Springing Ahead – and a little bit of Cleaning too!

Greetings from snow laden New Hampshire!   It usually doesn’t take much to put me in a springtime state of mind once we get to March 1, – I’ve been fondling floral fabrics all month.  Today, I’m still looking ahead – but there’s 30″ of fresh snow on the ground, with more rumored to be coming. I am so sick of French Toast – you have to be a New Englander to get the reference.

Tip 1 – In ‘Lindaland’, it IS almost spring…so I’ve got 5 tips for getting your sewing space ready for spring (and summer, but let’s not push it).  I did all 5 of these while the snow was falling, so feel free to adapt them as you would like to.

I have several small quilted wall hangings, so I switched out two that hang behind my sewing room and over my desk to pieces that bring to mind warm weather, flowers and summer nights. It’s amazing the difference that that has made.

Tip 2 Just like the timing on clocks and fire extinguishers, I use this time as a reminder to change/sharpen/replenish my rotary cutting tools. Santa was good to me this year, and found the rotary sharpener (blue) while he was out and about.  How often do we proclaim the joys of a sharp rotary blade – it makes the jobs easier, very true. It’s also much safer to work with a sharp blade in your sewing room – just as a sharp knife in the kitchen is very sharp. I certainly do this throughout the year, but it’s nice to get a simple spruceup – and if you have the new supplies on hand, you can do it when the plow goes by.

Tip 3 I can promise never to show you my oven, or the bottom of my purse – every woman needs some secrets.  See chocolate stash for correlation. But – I will show you what I found when I looked ‘under the hood’ at my bobbin area this week.  I’ve been doing a lot of stitching on my On Ringo Lake projects, and it shows – even with Aurifil thread. I don’t believe in blowing this area with air – physics will tell you that you will only push the threads into the machine where you can’t get it.  A handy pipecleaner, and some readers, will have you clean and pristine as quickly as can be.  Unlike me, you probably can’t build a fuzzy kitty, but you never know. And that’s not anything you should strive for, anyway.

Tip 4 goes right along with Tip 3, above – because if you’re going to clear out the lint, you might as well change your needle right along with it.  Now this is an area that has some controversy with it…some quilters change their needles every 8 hours of sewing, some people have never changed it. My motto is in all things, moderation…so if you get into the habit of changing it every 6 months or so (with the clocks), you will soon become familiar with how to change it, and which needle works with which sewing task…we tend to think that since we’re always using 100 % cotton, it’s all the same.  There’s a lot more to it than that…but I digress. Just start. And put the used needles in a child safe container (this is an old clean prescription container that I keep just for that purpose.



And finally…Tip #5…Create and build a Portable bag for sewing. Eventually, the warm weather will be here with summer mornings on the porch (sigh), baseball and soccer games, picnics, and lakeside vacations. That’s a perfect time for a portable bag – or as I call it, the Binding Bag. Whether you choose handwork, English Paper Piecing, binding (guess where the name comes from!), now is the time to start planning ahead for that.

How do you keep clean your space for the warmer weather?

Inspiration is Everywhere – Ringo Lake Renovation…

If you’re a fan of mine on Facebook, you know that one of the photo prompts I use often is “Inspiration is Everywhere”.  I can just about always find a photo to talk about (and it doesn’t even have to be about quilts), and sometimes I get more hits on a given day than others.  This month, I had set aside some time to work on projects every day – it’s an annual project which is a great way to jumpstart your creativity in the midst of a long New England winter.

On RIngo Lake Scraps

On Ringo Lake – falling behind

The project that I had selected to work on (only one this year – it’s massive) was Bonnie Hunter’s latest mystery quilt, On Ringo Lake. I liked the color pallett she selected, I’ve seen other quilts of hers before which I loved (who doesn’t love a scrap quilt), I collected my scraps (see the photo at left), and I was off. I managed to keep up in week one with the correct number of Clue #1 done in time, but Clue #2… there was no way I could keep up, even though I tried.

When the mystery quilt was revealed, I watched for several more weeks (as I got further and further behind) and saw people making this quilt from all over the world. That was the fun part…the not so fun part was feeling more frustrated with each passing day.  Every time I looked at that, I had this creeping fit in the pit of my stomach – did I even want to finish it?  We’re talking a major time and energy (and fabric) investment, for something that isn’t quite my taste.  Lesson learned – I will do much more research before doing a mystery again.

Enter February 2018…I got the flu and my mom passed away – so working on quilts wasn’t something I had the time or the inclination to do for a while. When I was finally ready to do some sewing, I had come to terms with the fact that I was not interested in finishing this to say I finished it. I also wasn’t ready to admit defeat on this one. For the record, this quilt (and Bonnie) has taught me a lot about perseverence, accuracy, reading directions to the end, and working through the process.   And I had already made all 50 of Clue #1 and a reasonable amount of the actual blocks – I wanted to find a way to finish something with it.

My On Ringo Lake quilt has become Ringo Lake Renovation….I changed the layout, eliminated the sashing (the way many renovations remove a load bearing wall), and added some negative space, which will allow me to play with quilting designs eventually.  I put it upright on the design wall earlier today, and I think that this quilt will become a much loved throw in my house in the winters to come.  I’m actually in love with the color blocking on it.



Have you ever done a mystery quilt, then decided not to continue it?  How do you solve issues like that?

Off to grab some graph paper to decide how to continue the work…stay tuned.





The first clue had us make 50 of one block – done, trimmed and put aside.   Then the clues kept coming each week, where I was so far behind I felt like I was drowning in the project; all the while I looked at proud photos posted on Instagram and Facebook of people who have kept us with the pace – I’ve seen photos of this quilt from all over the world, in many many colorways…providing testimony to Bonnie’s popularity. I just kept on keeping on, while altering my construction method of

A Preview of Coming Attractions….of sorts!

Yes, you’re in the right place…don’t click back!

I’ve been working behind the scenes to work on this site, and there are changes here (and more coming…it’s a process).  But in keeping with my commitment to post weekly, I can tell you that there’s more ‘secret stuff” coming in the near future.  If you saw my Facebook post the other day about walking a project back from Plan B to Plan A – thanks to a shipping notice from Missouri Star, I got started on Plan A this afternoon.  Remember balance? I sometimes need to take a break  from coding and widgets to let my creative side play. It’s just another kind of work.  (more…)

Balance – how did I wander so far off the path?

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Today, I want to talk about 5 Habits I’m going to be working on this year to improve my Balance.  I’ve mapped my editorial calendar out for the year, and Balance is a recurring theme throughout my year. Ever since I decided on that word as a focus word, I have become accutely aware just how out of balance I feel in some ways – not out of control, but definitely out of balance.  Think, if you need a visual, of the leaning tower of Pisa – it’s not going to fall, but no one who sees it would ever assume it’s in balance.

My vision board

In thinking more about this, I realized that the Balance issue has been percolating up for a while now. I participated  in a vision board workshop early last year, and I pulled it out of the closet tonight to really take a look at it. It’s staring me in the face…the quest for balance. Sometimes, I’m a quick study…sometimes not so much.

To quote Tom Ryan…”Onward, by all means…”

One does not go from being out of balance to being in balance quickly…it requires a lot of soul searching, a lot of tough decision making, and dusting off some productivity and time management skills that really need a workout this year.  As does my treadmill and sneakers, but that’s another blogpost entirely. And I need to put fun (deliberately) into the mix.

My workroom is a classic home office (really, it’s the second bedroom in our home), and it houses both my office and my sewing space…so every morning that I come to ‘work’, my first decision is tackle the desk (and computer, emails, deadlines, etc) or the sewing work.  I’m one of those people who is roughly split evenly in the left brain/right brain dominent exercises, so it’s a bit like starting the day with an internal squabble in my head.

The creative muse needs to get as much attention as the analytic one, and lately, she hasn’t.  There’s been way too much spreadsheetin (is that a thing) and way too little stitching going on, and that hasn’t helped. I need to play with the colors, and the patterns…and I have something in my head that’s dying to get out and onto fabric…

To be continued – but if you have some skills or tricks to keeping yourself in balance, I’d love to know.  Clearly, I have lessons to learn.  Comments, as they say…welcome!



It’s all about BALANCE for 2018…here’s my why

Now that I’m in the after Christmas/pre New Years rush, I can let you in on a some things I’ve been working on. I’ve been spending some time taking stock of things, and looking ahead to next year in addition to making stockings and wrapping presents.   To be quite honest, I felt the need to take some time to me in early December, to reflect and to see where my energies really needed to go.

I think I’m at the point where I’m doing that every 7 year evaluation that people often speak of, and that silence, that quiet has allowed me to listen to some things.  There are also some family things going on in the background, and although those aren’t for this blog, they are things that need to be dealt with.  All this ruminating and navel gazing has led to this…my word for 2018.

Balance ….(I think it’s time we met).

I’ve run into the brick wall of ‘there’s only so much Linda to go around’ syndrome for too many Decembers, and this has led me to the realization that it’s time to put me on the priority list.  It feels silly, and it feels indulgent…but it also feels right.

My home office is also my sewing studio (a studio tour is on my short list of things for January), and I often feel frustrated by waay too little sewing.  You may (or may not) have noticed that. That’s one change I’m making – and making public now…I have patterns and design ideas that have been in my head too long.  They are out, and on paper, and scheduled.  

I also have put strategies into place so that I can maintain this focus throughout 2018, and I’ll be reporting back during 2018. It also means letting go of some bad habits I’ve accumulated along the way, and developing new ones to support my newfound quest for balance.

This isn’t the first time I’ve selected a word for the year, but it is the first time that I’ve strategized on how to achieve it.

A ‘word for the year’ is something that’s very personal for everyone, and now that I’ve shared mine, I’d love it if you’d share yours…I’m taking applications for 2019’s word now…  Care to share?

I”m off to ‘indulge’ in some late scheduled holiday gatherings…back at it tomorrow.

I’m switching up my UFO process for next year…here’s why

I have learned that life as a Nana works best when you are flexible…this was partially written last night, but I had to move this to this morning because I needed to pitch in with a sick kid.  So apologies to all, and here we go!


December is a good time of year for taking stock, and I’m using my time to evaluate what changes I want to make here. Goal setting is a big part of that, and I’ll be using that old chestnut that if the goal isn’t scary enough, it’s not big enough.  In last week’s blog, I mentioned how I used the APQ resolution to schedule and clear out some of the UFOs that I had on hand, and now that the sheet for 2018 has been posted, I’m listing out the projects I want to work on, but with a twist.  I did find that I put the kids stockings (see last week’s blog post here for that story), even though they weren’t an ‘official UFO’…but it was deadline driven, and there I was, on 12/13, killing it. Trust me, there have been years when it was 12/24 and a half – I’m never going there again.

For 2018, I started with the idea that this can be a tool to accomplish my goals, as well as to clear out some UFOs. It’s just one…my newfound accountability partner is another one.  As I worked my way down the list, I found that the slots I have for projects I want to work on are finite…and here, I’ve come full circle to something that I have worked with before.  There’s only so much Linda to go around.

So, with that – here comes another confession – I am already behind on the On Ringo Lake Mystery quilt from Bonnie Hunter.  These days, my Facebook timeline is filled with photos of people showcasing their colors, and their neat piles. For a time,  I wanted to join the crowds and play…and I will.  ORL is going be scheduled for some of the months that I have open on my list – but it’s my list and things can be swapped around as I need to. I’m pretty sure that the quilt police aren’t auditing my list anytime soon.

I’m also sure I have a Lifetime membership (After 25 plus years) with the UFO of the month club…but this is something that, with modifications, I can incorporate into my quilting life.

How do you keep track of your lists?  I’m open to using and modifying my list as much as I need to.


My last UFOs for the Year – Done!

4 – what to start

A couple of weeks ago, I created a post about 5 changes I’m making to Christmas this year – and I’ve loved hearing from many of you about changes you’re making.  I confess to you all that although I had been working on being realistic, there were two projects which I knew I needed to get done before Christmas Eve.

Stockings – one for my grandson and my granddaughter.

In our family, the get together is held on Christmas Eve, and we do food, fun, presents and stockings.  With 5 granddogs between my sons, a puppy or two has been known to be added to the mix in year’s past; I wouldn’t have Christmas any other way.  Last year, Hadleigh was 10 months old – and she got a basket instead of a stocking because, well…Nana lost control of the sewing room. I don’t think I scarred her, but I’m also sure I needed to put one together for her – and if I’m going to make her one, why not her brother (cuts down on next year’s UFO list, right?)

Stockings are a big deal in our family. I had a big one from my crafty nana as a little girl – when my husband and I married, I found he didn’t have a special one (they used adult socks in their house), so I made him one, then my older son, then my younger son.  This was the 80s, and rather than quilted stockings, we all have felt and sequined Bucilla (remember them?) stockings, which are on the smaller size. It worked.

When my daughters in law joined us, each got a stocking made for them. I have a book by Eleanor Burns full of Christmas patterns, and in there is a stocking pattern that I have used several times.  Including this week.

Hadleigh’s stocking

I confess, I had no grand plan for either of the stockings…I keep a bin of fabric that’s Christmas themed in my closet, and that’s where the inspiration for Hadleigh’s stocking came came from – that and some amazing Christmasy leftovers from my Island Batik days.  This was all ‘winging it’, with some help from my Cricut (the tree and her name), and my sewing machine.   I have a button jar, and that’s where the tree garland comes from. It works for a toddler…and I’m hoping it will work for an older girl too.  After I put it together, I realized that it looks like the Spode Christmas china..

Colby finished

One down, one to go…and back to the bin. The Pearl men love their plaid (it’s a year round obsession), and this fabric just seemed to work for him.  I think it’s something i had used for table coverings back in the day, so this is a green project. I used the cricut cutter (and there’ll be more coming on that in the future) again for both his name and the gingerbread men themselves.  I embellished with more buttons and some fabric paint (I can see a couple of places where I went heavy on the ‘icing’), but oh well.  I hope he likes his stocking…he’s 6 months, how will I tell?

My 2017 to do list

So with that, I have finished my last ‘to do’ for this month, and most likely the last of my APQresolution projects for the year – I really don’t see another finish.  Here’s the page from my quilter’s planner mini which I keep handy on my sewing table. I don’t expect you to be able to read my handwriting, but the top list are the items 1-12 that I selected to finish for the year.  I finished 5 (a 6th one not on the list), and I worked on a 7th one.  There were more projects that have been added (although I don’t think that there are as many of them as I took off the list…net net, I’m probably down 3 of the items…that sounds like a great exercise to work on in the last week of the year.

I will definitely work with this list again, but for now,  I’m heading back to Ringo Lake.


Postcard from Ringo Lake –

Today’s post is an update on a new project I’m working on – the zen of last week’s post can’t really stay zen for long.  I had posted an interesting tidbit on my facebook page about being vaguely intrigued about the newest Quiltville mystery quilt, On Ringo Lake…had many of my readers thought about it, were a lot of you going to do this?  I heard back in very short order that many of them had not ever done a “Bonnie Hunter” mystery before, but they were hooked on this one.  I pondered.

Then my newsfeed began to fill with many many photos of paint chips and beautifully folded samples of fabrics – beautifully laid out, just waiting for the beginning of the mystery – scheduled for Black Friday.  I was in – without really any context of what I was getting myself into…does that sound familiar to anyone?  But I wanted to play.

On Ringo Lake Fabric pull

One of my first decisions was that this quilt would be a scrap quilt…I’m using my stash as is, and my color choices are a little more sharply defined than the prototype colors are.   My fabric supply for this can only be described as a ‘Hot Mess’, but the good news is that in this process, I went through my stash of UFOs, and determined that there was enough to work through a major portion of this. I have a lot less of the coral/salmon family to use than I would have liked, but I’m working on a switch to the orange/tangerine part of the color wheel. and I’m making that work for me.


As a newbie, I had no idea of the pace of this project, and I thought that the quantity required for the first clue was daunting.

Clue #1 finishe

..It was running through my head as I wrote last week’s zen post.  Imaging my surprise when clue #2 was released, and there were four times the number of units from clue 1.  I saw a joke about this on Instagram, saying they were waiting for 20,000 HSTs…it makes me wonder.  This may be part of my 2019 UFO project list. 

I can say that this is a great project to work on if you’re trying to improve your accuracy.  Like many quilters, I have struggled from time to time with Flying Geese; I can say that the practice/repetition of this project has already improved…now if we can just work on the speed, I’ll be good.

The other part I’m loving is the comraderie of people working on it.  The variations of colors seem endless, and I saw a post (again on Instagram) of a quilter who was flying (according to the tray table) and passing the time by trimming his geese on the flight (with a notably small set of scissors).

For now, I’m enjoying the journey…I’m sure that I won’t set any land speed records for this project…but that’s ok. Every once in a while, you do need to slow the pace down and enjoy the journey. See, I’m back to zen.

You can find out more about this by visiting the page at the top of the post.  Or look for the hashtags #onringolake.

Enjoy the week…I’ll be talking to you next week!

Clue #2…scrappy organized



5 Changes I’m making to Christmas this year…and why

It’s November 30, and like many of you, I’ve started looking ahead to Christmas.  There have been years I’ve dreaded it, postponed it, procrastinated it – and really didn’t find myself enjoying the holiday season.  Once upon a time, I worked for a company which ended it’s year on 12/31…so you can imagine how joyful those holiday seasons were for me. Not much.  I’m at a season of my life where I can take some stock, realize that I am part of the problem, and make some course corrections.  I’ll report back in January to see how this goes.

This isn’t a typical 5 tips post, where I share with you my  best advice on the holidays…it’s more of I’m switching things up and I’ll let you know how it works after posts.  But I have talked to a lot of girlfriends, and these are things that bother many of us. So…

thing 1

Thing 1 – this year, the decorations are up. Part of that is that the calendar gives us more time post Thanksgiving, but it’s also a concerted effort to do a bit everyday until the boxes are out of my dining room.  We have lived here a long time, and we’ve collected a ton of Christmas things…might as well get them out and up to enjoy them.  This year, with a granddaughter in the picture (and a creeping grandson), we’ve had to move some things up and out of the way. My Santa collection now goes part way up my stairs…and they look great there.

Thing 2

Gift wrapping is not something that I particularly enjoy, and it IS something that I typically procrastinate until cars are in the driveway.  My sons tend to be this way, and I hate to admit it, but I know which parent they get this from.  The good news is that as they are now older…gift cards tend to be so much easier to wrap than packages.

And whoever invented gift bags is a saint in my opinion.

Thing 3

I have a lot of gaps in my Christmas movie knowledge, and this is the year I make time to enjoy this part of Christmas…I keep hearing about these movie marathons, and I have made time to enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life before.  Truthfully, we’re more a Christmas vacation kind of family, but I’m always looking for recommendations for good Christmas movies.  I’d love it if you leave me a comment below about that.  And what’s the controversy about Die Hard?


Thing 4 and 4A

Oh, how many times have I fallen into THIS trap over the years…I have a closet full of T shirts on this one. Between the fabrics in the shops, the magazines at the store, and even the blogs and posts on Facebook, this bites me every darn year. I’m the mom who was stitching my oldest son’s Christmas stocking as we were on the way to Christmas eve celebrations…and this beast still comes out every year.  I have two  very doable projects to finish (and their scheduled in my calendar next week)…stay tuned for that.

Thing 5

I’ve seen this phrased many ways…smell the roses, live in the moment, pick a sentiment. It’s so very true.  I hate to say it, but Martha isn’t stopping by to inspect my house – or yours. So enjoy the chaos, the music, the mayhem. This year’s Christmas is going to be a memory soon enough.

Oh, and if this was a 6 tips post…I’d say buy the wine now.  It makes great hostess gifts.


Inspiration Part 2 – Using Picmonkey for the Ribbon.

In last week’s blogpost, I showed you how I made the Viewers Choice ribbon for the Connections Quilt Festival (inspired by two ladies named Nancy); I also promised to walk you through how I made the tag for the ribbon.  It’s actually a photo of a picture I took, tinted and with text added using a free program named Picmonkey. Picmonkey is a photo editor which I use for all kinds of projects – everything from watermarking photos of your quilts to editing backgrounds for my own business cards and promotional materials.  Picmonkey has both premium options and a free version; everything I’m going to show you  can be done using the free portion. And I work on a windows based laptop…just in case you are wondering.

The picture above is a good one of the finished ribbon, but it’s a little hard to see what I did for the tag.  Let’s get started…there are pies to bake and grandchildren to snuggle today!

  • Select a photo you want to use as the background for this project, and save it to your desktop. In this case, I had a photo of some FMQ swirls that I had taken of one of my quilts – it should go without saying that you should only use your own work on this!
  • Open picmonkey, and select the option to Design a Canvas.  The controls for picmonkey are on a drop down bar on the left…you want to select the butterfly, which allows you to add an overlay to the canvas. Click on add your own, and select the photo you you saved to your desktop in step one.  That lays your photo on the canvas, and allows you to add color to it using the color picker – you can either specify the color number or you can use the drag and drop method.
  •  At this point, the next step is to flatten the overlay to the canvas; that will ensure that the color is attached to the photo.  To flatten it, click on the layers box on the left side of the canvas, where the down arrow appears over a layer of papers. That’s how you flatten something – which is different than saving.




  • The next step is to go back to the main menu on the left side – where it says overlays in the picture above. Select the top menu on the left (it has three horizontal lines on it). Select the crop option, and that will place a cropping button over the canvas.  This might turn out to be specific to this project, but I knew I wanted to have the tag be something long and skinny…if you were going to add text to a photo, you could skip this step.  Crop the canvas to the approximate size you want it, and then hit save on the top menu.  Saving at this point gives you something you can always reload later as a blank canvas.
  • After you have cropped and saved it, you’re ready to add text.  Cropping your piece allows you to more easily judge the font size and appearance – and Picmonkey gives you many to choose from.  On many of the drop down options for Picmonkey, you’ll see a crown next to the option – that means that an option is available as part of their premium package (Royale). For this project, it wasn’t needed.  The ribbon tag has 3 separate text boxes, all the same font, but slightly different font sizes for each – Connections Quilt Festival, Viewers Choice and 2017.  By using 3 different text boxes, you can place each one onto the piece independently, and then edit center each (or adjust the font for each).


  • Save your work, then export it back to your desktop so that you can print it.  I printed it onto a 4 x 6 photo paper, but because it has been cropped, there was a lot of white space around it.  Not to worry – I did that on purpose!  I trimmed the white borders around all it evenly with a pinking blade, and punched a hole in the top of the tag.  To finish, I took a 12″ piece of embroidery floss in a color that blended in, looped it through the hole, and tucked the end up under the blade of the fan, securing it with Elmers.  Let it dry, and you’re all set.

Enjoy –