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, December 22, 2010

Happy holidays!

I'm wishing you a new year surrounded by beautiful stitches. I hope you are having a warm holiday in the midst of this cold season (here in the  northern hemisphere). Happy holiday wishes to those of you in the southern hemisphere or the tropics, too.

This is a gold holiday tree (some have thought it a witch's hat. Perhaps I should display it at Holloween as well. ).  My former crazy quilt group members challenged each other to make these back in 2003. It's 2 feet tall. The others were more like 6-10 inches tall.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Amtrak to California

California Zephyr in Grand Junction, Colorado
 What a great trip: cross country by train! I've been home two weeks already, hard to believe.

I left Washington, DC, Union Station at 4:05 pm on August 25 on the Capitol Limited to Chicago. Connected with the Southwest Chief to Los Angeles; Pacific Surfliner to Oceanside, California. Rented a car to visit my friend Ann in Carlsbad. Returned on the Surfliner to Los Angeles; Subway to Long Beach for a stay on the Queen Mary. Then the Coast Starlight to Oakland; Amtrak thruway bus to San Francisco for the Embroidery Guild of America Seminar. Home on the California Zephyr to Chicago and the Capitol Limited back to DC. I love riding the train. These routes have some of the most spectacular scenery to be seen in the country.

I didn't take any pictures while visiting Ann. On the way to Oceanside, though, I took this picture of the ocean with my cell phone and texted it to my son with the message "The Pacific." He returned the following picture with the message, "The Atlantic." Tee hee.

The Pacific

The Atlantic

I absolutely love the Queen Mary! It is so posh and so historical. Lots of exhibits and tours. I took the Ghosts and Legends tour into the bowels of the ship and heard about the ghosts of a girl drowned in the first class swimming pool (no longer in use), workers killed in boiler accidents and sailors killed in a collision during World War II when the Queen Mary was a troop carrier called the Gray Ghost. I went to the Aquarium and browsed a bookstore, but spent most of the time on the ship. The second afternoon I sat in a deckchair and read my novel like a luxury passenger, rather than going back across to Long Beach proper. Sigh!

Queen Mary Hotel

The original passengers could choose fresh
or salt water for bathing

Room had beautiful wood panels and furniture with marble tops

Great tour.

This was my first trip to San Francisco. I did some touring, although not as much as my roommate did. She was Violet Anderson from New Hampshire who I had not met before. We got on famously.  The hotel was within a few blocks of Chinatown, which I shopped twice and of Union Square, meeting place for a walking tour of the Victorian houses that survived the 1906 earthquake. I didn't ride the cable car. They were always way too crowded for me when I was out - lines to board. Seeing them was enough. One evening, in search of a restaurant, Violet and I walked almost all the way up Nob Hill. Puff, puff!

Chinatown in San Francisco

I'll blog about the seminar in a separate post. Loved my classes.

One the way home, I was on the same train with Fern, a friend of Violet's from Massachusetts. We ate breakfast and dinner together with the woman from her adjoining roomette. Good company.

The trains were ahead of schedule mostly except for the Coast Starlight (someone committed suicide by jumping in front of it just as we got close to Oakland) and the California Zephyr after Omaha. How it lost two hours across Iowa and Illinois, I don't know, but I  made my connection.

These memories are more to make me sigh when I hear the train whistles from my office early in the morning. 

For more pictures than you want to see, go to

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stereoscopic Viewing and Reunion

Here I am, still kicking. I know it's been a long time. I want to tell you about this great new book I bought, A Village Lost and Found, by Brian May and Elena Vidal.
When I was a girl, my cousins and sisters loved to view the stereoscopic slides at my Grandma and Grandpa Anderson 's house. They had an extensive set. Nobody knows what happened to them. Sigh! This book reproduces a series of slides taken in the 1850s by T.R. Williams, one of the first developers of the technique. They are "Scenes in our Village," Hinton Waldrist in England. The book comes boxed with a fold-up stereoscopic viewer. Very cool.

Another reason I've been lax in blogging, is I've been busy as registrar for the Mendenhall Family Association reunion 2010 in Mendenhall, Pennsylvania. My great-grandmother was Sarah Ann Mendenhall Mount. I spent the 90s doing a lot of genealogical research and I have attended all five of the Association reunions since 1996. The immigrant Mendenhalls were four Quaker siblings, John, Benjamin, Mary and Margery who came from Wiltshire, England, in the early 1680s. John and Benjamin bought land directly from William Penn or from speculators who did and didn't immigrate. I'm descended from John. In the picture above, I am standing in front of the house in Caln township, Pennsylvania, that was built about 1714 by John's son Aaron, my sixth-great grandfather.
We had good weather, except it was hot, for our three days of tours. Mendenhalls were active in the Underground Railroad, and we saw some of the houses used for hiding fugitive slaves, as well as home sites and meeting houses of the early Mendenhalls. Some current owners of the houses allowed us to tour inside. Very generous. They are proud of the history of their homes and have a challenge preserving them while making them comfortable for modern living. They are all made of native stone, contributing to the beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Turtle Toy

I finished up a crocheted snake toy for my great-grandnephew while I was visiting my daughter's family in April. There is a picture of a crocheted turtle on the same page as the snake pattern and my granddaughter requested the turtle. Here it is in time for her birthday July 7.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Old butterfly pattern used again.

The Holocaust Museum Houston is asking for handmade butterflies to be submitted for an exhibit in 2013 remembering the 1.5 million children who died in the holocaust. My embroidery guild is participating by collecting butterflies made by members and sending them in. I made mine from an old, probably 1960s or 70s pattern I have used in a couple of crazy quilts. It always gets interest from viewers of my quilts, so I used it again, making it about 6 inches (15 cm) square. It is DMC floss on a piece of hand-dyed cotton cloth that was given to me several years ago.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Snake, Pink Garden, Jedi

Oh, how can it be a whole week gone by since I returned from visiting my daughter's family in Maine. Daughter and her husband were very busy with work, so I mostly hung out with my 6-year old granddaughter, Lorelei. What a pleasure. She is an enthusiastic Star Wars fan at the moment. Here she is in Jedi costume. I put a video of her singing "My, my, this here Anakin guy" on facebook if you're inclined to view it.

While there, I finished this crocheted snake for my great-grand nephew Kyan. Crochet is such an easy traveling project compared to cq embroidery. The snake is about a foot (30.5 cm) long.

I have also worked on my Pink Garden wall hanging. The light pink flowers on the left are from instructions in J. Marsha Michler's Motifs for Crazy Quilting; the button flowers above them are vintage buttons from Accessories of Old (now in Frederick, Maryland) and the darker pink flowers on the right are from instructions on Honey Bee Bliss website by Mellissa.

Now this project is not easy to work on while traveling. I need to get some portable ones in progress. I have an idea to make an ABC book on values. For instance, "A is for All of Us. Aren't we awesome!" I have some fabrics cut into 10 inch squares for this and a few ideas sketched in a notebook, but it's not ready for traveling yet.

I have a fair amount of travel on my plate this summer, including a train trip to California for the Embroidery Guild of America National Seminar in San Francisco. That begins September 5, but I'm leaving in August to visit a friend near San Diego and spend a few days in Long Beach, California beforehand. I love traveling by train, especially in a sleeper. Lots of needleworking gets done. At seminar, I'm taking two 2-day workshops in stumpwork by Lynn Payette. One is on a variety of techniques and the second is "California Poppies." There is a picture and discription of it on page 26 of the seminar brochure. I'm looking forward to this. Somehow my interest is tending toward 3-dimensional work as evidenced by the Pink Garden.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Annual Donation Blocks

Each year Kate Hollifield collects crazy quilt blocks to auction during the Crazy Quilt Society Retreat in Omaha to benefit breast cancer research and build the scholarship fund for the retreat. I've sent a block every year, this is the eleventh, I think. This year I sent two, because the first was only partly my work. It was built on a piece I received years ago in a swap from Dorothy Matheson of Austin, Texas. It was a square of luscious, bright aqua blue fabric with an interesting piece of wide lace across it picturing a neighborhood of houses and trees. She embellished the lace with silk ribbon embroidery. I added fabrics and embellishment for the donation block.
I built the second donation block around a piece of crochet I did some time ago in greens. I had great fun using tall stacks of silver beads for hair around a metal face bead on this one.
Kate and Mona in Minnesota assemble several quilts from all the donated blocks in the weeks before the July retreat. Many thanks are due them.
I've never attended the retreat, but enjoy the vib through reports on the Crazy Quilt listserv at Kate posts pictures of the blocks as she receives them on her eboard site. They are all six and a half inch blocks and must be in jewel tones or monotone.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pink Garden Progress

As promised, here are pictures of the orgami flowers along the bottom of the Pink Garden wall hanging. I used a pattern from Flower Origami by Kumiko Sudo. Coincidentally, Kumiko's books have recently been mentioned enthusiastically on the Crazy Quilt International listserve. This is the only book of hers I have. It merits the enthusiasm in my opinion. The flowers are fabic flowers and her instructions are very clear. I haven't been successful following directions for paper orgami, so I appreciate her descriptive skill a lot.
The brown flowers were purchased, made to fuse to fabric. I embellished them with beads. Getting started on this project feels great!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowstorm!! Bracelet Finished.

Got to blog about this record snowstorm for this area. It's being called snowmagedon, snowzilla or snowpocalypse. Over two feet fell from Friday morning until Saturday evening. Electricity went out for about 2 1/2 hours yesterday. My inside temperature fell from 72 to 64 degrees. I had wood in the fireplace for a nice fire in the evening but I didn't light it. Maybe tonight.
This picture is of the path I dug from the back side door yesterday morning. Another 5 or 6 inches fell and I had to dig out again, but it was easier than tackling the caboodle at once. Here's a picture of my backyard at the same time.

There was plenty of light in my studio for stitching and I have a battery operated radio so I could listen to my favorite Saturday NPR programs while the electricity was out. I finished the Jewel of India bracelet started in a class at my local Embroidery Guild meeting last Monday. This was taught by Susan Elliott from an article in the October/November 2004 issue of Beadwork magazine. My finished product sure shows the faults of a first timer. Not smooth on the edges. I do like the look of herrringbone stitch. I don't wear bracelets very often, but I'm thinking of adapting it to crazy quilt embellishment or bead embroidery. It was really fun during the workshop to see the different colors the students used. This pattern lends itself to some beautiful results. I just picked my colors from the 6 colors of delica beads I had in my stash. I was lucky to have four that went well together.
Today the sun is shining and the snow is beautiful. My good neighbors scooped my sidewalk and I snapped this picture of Jocelyn being silly behind the snow in their front yard. I had my fill of snow growing up in Iowa, but this storm somehow has been nice. It makes a cosy break from the routine, it brings people together to deal with it and it's lovely at the moment.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Design Breakthrough: Pink Garden Wallhanging

This design has been in my head for probably two years and I've been collecting things to use on it. It will be a wall hanging for the wall beside my big picture window where I have no drapes. I intend it to be "encrusted"  with 3-D pink flowers to blend colors with my sofa upholstery. I was having trouble with placing a garden path in the design. I couldn't find a route for it I liked. Here's the breakthrough: there will be no path! I like my vision of it now. I've pieced the background. It doesn't look very pink yet. Wait for the flowers.

The piece measures 24x48 inches. As I look at the picture. I see the background is skewed, but I think that will be corrected by the encrusting. The dark part on the upper right and top is mean to indicate a tree branch which will support dangling wisteria. The brown garden bed on the right is smocked, American style. That took a very long time to do. I used a pattern from Artistic Quiltmaker, 1999 by David K Small. (His books are self-published and are no longer in print as his interest has moved on to art quilting and drawing.) And, yes, the bottom of the Pink Garden is not straight. I intend to make a beaded fringe which will be longer on the left to make a straight bottom of the fringe.

I'm currently blessed with a snowstorm yesterday providing two days of free time during which I've made progress on some of the flowers. More on that later.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

I can't believe I've been home five days already and we're four days into the new year and the new decade. I hope it's all good for you.

My holiday trip was a "go with the flow" experience. On the day after the big snow here in DC the Capitol Limited was four hours late out of the city because of frozen switches. It made up time and got me into Chicago in time to make my connection to the California Zephyr, but that too was late, two and a half hours, into Osceola, Iowa. Luckily, it was a window of opportunity for good road conditions. My sister and neice drove 70 miles from Ames to pick me up.

Then it was snow and ice off and on until it, luckily again was clear roads when I came back on the 29th. We were only able to gather about a third of the expected family for the celebration: those south and east of Ames. What with weather and stomach flu, I didn't see any of my little grand-neices and nephews while I was there. The youngest was aged seventeen. I did have a good time with those I did see, though.

Coming home was a bit of an ordeal. The California Zephyr was four hours late and didn't make it to Chicago for my connection. So they unloaded us at Galesburg, Illinois, (I found this photo by Stephen J. Brown online of the Zehpyr in Galesburg in a nicer season) and put us on a Trailways bus to Indianopolis, Indiana, to catch the Cardinal to DC. The bus was tight seating, they ran movies with no personal headphones so I had to block out the sound while reading and the only food was a brief stop at McDonald's during the six hour drive. Luckily I had a Zone bar in my purse. The Cardinal has a wonderful scenic route through the New River valley in West Virginia. This picture was taken at Thurmond, West Virginia, through a dirty window. I somehow didn't get a picture of the actual river, which is renowned for white-water rafting. I enjoyed  the scenery, but didn't enjoy trying to sleep in coach because there were no available sleepers on the train. I got home at 9:30 pm on the 30th instead of 1:00 pm as scheduled.

I hope this story doesn't discourage anyone from train travel. It would have been much worse to be stranded in an airport or trying to drive through all that.

I always take needlework with me. This time I finished a crocheted toy train engine for my great-grand nephew Sam. Isn't it something that steam engines are still popular toys and stories fifty years after they were replaced by diesel! A diesel engine just doesn't have the same character. I used a free pattern from Irka in Argentina.