Tag Archives: fabric

More Chickens Coming To Roost


This is a very visual post with few words.

This is an update on the chicken wall hangings I’ve been making.  I’m going slowly but enjoying the process.  It is fun to see what emerges using fabric components in different arrangements.

Chicken or the Egg?

Chicken or the Egg?


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photo 2 (31)photo 1 (32)

Have a terrfic new week as you more forward with your life!


Chickens & October Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

Chickens & October Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

I have always loved the month of October. In the United States, deciduous trees change color and firey gold leaves come tumbling down on rifs of crisp air. The poplars and alders in the gorge turn into torches scattered along the cliffs. High in the Andes Mountains, where I live in Cuenca, Ecuador, the weather turns a little warmer with hot sun mid day and chilly nights. Many flowers bloom all year long here. Hummingbirds and finches are nesting again in our garden. It is a fabulous month!

Many of the succulents in our garden are blooming.photo 1 (27)photo 2 (25)photo 3 (8)


I have been working to complete a large lap quilt I call Mud Slide due to the earthy color scheme.  I am machine quilting each block now.  I am about half through machine quilting.  Whew – it is a lot of work!

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I have been using some metalic threads, taking my time,  improving my technique, making mistakes, learning…always learning.

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A feathered star stitch in the center of each flower anchors the 4.5″ squares.

photo 1 (25)The silver thread barely shows – a subtle touch in a fairly muted quilt.


Yesterday, I could not find some fabric I’ve been gathering to make wall hangings of chickens.  I turned my studio upside down but I finally found this little collection of fabric. photo 1 (26)

And here is the first “square in a square” 12 inch block laid on two different fabrics to audition sashing fabric.

photo 2 (24)photo 3 (7)I hope you are enjoying some beautiful weather wherever you are in this great world.

What do you like about October?

Do you have a favorite geographic spot you visit at diffrent times of the year?

Have a great time exploring this new month!photo (64)


A Straight-Forward-Appearing Pattern Proves Hard

A Straight-Forward-Appearing Pattern Proves Hard

I recently bought a quilt pattern online.  It is a perfect solution for this US citizen living permanently in Ecuador.  The pattern appeared to be something I would enjoy making.  I even  had fabrics that look a lot like the pattern.  The pattern is fine.  My skills at matching approximately 20 junctures in each 9.5 inch block are not so great.  If several points match, still several do not.

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This is a lap quilt for me.  It does not have to be perfect.  The cats will sleep on my lap on top of this quilt.  Still, I have taken this as an opportunity to improve my skills.  So far, I have found that I sometimes stitch slightly wider than 1/4″.  Big problem! Even if only for 1/2 inch, it throws junctions off.  Of course.

I have discovered my attention span wanders frequently – maybe the music is great so I’m distracted for a moment.  You know how it can be, right?  So other points may be slightly off.  I have ripped out and re-sewn block after block.  Finally, I am doing the best I can but reminding myself CATS are going to sleep on this.  It will never be in a show.  For sure!!

I hope to keep improving my skills.  On other patterns, things come out just right so this one is simply not forgiving enough for a sometime-slacker.

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Still, I am mostly enjoying the process.  For one thing, I have HATED ripping things out since I first learned to sew.  With this project, I have found, with an ergo seam ripper, I can do it quickly and without drama.  All good!

I love the colors – not my usual choices – salmon, coral, orange, shades of brown, shades of gold and snowy white.

There are 30 blocks.  I have 22 completed.  On the final blocks, I am trying to learn all I can about what I’m doing to prevent perfect matching points. Sewing when I am tired is NOT successful.  Duh!  Lowered attention to detail, much less patience, mood turns to cranky, not the ideal conditions for piecing quilt blocks.

Quilting is a metaphor for life: luscious fabrics mixed in different ways make up a whole “item” in the world.  Learning new things keeps the brain sharp.  Patience can be learned in many ways. Quilting is one of them. Perseverance is rewarded at the end.

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What are you working on this week?

Cats LOVE Quilts – What’s Up With That?



Other readers send comments comfirming that their cats seem to “own” any quilt their humans work on.  Here are Curry and Saffron/Butch perched on a newly completed wall hanging I had folded and placed on my cutting table the night before.

Why do you think cats love quilts?

Well, quilts are warm…



quilts are soft.


The quilt may have been hair-free until the cats discovered it so its their job to make it look broken in.


And best of all, it is where the human(s) put a lot of energy, time and value so it is the best place for a cat to seek attention.


And the fabric stash is a GREAT place to hide for a secluded nap.

Best of all for this human is that the cats are a lot of company on my quilting journey.

Do you have pet helpers?

~~~Have a terrific week!


Quilt Design and Buying Fabric

Quilt Design and Buying Fabric
Purple/teal quilt

Purple/teal quilt

I ADORE fabric.  100% cotton quilting fabric especially but I enjoy all types of fabric.  It is eye candy to me.  Luscious colors, sophisticated neutrals, stark solids, and many different patterns – like fabric that looks like granite or tree trunks or feathers.

I also love going on the hunt for a quilt design to suit a particular fabric. And I”m crazy about the magic of zillions of fabric choices: colors, textures, depth, the style of the fabric such as batik or floral, satin smooth or burlap-like.

Fabric is quite addictive to the person who loves sewing and design.  The on-line hunt for a fabric that speaks to me is a guilty pleasure.  Yes, I buy my fabrics online. When I lived in the US, I supported several quilt shops in the Portland, Oregon area.  But now I live in Ecuador where there is virtually no true cotton quilting fabric.  So I have developed a few favorite online fabric shops.  I have fabric delivered to my daughter in Oregon and pick the fabric up when I visit her, about once or twice a year.  This year, that visit is only 10 weeks away. Hooray!

As a quilter, I love the terrific variety of fabrics offered in the US.  There is beginning to be just a little 100% cotton in Cuenca. It seems to be shirting weight, pretty thin for great quilting material. But it’s a start.  More could follow, although the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, is very interested in importing less and less , to force the purchase of Ecuadorian products.

So I have a pile of fabric and other items accumulating  right now in Oregon. Thank you to my wonderful daughter for receiving all my orders at her house!  A big thank you to my son-in-law too! And sometimes things go to my darling daughter-in-law, who also graciously holds things for me until I visit them in California. In the past, things were also delivered to my friend Cindy or to Tania’s house. And people like David H. who brought some fabric back to Cuenca for me when he visited the US around the holidays. What he brought allows me to complete my daughter’s 35th birthday present!   All of these wonderful people help me keep quilting in Cuenca. My heart warms whenever I think of each of you.

owls for tenley

How do you shop for fabric?  Do you go to a particular store or do you like a resource online? Do you scout a lot of stores, like Cindy and I used to do on week ends?  How long can you go without looking at fabric or buying fabric?

When planning a new quilt, do you pick a design first or spy a fabric that speaks to you first and then figure out the design? Do you ever take classes online or in person at a local quilt shop?  Do you teach classes?  I love community quilt shops and support them in every way I can when I am in the US.

In my last post, I imagined the pioneer women in the 1840’s US, bumping along for weeks in a covered wagon on a frightening journey to live in some rugged part of the West.  No “Big Box” stores, no Starbucks and definitely no fabric stores in the West back then.  So for me, unlike the pioneer women who could not shop for fabric at all on the trail West, I can sit in the comfort of my living room and explore color and design on my computer screen.

Happy quilting. Do what you love. If the money does not follow, you are still doing what you love.  Those are the riches!


My favorite “shop for fabric online” sites:

http://www.fabric.com    free shipping over $35. Great selections, good sales.

http://www.equilter.com       The image of the fabric on my monitor exactly matches the fabric when I buy something from them. Drawback: rarely is shipping free. Service is excellent and orders ship quickly.

http://www.fabricdepot.com  A great variety of fabrics.  Check out their batiks.

http://www.redrockthreads.com   Aurifil, Floriani, Gutermann, Sulky Robison Anton, Sulky, YLI   Great selection of brands and colors!



Quilting Alone In Cuenca, Ecuador


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Quilting for me is a solitary sport.  It can be a team sport often, in many locations around the world. But quilting is an  uncommon activity in Cuenca.  Although a number of ex-pats and the rare Cuencana say they quilt, I have not met many who are actively quilting.   This is just a fact.  I am very happy to have time, space and fabric to work on numerous quilts so I don’t mind this solitary sport.  In fact I LOVE being able to set my own hours and pace for quilting.

For several weeks, my main focus I has been a “purple and blues” quilt, above, laid over my king quilt so ignore the tulips and orange peeking through.  The quilt top is done and it is gorgeous.  I’m very proud of it.  My daughter, Tenley, will be 35 in March so I want to have a lap quilt for her in purple and blues, her favorite colors.  However, as I design a quilt, it sometimes grows as I mess around with color combinations and find some I cannot leave out.  So I am plan to make a second quilt for my daughter who wants a  lap quilt. The current  quilt top grew to be 98 ” by 74″ – almost queen size.

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Oops!  But, really, this “mistake” is fine with a great outcome because I became very attached to this quilt as it is evolving. I  will hang it at the top of my stairs or behind the living room sofa – wherever it seems to look best once it is completed.  I hope to have the quilt hung by Christmas. It is typical of any quilt I design that I end up with a larger project than first planned.  I need to learn to downsize!  Because the bigger they are, as all of you know, the harder they are to actually quilt on the machine. But I am determined to get this one up on the wall to enjoy.

There is the added bonus that when we have guests, I could pull the quilt off the wall, wash it and put it on the guest bed.  It’s all winners here.

There are no long arm quilters with a machine in Cuenca.  Note to interested parties: you would have some business, doing quilts for the people in the ex-pat community and no competition. The downside is that you would need to charge less than in the US, most likely, as this locale as a retiree economy cannot sustain current US pricing.  Just my thoughts.  But an argument could be made either way.

For my daughter’s lap size quilt, I have plenty of the same materials so it will be equally gorgeous but the size she wanted.  I have ample time to make her quilt after the new year – I will deliver Tenley’s quilt when we visit the US in June, 2014 so it is all good.

Back to the team versus individual sport of quilting. I am on record here saying I MISS my old familiar quilt store and my favorite quilt teacher, Victoria, very much.  The old store is gone now, a newer smaller one replaced it with much less to offer.  The old store had plenty of relatively clean floor space where one could lay out a quilt.  There were huge tables where one could layer a quilt.  And there were always kind, generous people who would put their own projects aside to help a person smooth out the layers of “the sandwich” of backing, batting and quilt top.

That is right where I am now in the process.  I have a great cutting table ( 72″ long x 45″ deep) where I am layering the quilt but I really miss having extra hands to make this sandwich thing come out right, without wrinkles.  That is my focus tomorrow.  I am layering a small section at a time on the cutting table.  I can hand baste about 3 feet of length at a time so that 95″ length will take me a bit.

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One challenge is that the young cats who live here, Butch and Curry, love to play wild games all over the house at a drop of the hat.  Last night, when I was away for a little bit, they had a wild wrestle on the loose parts of the quilt sandwich that are hanging down and gently folded onto the floor. Any thing that looks different gets a cat’s curiosity juiced up so…I came home from dinner and found a bit of chaos on the landing where the cutting table lives.  But it was all repairable and I”m retired so…there is time to do all things that hold my interest.

Kale crop continues into 6th month

Kale crop continues into 6th month

When I am not quilting or doing things away from mi casa, I garden, cook gluten free meals and hang out with my precious loving husband.

Spinach Frittata

Spinach Frittata

My friends think up lots of interesting things for us to do around Cuenca.  Here is Taylor by the only phone booth I’ve noticed in Cuenca.

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Cuenca in October


Cuenca is a beautiful city any day of the year but today seemed especially gorgeous.  The sun was intense, the sky incredibly blue,  huge fluffy clouds kept the afternoon from being too warm.  It was a perfect day to water plants, shop in El Centro or do just about anything I could think of.  Me gusta Cuenca!

I have not posted for awhile.  Injured my knee, I was commissioned to make some baby/toddler quilts, some other stuff –  so I”ve been burning the midnight oil in my study getting some quilts completed.  Wow, that has been a fun job!  I met a wonderful Cuencana who is a quilter so we have enjoyed talking about patterns, exchanged some books and are browsing at fabric stores.  We have found to date lots of cotton mixed with polyester, beautiful fabric.  So what happens if one uses fabric in a quilt that has some polyester in it?  Does anyone know?

The fabric is in the $6 per meter range which is a little over a yard and the fabric is very wide, 54 ” or more, but it is kind of thin.  Yet there are some beautiful bolts, lots of cute children’s drapery and bedspread fabrics. The clerk at the store today said that much of the fabric is made in Pakistan.

Last week Ana Maria and I visited another fabric store where they had thousands of bolts of fabric, none of it 100% cotton  –  but all of it is made in Ecuador.  Beautiful fabrics for formal dresses, many choices for  pajamas, t-shirts, work clothes, etc.  It is really fun exploring like this with a new friend.  The way she found me is through reading this blog – and I am very grateful! She is very kind with an upbeat personality so a fun development in Cuenca for me.

Here is the completed quilt for Logan who is expected to arrive on election day, 11/07/12.

El Centro was buzzing with activity today at 3 – 5 pm as we walked from store to store.  We passed a family furniture business where workers were busy putting together rustic outdoor furniture.  We were stopped by an Ecuadorian gentleman who said he and his son are opening a new restaurant next week where they will serve Mexican and Italian food.  His English was superb – he spent his entire adult career in Naples, Florida and recently returned to Cuenca.  Music was blasting from one store.  Things were hoppin’.
This brings me to something I want to mention about Cuenca.  Everywhere you go, you see people you have met  before.  The market, the central square – Parque Calderon, waiting for a bus, at the swimming pool.  Cuenca lives like a much smaller city.  The suburb Len and I lived in before relocating to Ecuador had a popular YMCA.  It was on the edge of my neighborhood, less than a mile from my home. I swam there over a 6 year period.  I can count on one hand the number of times I saw someone I knew.  What a difference.  As I have said many times, most Cuencanos are friendly,calm, trusting and kind.  It creates a wonderful city vibe.

Tomorrow, an exciting event – the Windhorse Cafe is serving a lunch that is all gluten free. This is a terrific development for those of us who do not eat wheat/rye/barley.  My husband, Lenny, and I are going to lunch to support and enjoy this development.  Thank you Lucy and Criag!!  Windhorse @ Calle Larga and Hermano Miguel.

This week end, I plan to start on another baby quilt for a new child born a couple of weeks ago.  I am hoping to complete it before I go to the United States for a visit with my children, grandchildren, friends and extended family. When I sew each morning, a beautiful male hummingbird buzzes up to the window after working all the flowers on the tiny balcony.  He has established rights to our little garden and seems to be preparing for a mate.  He chases any other birds out of the one big tree and keeps a watchful vigil over the area throughout the day.  He is larger than the hummingbirds we saw in the US.  His coloring is plain greyish green at one angle but flashes iridescent as he moves.  He has deep purple feathers running down his chest – almost like a tie.  A local woman told me that this type of hummingbird is endangered.  I hope he convinces a female to join him.  My studio looks out on this lively unfolding of nature.  Lots to do and such a joyful place to be working on beautiful fabrics.

Hope you are enjoying a terrific week.