Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas decorating.

I spent a weekend machine quilting my Santa quilt. I enjoyed every minute working on this piece. It's not from a cute Santa pattern, it's from my dear friends hearts and hands.

There are a lot of fun embellishments on the blocks.
My moon block has a vintage brooch pinned at the end of his hat, shining like a star!

A wonderful tin lantern lights the way.

Needle felted fur and buttons.

Wool trees and needled felted snow.

My husband and I took the grandsons to Fredrick Meijer Gardens to enjoy the start of the Christmas season. They have 40 trees from all over the world each decorated with traditional ornaments and the folklore stories of each country. Love that.
The long entrance way was decorated with hanging grapevine orbs woven with little lights.

Some were tucked in between white birch sticks.
The whole grounds were lit up. Night time would be magical.

In the large conservatory they had fresh cut cedar trees with a large train running through the different "rooms".

Hand made buildings made from natural twigs, nuts, acorns etc.

Most of the buildings were replicas of the buildings in Grand Rapids.

The grandsons.

This palm tree is decorated with traditional made lights from the Philippines.

Not to bore you with all the trees:)
This Ukraine tree is decorated according to their folklore story.  A family was so poor they could not afford to decorate their tree. When they went to bed the spiders wove webs throughout the tree. The next morning when the Sun shone on it, the webs turned to silver and gold.

Wonderful hand woven Kente and batik cloth represented the country of  Uganda.
Well, it's off to decorate my own house with our own family traditions and folklore!
I hope you enjoy decorating yours.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


After about a week of soaking in the vinegar/poke berry dye I washed out the fabrics. This is the wool! I could not believe how purple it dyed. I washed it with Ivory dish soap, I'll watch it for a year and see how the color holds.

This is the raw silk. It had color when it was soaking but then it disappeared.

I wanted to show you a picture of my blanket flowers (gaillardia) still blooming in November! These flowers are planted in crappy soil by my mailbox, they don't get a whole lot of watering and have been blooming since June! I highly recommend them for the little care they need, long blooming time and the wonderful blue dye the flowers give.

Last week it was off to our annual quilt camp. 10 whole days of friendship, food, fabric and lots of inspiration.

Our makeshift studio looks over the lake.

My friend Deb C. (over the past months) hand pieced this wonderful "hexi" quilt.
She will be putting it in a rustic frame. I couldn't leave home without picking these last flowers of autumn.

Two Christmas's ago my quilt bee exchanged Santa blocks. A few of us added one more Santa exchange, one member appliqueing a sleigh. I also appliqued some wool reindeer and trees blocks. I put it all together at camp.

Of course I had to make a moon Santa.
There are a lot of embellishments on the blocks. I needle-felted fur on some of the Santa's caps,

snow on the trees and in the sky.

Sequins, buttons and glass beads were stitched on by the makers.
The plan is I will machine quilt it this weekend.

My friend Kay had us put her Santa's on black backgrounds. Hers is almost all put together, one more block then borders.

I added wool borders and linen rick rack to this wall hanging.
I'll hand quilt it. I can't imagine not, I dyed the wool with natural dyes, many of them I grew or picked from the wild. Designed and hand appliqued the piece, I think it might be illegal not to hand quilt it:)

This is one of the original cottages on the lake, very old with a out house in the back. It is so charming up close, many of the leaded glass windows are boarded up. I've been wanting to take a picture of it with a quilt piece from the week displayed on it.

This little heart seemed to fit right in the window perfectly.
I hand stitched this scissor/ needle keeper, it took 10 hours of stitching.
The front of the heart is cotton velvet.

The lining is Liberty of London fabric with wool pin keepers.

My girlfriend's daughter came to spend a couple days with us and piece herself a Christmas quilt.
Her mother (and my good friend) passed away when Vicky was 13. My daughter and her were practically raised together.
After she graduated from college (with 2 master degrees all on her own), she began finishing up her mothers quilts. She's a perfectionist and does a wonderful job.

Her Grinch quilt.

After 10 days our last sunset.

I put my "super moon" together.
Hand sashiko stitched with antique and vintage Japanese fabric.
I will hand quilt this piece also.

And the next night the real Super Moon over the last of the Autumn leaves.

Last night was Herb Society, November is always our Harvest pot luck, while we ate and shared we made these cute corn husk dolls for our holiday center pieces.

Friday, October 21, 2016


A few weeks ago I picked a bag of polk berries. (The berries are poisonous to humans). I usually never fool around dyeing with berries as they change color and fade quickly. But after reading of different techniques I thought I'd try.
After picking the berries I froze them.
They say to have a long lasting dye to mordant the fabric with vinegar not alum, and mordant right before dyeing.
I simmered a piece of wool and a piece silk fabric an hour and half in a pot with approximately 1 gallon of  water and 1 cup of white vinegar.

That evening was Herb Society meeting at one of our members house. I demonstrated dyeing in a pumpkin cauldron. Being our herbal Halloween meeting I don't think an ordinary pot would work!
Before the meeting I cleaned out the pumpkin (toasting the seeds in the oven for the grandkids, placing them on a cookie sheet with a little melted butter and sprinkling on a seasoned salt, 325 degrees until crisp).
At the meeting I placed the thawed berries in the pumpkin, squished them thoroughly, poured in 1 1/2 gallons of hot water and 3/4 cup of vinegar in, stirred well and added in the fabric.

Some of the members are knitters and weavers so they will strain out the seeds before adding the yarn.

I saw this pumpkin idea on Pinterest and knowing I didn't want to cook the berries this was the perfect pot.

We always have lots of goodies.

A wonderful punch, apple cider and vanilla ice cream whipped together with pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top.

Back home I'm leaving it as long as it doesn't get moldy.
The vinegar should help lengthen the time. Right now it smells like wine,

and looks like a dripping bloody pumpkin. That ought to give the trick or treaters a scare:)

My husband and I went to visit our friends on the Mississippi, she gave me this wonderful bird bath sculpture she made,

filled with an bowl, sea shells, broken tiles an old handles.
I love it, thank you Donna. Next summer I'll have it on a cement pedestal.

This is our grandsons dog dressed up for Halloween,
a lady bug or

a bumble bee!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Signs of Fall

For the final study of Capisicum pepper, (herb of the year), my Herb society group learned how to make a hot pepper ristras. The best kind to use for this  is thin skinned cayenne peppers. They will dry well without getting moldy inside.

A beautiful selection for everyone.
We used disposable gloves, fishing line and a large needle to string them.

We tied a raffia bow on the top.

Even if you use green peppers they will turn red as they age.
Through out the next year these will be ready to cut and use in your favorite dishes.
This is Denise with her flower dyed scarf from last meeting.

Homemade salsa with peppers was enjoyed with the rest of the snacks.

And of course a fall punch was made with cinnamon sticks, cloves, apple cider etc. We have the best Herb Society.

A first birthday present for my grand niece.

Wish I could say I knit it but no I bought it at the Farmers market from the knitter.

ArtPrize is here. For the past 10 years or so Grand Rapids, Mi. has hosted a international Art Show. Artists are represented from all over the world. The whole city becomes a art gallery, inside buildings and out along the streets. I spent a day hiking around the city enjoying the art especially the textile art.
I loved this piece, a traditional rug woven in a non-traditional way.

This is the artist name and her country she is from.

A couple of days later I read that her rug was picked by the jurors as one of the finalists for the $200,000 prize! I love to see textiles in the same category as fine art.
2 years ago a large, large pictorial quilt of the Sleeping Bear Dunes won the grand prize.

Another textile piece from Poland.
This piece was knitted from flax cord,

into a very organic looking piece.

A needle felted piece of the North.

Love this cement sculpture.

This was displayed in the entrance of a high end hotel. The winged horses  were magical.

Their shape is made only with individual wires hanging from the ceiling.

This was the entrance at Fredrick Meijer gardens and sculpture garden where there were more art pieces.

I think this was my favorite "sculpture" there.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo