the plantation containing some artifacts of the time period (late 1700s-early 1800s). First thing that caught my eye was this stunning dress.

I don't know if this was worn by Quakers; they did sometimes dress less plainly than commonly thought, but this is very "not plain." Here are some close ups of the lace and embroidery trim.
The pretty coverlet is in a case.
In another building on the site, there was a poster display about Quaker dress, which had these two interesting photos.
We then moved on to the Springfield Meeting House which maintains a larger museum of period artifacts. Here is a Quaker wedding dress.
Plain, but lovely. And there are these two other examples of nice needlework in the museum.

What fun to find such unexpected and lovely needlework on a family history tour. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Big Honkin Needle Circle finished

I've been working slowly lately, but have finished the circle part of my quilt from the Betty Pillsbury workshops.
I continued the pansy theme with a beaded pansy from a pattern in The Beaded Garden by Diane Fitzgerald, Interweave Press LLC, 2005. I also titled the block "Big Honkin' Needle" because that is Betty's term for the size chenille needle needed to work with chenille. It's a size 14. I used it for the chenille flower inside the heart on the left.

Betty is, besides a crazy quilter, a herbalist. During informal discussion at the workshop, cleavers was mentioned. It's an interesting plant that makes tea said to aid weight loss. I pulled out my Petersen's Guide to Edible Wild Plants and used the line drawing of cleavers there to add a picture of it to the block.

I added a third dragonfly; this one with woven picot wings and a couple of 7 mm silk ribbon pansies.

I plan to set this circle into an asymmetrical border, inspired by a couple of Betty's quilts she had on display during the workshops. I'm putting it aside for now, though. I'm feeling the pull of my Pink Flower Garden quilt UFO. It's a big one and I plan to work on it until I get bored, then take up my CQJP blocks again. Follow your bliss.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Big Honkin' Needle

My local Embroidery Guild of  America (EGA) chapter (Constellation, Baltimore, Maryland) last week hosted two crazy quilt workshops by Betty Pillsbury. I was especially happy about this because I had gone to workshop Betty gave at the Adventure in Crazy Quilting retreat in Connecticut in 2011. She is good: clear instructions, interesting projects and fun. It was there we first heard her refer to using a "big honkin' needle" for embroidering with chenile thread. We used it again at the Constellation chapter workshops.

The first workshop was entitled "Motifs from Antique Crazy Quilts." Betty has a wonderful collection of antique crazy quilts from which she selected three to teach. I might have named this class "honkin' big motif" because they were, at 4x6 inches and 5x7 inches, way bigger than I have used on my quilts. After this class I will think bigger.

The first motif was a sprig of goldenrod worked in chenile on velveteen using our "big honkin' needles."

We were supposed to use silk chenile thread for this, but it was somewhat hard to find and I used rayon. It is a flat thread, whereas silk puffs out around the whole center. I like the way the rayon looks fine, but you can see the difference by looking at the lemon colored french knots in the lower center of the motif. These are in silk thread I got from a friend.

A second motif was also done on velveteen, a palette.

The flower on this is made with wired ribbon

Third was a pansy made of silk dupioni with ribbon stem and leaf.
I worked this on a crazy quilted 15" diameter circle I made up for use in the class.


This is it after the work from the second workshop entitled "Notebook Sampler." Here are the motifs made in this workshop:

A 3" flower made from silk essense fabric.
A 2 1/2" pansy  made from wired ribbon.
Two flowers with  needlewoven petals and two beaded dragonflies.
The green dragonfly is from a kit Betty provided.
Spiderweb made with metallic machine embroidery thread and 2 bullion roses.
These were two wonderful days of learning and fun with friends.