Quilts for Sale

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Itching to Stitch

Matthew's college quilt - 1999
Here it is draped over my new cutting table.

The replaced triangle is marked with a pin.

The aqua fabric next to the red pin came from a shirt Matthew wore in third grade. It has appeared in several quilts.

I've been itching to stitch and find I become anxious and unsettled without a project. Since completing two full-size quilts this year I've been in limbo. Having spent such long periods working on them, I haven't really thought about "what's next?" Just in the knick of time, the kids came to my rescue! Two quilts I'd stitched for our son Matthew were in need of repair.

His going away to college quilt, a twin-sized hidden stars design, had somehow lost a piece of fabric. That was a fun and easy fix. After taking out a bit of the machine quilting to give easier access to the seam allowances, I replaced some of the batting and stitched a replacement fabric using a reverse applique' technique. All that remains is to fill in the machine quilting and do minor repair on the binding. It felt good to sit and sew for just a few minutes.

I really enjoyed looking at all the fabrics used too. It is not quite a charm quilt (where no fabric is used more than once) but I tried my best. At one point I resorted to cutting up the ironing. Used in the piece were vintage and Japanese fabrics, repurposed shirts, aprons and linens, bark cloth, hand-dyes as well as quilting cottons.

The second quilt will be a bit more complicated. The shoo-fly design is the second quilt I ever made and was created when Matthew was three.

I stitched the date - 1982 - in the border.

Being a 'newbie' quilter, I merely brought the backing fabric to the front and stitched it down. This fraying shows why a double binding is so important in extending the life of a quilt.

The second problem is a hole which goes all the way through to the back. It looks as if the quilt caught on something.

A good sized piece of the original calico was pulled from the 'donate' box at the last minute this summer. I remember thinking, "You may need that one day." Who knew?

Although this quilt was never exhibited, it did have a hanging sleeve. Removed, it provided enough of the original muslin for the repair. I've been thinking about the best restoration method and will remove and replace one triangle and a section of sashing. I'll also add a new binding - properly done this time!

Note: I was amazed at how little fading there has been on this quilt despite several washings and repeated use. The dyes in textiles made in North Carolina nearly 30 years ago were far superior to those used overseas today, IMHO.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Bees Knees

A few years ago I fell on a plane. Yes, they wanted me to see a doctor but I was rushing to a family funeral. The injury to my left knee was very painful and became increasingly worse. I was able to be wheeled to a rental car and make the 100 mile drive to my sister's, but was not able to get out of the car. So I called her from my cell. My nephew and BIL were able to roll me into the house on an office chair. It was a sight to behold. Believe me.

With rest and care, my knee eventually got better. But if I'm not careful, it will go out as they say in the south. A couple of months ago it decided to do just that. But this time it not only went out, the pain caused me to fall down. Not a good thing - but it did keep me off the treadmill at rehab for a couple of mornings.

My primary care doctor, guessing I had a torn meniscus, decided it was time for me to see an orthopedist. That was in early November. My appointment was not until today.

I arrived 30 minutes early only to find the doctor was running over an hour late. When it was finally my turn, both my knee and right hip were x-rayed. I was then seen by three different doctors who pronounced me fine - no abnormalities found. Well, people who know me well would disagree with that!

So what caused all the pain? I was told we can sometimes just twist a little bit wrong and pull part of the knee. I was also told that, given enough time, a torn meniscus will heal itself. Now that's news I could have used BEFORE the appointment! If it happens again? Buzz right over for a cortisone shot! And my hip? It is assumed the pain is coming from a ruptured disc suffered nearly 20 years ago!

Good grief! I feel as if I wasted my entire morning and the doctors' too. I'm going to rely on home remedies only for my joints: RICE - rest, ice, compression and elevation. I'm going to heal myself!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Moravian Sugar Cake

The beautiful Moravian star is reflected in a window
of Peace Moravian Church

Photo credit: Bill Guerrant

Grandmother Crouse's Moravian Sugar Cake

I've had requests for the sugar cake recipe. This is from my DH's grandmother whose family has been Moravian for generations. Grandmother Crouse's home in Old Salem (NC) stood until recently when it caught fire during renovation.

1 C. hot mashed potatoes*
1 package yeast
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. shortening
4 T. butter
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 C. flour**


2 C. brown sugar

Mix sugar, butter, shortening, salt and potatoes. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 C. warm water and add to potato mixture. Set this aside and allow to rise until spongy. Add slightly beaten eggs. Add flour to form soft dough. Put dough in clean, greased bowl, cover bowl with saran and allow to rise overnight or at least 5 hours. Spread out evenly on flat, greased pans after kneading (stirring) slightly. When dough is light, make depressions in it for butter and brown sugar. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake in 350-375 oven about 20 minutes. Makes three Baker's Secret pie pans.

I use a Kitchenaid mixer when making this, with the regular wire beaters for the first step. Switch to the dough paddle when adding the flour.

*I use an old-fashioned potato ricer rather than a masher
**I get a much softer, moister product with a soft flour such as White Lily. Gold Medal is too heavy.
***I like to mix the cinnamon in with the brown sugar before sprinkling it on the dough. Drizzle butter which has been melted and cooled somewhat over the cinnamon/sugar.

Speaking of Pillows

I once bought a redwork embroidered quilt top which had been used as a drop cloth. Yes, you read it correctly, a drop cloth. At the time, redwork was all the rage. I was stunned that the cloth had been so disrespected. Cutting carefully, I was able to salvage most of the motifs. Many of the larger ones were sold. I kept these wise owls as they reminded me of those we had in our barn when I was a kid. Keeping watch from their small pillow, I hope they'll impart wisdom to my design efforts!

To view redwork designs and read about its history, go to:
http://www.quiltbus.com/redwork.htm or

Christmas Pillow

My Mother was working on a sampler quilt at the time of her death. As many of my readers know, I finished the quilt for my sister Sue. Amongst the patchwork blocks was one Mother had quilted in the whole cloth manner. This block, being so different from the others, was not included in the quilt. Instead, I made it into a pillow as a Christmas gift for Sue. Here it is shown on my old Windsor chair - recently painted red. Be sure to click on the image for a closer view.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Treasured Friends

Ann and Jeannine enjoy moist, hot towels after Christmas dinner.

Instead of being empty nesters yesterday, we were joined by two long-time friends. It was an absolute delight to have them here. Hours of great conversation, laughs and old stories filled our evening.

Sometime during dinner, talk turned to W. C. Fields, fingerbowls and hot towels after dining. In a moment of spontaneity, I had fun preparing the latter for Ann and Jeannine. It really is a lovely tradition even if I didn't dip the cloths in lemon water before heating them!

As Ann plans a trip to Ukraine in the next year, my DH decided to introduce her (and the rest of us) to part of its culture - primarily unending toasts followed by shots of very strong vodka. Out came a bottle he'd been given on his last visit there. Yowza!!! We were all introduced to hot red pepper Ukrainian vodka. Double yowza!!!!! Not for the faint of heart, it is definitely an acquired taste.

Hot pepper Ukrainian vodka.

A close-up of Cyrilic on the label.

Christmas with the Kids

Suzie, Matthew and Darby

We had an early Christmas with the kids as they were with Suzie's family yesterday. Beginning with lunch at P. F. Chang (divine!) we enjoyed a lovely, relaxing day. It was so nice to have time in which to visit! The hours passed too quickly and it was time to drive home. As we entered uptown Charlotte, we had an unexpected treat of seeing a caravan of 75 cars, each mounted with a lighted electric menorah on the roof along with the words "Happy Chanukah." We opened our windows to hear Klezmer music coming from the car radios. What fun!

Darby yawns, as if to say, "Why won't these people go home?"

Old Traditions Revived

After much discussion about whether "to faux or not to faux" my DH and I decided it just wouldn't be Christmas without a real tree. We were late in getting it, and compromised on a much smaller and skinnier version than usual. Even though we were only able to fit one container of vintage ornaments on it, we think it is pretty. We're both much happier having the lovely glow of a Christmas tree in our home.

Our tree.

Feather tree ornaments are stored in recycled egg cartons.

I've been collecting vintage Christmas tree ornaments for nearly 40 years. My love of them began when we were given several fragile, very old ones which had belonged to my husband's grandmother. I remember bubble lights and decorations such as bottle brush trees from the 1940's and '50's , but I had never seen anything like the early 20th century German treasures. I was completely captivated!

Always a lover of "things old" I added vintage ornaments to a mental list of sought after items. Over the years I was able to find them at garage and estate sales, thrift stores and flea markets. Some were purchased a box at a time; others were selected individually. Soon, I had more than I could possibly use. The collection was culled and several sold. I do wish I'd kept more of the old Shiny Brite boxes - so in demand now.

I still have a large collection of vintage Christmas items. My favorites are papier mache' Santas, bottle brush trees, figural bulbs, bisque snowbabies I lucked upon in VA, snowmen and lights of all kinds. These include the colored pointy ones - you know the kind, where if one bulb goes the whole string goes. My son and I spent an entire evening testing bulbs - sorting the non-working from the good. Because these bulbs get very hot, my DH wired a special dimmer switch on an extension cord which not only cuts down on the heat but also extends the life of the bulb.

These lights are very hard to find now. I was quite surprised to see even non-working bulbs selling on eBay last year.

On Christmas Eve I began thinking about breakfast the next day. Our meal on Christmas in the past was always bacon, coffee, orange juice and Moravian sugar cake. This seemed the year for reviving that tradition also. As were were attending love feast that evening, I set about making the sugar cake that afternoon. Sugar cake is actually a yeast bread containing potatoes. It has to rise at least five hours but preferably overnight.

Our two largest bowls were used for the sugar cake dough. As our kitchen is cold, they were placed in the oven (with the light on) and left to rise overnight.

Depressions are made in the soft dough after it is spread into shallow pans. Brown sugar and cinnamon are sprinkled on top before being drizzled with butter. After a second rise, the cakes are baked. The aroma is heavenly!

Six sugar cakes were baked Christmas morning. We enjoyed our traditional Moravian breakfast with real bacon - a special treat for such a special day. How decadent!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

My parents' wedding picture -
Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is an especially emotional time for me. Hearing a child's clear voice singing "Morning Star, O cheering sight! Ere Thou cam'st how dark earth's night" at our Moravian church's Love Feast evokes memories of our son singing the same sweet song when he was in first grade.

Christmas Eve also marks the anniversary of my parents. They were married in the parsonage of the Methodist Church in DeKalb IL with my aunt Alda and uncle Floyd as witnesses. A newspaper society page noted, "The bride wore one of the new smart tweed suits and a corsage of Talisman roses. Christmas carols were played on the organ." After my father died, the beautiful Silent Night always brought my mother to tears.

Both have been gone for many, many years. I still miss them more than I could ever have imagined. They were quite a couple - devoted to each other for nearly 50 years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mighty Dog


Doesn't she look innocent? Film at 11.

Dec. 20: Numa has nearly recovered from her mighty dog adventure. Earlier this week while enjoying her afternoon in the sun, she was distracted by a cat. Following her natural instincts to rid her area of the creature, she took off running at a very fast pace. Slight problem: she was on a yard chain at the time. But nothing was going to stop her from her mission!!! At a whopping 50 pounds, she was able to snap the 100 pound collar, hurling ID and rabies tags everywhere. My DH found her in the neighbors back yard, barking loudly.

Numa cut the pad of her right rear paw. But with antibiotic creams and rest, it has healed well. And the lost tags? Found about 20 feet from where her collar lay.

Mighty dog is now wearing a much stronger collar guaranteed not to snap. I'm just a tad skeptical, as Numa can pull me off my feet if I'm not paying attention. And I'm considerably more than 100 pounds!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I DID IT!!!!!

Check it out! I made it through 12 weeks of cardiac rehab. It was not easy getting up at 6:15 three mornings a week and going out into the cold. But I stuck with it and am 20 pounds lighter as a result. I've just signed on for another 12 weeks, as I'm not yet disciplined enough to be set free.

Going to class has become part of my routine even though I'd like to stay in bed on cold, rainy mornings. Each participant has the same goal - to stay healthy and prevent further heart problems. There's a great camaraderie and sense of belonging.

We all benefit from having medical supervision at all times. Each session begins with a blood pressure check and weigh-in. Heart rates are monitored throughout and a mini-EKG done following time on the treadmill. Three cardiac RNs are with us and watchful for any problems. Our physical workouts are supplemented by education about cardiac issues as well as time with a registered dietician. I'm so fortunate to have this program available to me.

The RNs had fun by dressing up on Halloween. They are:
Shelly as Sarah Palin, Andrea and Alisen as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Jackie as an elegant black cat, and Jay as the third TMN Turtle.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


My late father-in-law gave me this old wooden bowl many years ago. My SIL tells me it was his very favorite salad bowl. Lined with protective plastic wrap, it made the perfect holder for evergreens and Nandina berries - a simple but lovely centerpiece.

Tom, Ellen, Mary Moon, Hugh, Betsey, Bill
The quilt in the wing chair was the first one my Mother ever made.
It was quilted by her grandmother between 1932 and 1935.

We had a great time last night while hosting a chili supper for my DH's brother Tom, sister Betsey and their spouses. It's such a blessing to have Bill's family right here. My family is all far away and I miss them terribly.

Conversation focused on what's new with the children and grand children. All are well and most live in Charlotte. When talk turned to Christmas we were stunned to learn all three families were thinking of not putting up a tree this year. Good grief! Will we really go through with it? Is this a trend, or is it unique to our family?

My DH makes divine chili! We serve it over rice with a choice of toppings: grated cheese, no fat sour cream, green onions, etc. Our next door neighbor, who turned us on to the rice and condiments idea, adds Fritos also. A large green salad, garlic bread and apple pie (I had just a taste) rounded out our meal. Yum! And I'm really glad I did not have to weigh in at cardiac rehab this morning!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

To Faux .................or Not to Faux

Last year's tree.

We're hosting a Chili supper Wednesday night for my DH's brother and sister and their spouses. We'll need the dining room table for that. The biggest flat surface in the house currently serves as a desk for my husband, a temporary (?) holding area for my paperwork, mostly medical, and a depository for anything else needing a home. But since we'd used the table just nine days ago for Thanksgiving, clearing it wasn't that difficult. Mission accomplished, I then tackled the mystery corner by the piano.

We thought we were going to have a garage sale last summer. But I had a heart attack instead. So, there were several overflowing boxes which had been sitting in the dining room for so long I no longer even noticed they were there! Now that's disturbing. Not surprisingly, I was able to part with at least half the stuff which went to donation heaven. I kept one small box of merchandise to sell on ebay and just one container of garage sale items.

Once the boxes were gone, I saw how horrible the floor looked. I'm not sure what happened or when, but most of the finish was gone. Down on my hands and knees, I applied my standard fix for worn and scratched wood - Old English Scratch Cover. Amazing stuff. I'll let it sit for at least 24 hours before wiping off the excess.

I also gave our old 19th century upright piano, purchased for me by my father when I was just 10 years old, the Old English treatment. What a difference!

With most of the house picked up, my DH and I got into decorating mode. Should we walk down to the corner for a tree? All day long we had watched trucks and cars, trees strapped to their roofs, head up our street. Knowing how much time I spend decorating a tree, I quickly calculated the number of hours between now and Wednesday. "How about getting a pre-lit artificial tree this year?" I suggested. Uh oh. DH is not going for it. "I really like the smell of the balsam," he said. To faux or not to faux? Decision deferred.

Instead, DH took it upon himself to get our window lights installed. That job always takes awhile, as we have lots of windows and not many outlets. This translates to power strips, adaptors and lots of extension cords. Our dormers are lit also, and a spotlight illuminates our blue front door. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Spirit of Song

Dr. David Tang, Conductor of VOX

Above all else, I love music. Nothing touches my soul like song. When I was in school, I participated in all things musical - mixed chorus, A'Capella choir, Madrigal singers, girls' chorus, girls' quartet and music camp. I studied classical piano for 10 years but alas never learned to chord and cannot play by ear.

My husband is also a great lover of music. He once played a mean trombone and participated in the Myers Park High School orchestra. He also sings very well but will not admit it. He really should be in a choir somewhere. But the point of this narration is not to tell you our personal experiences so much as to note (pun intended) that we have a great appreciation for fine music.

Charlotte is a city full of great music of many types. Today we attended a noonday concert of the VOX (Latin for voice) Choir conducted by Dr. David Tang. Also featured were members of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and the chorus from the Northwest School of the Arts. The music was pure perfection, especially the stunningly beautiful finale' - Oh Holy Night with both choirs, the orchestra, piano and orchestra. The audience was emotionally moved and on its feet at the conclusion. What a glorious event!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Special Birthdays

Today is the birthday of our godchildren. Bill is godfather to his nephew Chip while I'm the godmother of my niece Kari. I think it's unusual that each of us has a godchild born December 4.

I'll add photos tomorrow if I can find them amongst the plunder here.


Well Looky Here

November 2008 American Quilter magazine
featuring Ruth McDowell

While I was browsing through the latest American Quilter magazine, something caught my eye. Pictured on the subscription renewal insert was the spring 2007 issue on which I was pictured. What fun! It's almost like being on the cover twice!

The subscription renewal card on which I'm pictured.
It can be seen in my right-hand side bar.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New York Beauty Quilt - Second Try

In spite of the very best intentions, the long-arm quilter to whom I'd taken the New York Beauty quilt was unable to do the work. She's dealing with the recent loss of her son who died just over three months ago. It was impossible for her to take on such a major project at this time. I can't imagine such sorrow and my heart goes out to her.

I contacted an Amish quilter my youngest sister had met and used. Sylvia Petersheim agreed to hand-quilt the piece for me. I spent a couple of days working out the quilting design before shipping everything to Bird-In-Hand PA. (Actually, my DH was kind enough to do this for me.) The motifs I drew were inspired by research done on the internet, as I'd donated all my quilting design books during my recent studio purge - thinking I'd never use them again. Well, who knew?
Thursday note: My sister tells me Mrs. Petersheim is Mennonite. But I think her quilters are Amish.

A Superior Threads King Tut variegated thread from Sue Nickels will be used for the quilting; the batt will be a soft bamboo and cotton. Both products are new to this group of Amish quilters. I'm so hoping they'll enjoy using them.

My great-grandmother, Flora Ellen Lewis Darnell, made this Double Wedding Ring quilt in the 1930's. It belongs to my sister Patty who had it hand-quilted by Sylvia Petersheim.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Late Post About Thanksgiving

Matthew and Suzie share a sweet moment before dinner.

We had a glorious day with the kids Thursday. Our best times are always with family. Matthew and Suzie came down from Greensboro laden with a delicious butterscotch pie, green bean casserole, corn casserole, home made applesauce and wine. Bill roasted a beautiful bird and grilled a lovely piece of salmon for Suzie. To that were added dressing, gravy, two kinds of potatoes (mashed and sweet), cranberries, lime salad, rolls, relishes and pumpkin pie. Delish!

When I was a kid, there were special foods reserved just for holidays. Real butter, green and ripe olives were served only at those times. Ours was a very frugal farm family and these treats were expensive. I've continued the tradition somewhat. Sweet Midgies (why don't they change this politically incorrect name?), Matthew's favorite pickle, and ripe olives are not on our weekly grocery list.

For our turkeys, we always use the vintage 'Savory Roaster' which once belonged to my Aunt Esther. Dressing is baked in a pan and not in the bird.

We'd planned to take a family photo (sans dogs who will be PhotoShopped in later) while the kids were here. The afternoon sunshine enticed us to head to Freedom Park where we walked off a few calories, watched the Canadian geese, enjoyed visiting with others out for a stroll and took lots of pictures.

Goosey Gander

The water was a beautiful color in the late afternoon.

Suzie and Matthew were the official photographers for the day.

Suzie gets a close-up of Matthew.
Check Suzie's new wedding photography website: http://philipsuzanne.com/

Matthew shoots a father/son self-portrait.

Suzie and Bill check a possible photo site for our family portrait.

They were fascinated by the cloudy/misty grass found there.

It had such an ephemeral quality.
Click on photo for a closer view.

Pictures taken, we headed home for pie and lounging. The kids and Numa, their dog we're keeping for a while, snuggled on the sofa. As you can see from the picture, Numa misses them and they her.

The eyes have it!

The day was over much too soon and the kids headed home. We are so thankful to all be here for another Thanksgiving and for the many, many blessings we've received this year. Hope your holiday was lovely too!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nearly There

I had never liked my previous cutting table as it was way too long and took up way too much space. I wanted something which would be really efficient and economical and serve more than one purpose in the new studio. Starting with three ClosetMaid basket systems (two found at the thrift store, one newly purchased at Lowe's) we went in search of a top. Several options were considered before we decided on a Luan hollow-core door. The doors are 80" long and come in varying widths. I close 30" as it fit well with my large cutting mat. The doors are light and easy to transport and fairly inexpensive ($21 - $28 or so).

My wonderful brother-in-law Tom came over this morning to shorten the door - removing 14" from one end. That left a 6 1/8" overhang on either side. Strips of wood were screwed to the underside to keep the door stable and voila - I have a custom table! I'm really pleased with this, especially the size. Thank you, Tom!

Here I am 'assisting' my brother-in-law.

Strips of wood were screwed into the table on both ends. The door
was then flipped upside down.

A view from below. These strips hold the door firmly in place.

This table is the perfect length, giving me just enough room
for my cutting mat, pressing surface and templates.

I bought unfinished knobs for my newly painted little dresser. Sprayed with a clear finish, they look like the ones on my Horn cabinet. My DH hooked up the stereo our son and DIL had given me. DH thinks I'd get better sound if the speakers were on top of the shelves.

Some of my vintage sewing things are finally on display above my fabric shelves.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Making Progress

The hollow-core 30" x 80" Luan door will be shortened by a foot or so. A horizontal bulletin board is planned for the wall.

I began the day with a bone density scan and was told "You have good bones." I'm blessed to have strong Irish and German genes.

When I got home I got to work on sprucing up some furniture. Using a small foam roller and fresh white paint, I was able to knock out the little chest of drawers in no time. It looked so nice I decided to paint the old cupboard and book shelves in the hall. The day turned warm allowing me to get outside and spray a second coat of red paint on my Windsor chair.

My brother-in-law will come over tomorrow to cut a foot or so off the luan door I bought at Lowe's. It will be placed on top of the three ClosetMaid basket units and serve as a cutting table. I'm finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Once I'd finished my painting, I had some fun placing a few sewing baskets and collectibles on top of the book shelves. They've been tucked away for far too long.

Baskets and sewing collectibles are finally on display. The printer's type tray previously used for thread will hold vintage thimbles and threads. The Little Mother sewing machine was a yard sale find.

I love the button family on this very old button bag.
I've had it for a long time.