So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff



Yep, I Haven’t Been Around – See What I’ve Been Up To!

buffalo herd

Once upon a time, Native Americans of the plains tribes survived on the Buffalo. They used the whole animal, from snout to tail, hoof to horn. Then? The White Man came, and to destroy the native population, the white man slaughtered the buffalo, leaving their bodies to rot in the sun  until they were, literally, nearly extinct. As were the Native Americans.

The few that were left were pushed onto reservations. Food was brutally scarce, shelter and warmth nearly nonexistent.  White men’s leftovers, including ‘trade cloth’, were the only things available. You certainly can’t grow food in the middle of the desert, and you can’t build homes from sand.

The Plains tribes, especially the Lakota, began making Star Quilts, variously known as Lone Star, Mathematical,  and many other names across the world. Made from trade cloth, feed bags, any sort of cloth that became available, the quilts were made for warmth, but also as trade goods. Their most important function, however, was to be given as gifts. Weddings, births, deaths. They are an integral part of Native American culture, handed down through the ages.

A Spectacular Collection of Native American Quilts
Smithsonian Magazine: A Spectacular Collection of Native American Quilts

I have made classic Lone Stars before, and they followed the tradition, becoming gifts. I lost my photos long ago in a computer crash (I made them a good 12-15 years ago) but I have always considered the Lone Star one of my absolute favorites, for its history, beauty, and complexity.

From then:

To now:


Iris Allrunner, Lakota Quilter

The history continues. So, when I wanted to make a gift for a friend/editing client who is Native, and lives in Montana, I decided I wanted to do something a bit diffrent that still links back to history.

So, I took the basic drawing idea:


But I wanted to make a quilt I have always adored – a Broken Star.

To bring in my own personality, I worked in Batiks. To honor my friend’s writing, I added these drawings:

moosewolf mountain goat elk eagle cougar bison bighorn

And Came Up With This


What do you think? The pic would be a lot better if It were stretched on the wall, but I wanted to get it in the mail. I am pretty much in love with it! 😉

Oh, just for giggles and grins, here is the math for creating the center star.  See – you DO use math in Real Life! ROFL!!!

math of star quilt


Review: Art Quilts Of The Midwest by Linzee Kull McCray

23309912I remember when it happened. In 1971 The Whitney Museum of American Art did something that sat the “Art World” on its ear. They displayed quilts in a museum setting: Abstract Design in American Quilts “bestowed institutional recognition of the artistry inherent in these humble textiles.”

Quilts have existed, literally, throughout history. While they are made from fabric, and therefore examples are hard to find before Roman times, scraps from that period have been found in digs. The Middle Ages hold many examples of quilted fabrics being used under the metal armor used by knights to shield their bodies from sharp edges and protect them from blows against the metal.

As a child, I remember quilts in wedding chests and on beds in country homes. They were often cherished and handed down by families. I also remember seeing exquisitely hand stitched quilts thrown in the trunks of cars by uncaring family members, and used under cars for changing oil. Quilts often, literally, “got no respect.”

I remember my first quilt show, at the local county fair. I worked for hours on end to stitch a Bargello quilt in all shades of reds. I very carefully chose all my fabrics, carefully matching thread colours to blend, not only to my top but to the floral background I oh-so-very-carefully chose to go with the top. I was soooo proud of that quilt!

Imagine my dismay when the judge, an elderly woman with a tight, lemon-pucker face, said, “You know, you could have won, if you hand just used the proper thread. Quilts are always quilted with WHITE thread!” As I looked at my much loved quilt, I gave up in tears. White thread?!?! All you would see would be the thread!! It would totally take away from my quilt! I gave my quilt away, and didn’t quilt again for years.

A few of the quilts hanging in the Whitney

Things have changed since then. Quilts ARE Art! And isn’t it wonderful? What used to be three layers of fabric (COTTON ONLY!!) batting (COTTON ONLY) and fabric (COTTON ONLY) bound together by thread (WHITE cotton only) to be shown only at the county fair, if you showed them at all, have now become magnificent art forms. And Art Quilts of the Midwest Linzee Kull McCray showcases the works of many of the premiere quilt artists of today. As a writer covering textiles, art, and craft, Linzee Kull McCray wondered just how deeply fiber artists were influenced by their surroundings. Focusing on midwestern art quilters in particular, she put out a call for entries and nearly 100 artists responded; they were free to define those aspects of midwesterness that most affected their work. Just as with any other art form, these artists are influenced by their surroundings, their time period, and their materials, much like the quilters of Gees Bend, Alabama were influenced by theirs. From the functional to the fantastic these 100

The stunning asymmetry and colour use of one of the Gee’s Bend Quilts. All the quilts are made of ‘found’ or cast off fabrics, worn clothing, feed sacks and sometimes, just sometimes, purchased fabrics.


artists work in fiber, certainly, but how they handle their materials is wide-ranging and exciting. All sorts of fibers are used – but how it is handled is deeply based in the idea of quilt as art. From new ways to utilize symmetry and repetition to new forms of dying, painting, uses of three dimensional forms and uses of non-fiber materials such as metals and jewels, the old has become new again, while still hearkening back to its historical roots, philosophy and culture.

Sewing a Quilt. Gee’s Bend, Alabama
Sewing a Quilt. Gee’s Bend, Alabama, 1937 Photo by Arthur Rothstein/Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

If you are interested in art as a whole, or in quilts in particular, this is a beautiful book to add to your collection, whether as a coffee table book to browse at your leisure over a cup of tea, a fount of ideas for your own quilt, or a paean to beauty, this is a gorgeous book to add to your library.


I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.


McCray_Jenny Gordy.jpgLinzee Kull McCray

Linzee Kull McCray grew up in California and resides in Iowa. After nearly thirteen years as a writer and editor for the University of Iowa, she is a fulltime freelance writer with a focus on textiles, art, and craft. She is a contributing editor at Stitch magazine and her work appears in Etsy’s blog, UPPERCASE, American Patchwork and Quilting, Quilt Country, Quilt Sampler, Modern Patchwork, O magazine, and numerous other print and online publications.

Photo credit: Jenny Gordy

The Artists

Marilyn Ampe, St. Paul, Minnesota
Gail Baar, Buffalo Grove, Illinois

Diane Nunez, “Twisted”

Sally Bowker, Cornucopia, Wisconsin
Peggy Brown, Nashville, Indiana
Shelly Burge, Lincoln, Nebraska
Shin-hee Chin, McPherson, Kansas
Sandra Palmer Ciolino, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jacquelyn Gering, Chicago, Illinois
Kate Gorman, Westerville, Ohio
Donna Katz, Chicago, Illinois
Beth Markel, Rochester Hills, Michigan
Diane Núñez, Southfield, Michigan
Pat Owoc, St. Louis, Missouri
BJ Parady, Batavia, Illinois
Bonnie Peterson, Houghton, Michigan
Luanne Rimel, St. Louis, Missouri

“Knowledge” by Luanne Rimel, St. Louis MO

Barbara Schneider, Woodstock, Illinois
Susan Shie, Wooster, Ohio
Martha Warshaw, Cincinnati, Ohio
Erick Wolfmeyer, Iowa City, Iowa

Finished The Top . . .

Now I have to find time to make the back, get it layered, and quilt it, then get it up on Etsy to sell.


The Perils of Being A Total Ditz

Yesterday, I decided to finally get off the Shiny Train (you know the one – Ooooo! Shiny! I want to do That!) set down the various and sundry “I’m afraid to start the Hoffman Challenge Quilt because then I am really locked into only one of the various ideas I am throwing around” projects I have been playing with, and just choose one and get with it. I went to the workroom and chose the fabrics I wanted to start with, and very carefully laid out my pieces on my layout board. See?

layout board
What it was supposed to look like. . . sigh.

So. I pull on my headphones, punch up The Shining (as you can see from my review from yesterday), pull down the pieces and stack them properly, then get busy. Sew, sew, sew. Iron, Iron, Iron (ironing the shit out of the pieces with TONS of spray starch makes things much easier to work with!) I very carefully walk up to the pattern on the board with each segment (it is sewn in curves) and put them up to look at them before I sew, on the first three or so curves. Then, I get to the “hammering down the door with the mallet and axe” part of the book, look up and decide to start working in the other direction of the curve, and keep right on working and ironing and sewing and ironing, and before I know it, the book is done and so is the piece. Tickled, I walk upstairs and let the dogs out (burr, it is still cold outside!)

Wanting to take another look at my work and bring it upstairs so I can start working on the rest of the quilt on the computerized layout (I am still working on colours for the rest of the quilt, and no, you can’t see the pattern, that would ruin the surprise!) I stuck it on the back of the couch . . .

completed today
Fifth row down should be orange pink orange not orange pink pink.
Right side two pieces are missing a piece. . .
Sigh. Good thing I have a sharp seam ripper!

And froze.

Crap. Ditzy Dame Does It Again. When I decided to go the opposite direction, I TOTALLY fashuganaed the pattern colour layout. Well. Crap.

So, today I am taking out a big chunk for a ‘do over’. WHY do I do these things to myself?!?!?

So, today I am outside on the patio with the seam ripper. Grrrrr. I was Looking. Right. AT. The stupid thing! I didn’t even see the mistake. Just cruised right along in the zone, sewing and ironing and sewing and ironing and feeling all pleased with myself. And no, that isn’t the first time I have done the exact same thing. Seems like one of these days I would learn! This is only a piece of the quilt, of course. Have to keep some secrets, right? 😉

Ah, well, as I said, I am out on the patio, there is still snow on the ground but it is warm enough to sit out in a T-shirt and jammie bottoms to work, so things could be worse . . . But now, of course, it is getting chilly, so I move inside to my chair and my

JackReacher Chevelle SS movie car
The Reacher Chevelle

bright light – – and decide to watch a movie on Netflix. Oh! Jack Reacher! Oh, yea. Right. That weenie Tom Cruise is playing JACK?!?!?! Oh, maannnnnn. How did a wanker like that get to play Jack? You have GOT to be kidding me. The guy is, what, 5’2″? Jack Reacher is 6’5″, right? And they get a midget to play him???? Well, at least Rosamund Pike is in it, even though she is playing a total self righteous lawyer. But then, lawyers are lawyers, right?

Not mine. . . mine got creamed by a drunk driver slamming into me. Poor baby. But this is the same year, colour.

Ah well. But Tom Cruise? Really??? Well, at least the 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS is cool . . . I used to have a 1967 but that year didn’t have the nice curves that the ’70 does.

Oh, well. Will be back in the basement soon to sew this mess back together before I start on the rest of the quilt. I would work on the sweater that I am making for the son of one of the other reviewers I work with, but I figure if I do that I will manage to blow that design too the way things are going, and then I will have to pull it out – and the high quality wool and llama yarn i am using is more fragile than the fabric! Ah, well . . .

Back to ripping seams out!

A Gift for a Special Quilter!

Click to shop – these people are AWESOME!
hoffman fabric
The Challenge Fabric for this year.

I am finally back to quilting, prepping for The Hoffman Challenge. While I was out there looking for The Hoffman Challenge Main Fabric, I went to my two favorite site. is based right down the road in Boulder, Colorado and has some of the most beautiful fabrics you could ever want. From the madly popular to the unusual, Equilter is always my first stop.

Antique copper Tjaps from Dharma Trading Company.
Click to go to the Dharma Trading Site!

Next, I go to Batiks Plus. If you are in the market for batik fabrics, this is THE stop you MUST make! This is the strongest possible go-to place for any batiks you could ever want. I do most of my own dying for my batik style fabrics. But sometimes there is absolutely nothing else that will work except for true hand painted hand painted batiks hand stamped with Indonesian Copper Tjaps. The Tjaps are nearly impossible to come by – Dharma Trading has them occasionally but it is a bloody battle to get your hands on them. When Dharma sends the notice that the Tjaps are going to be available, they give a date and TIME, and I have no doubt that people sit on their computer tapping “order” a good five minutes before they become available!

Now, besides the Batiks, Batiks Plus also offers the amazing works of McKenna Ryan. If you are an applique lover, McKenna’s work is the creme’ de la creme’ of the applique world. Especially if you love nature as the basis of your works.

In January, Batiks Plus will be shipping Snow Buds, McKenna’s newest series! If you wish to buy something really nice for your favorite applique lover, you can’t miss with a beautiful McKenna Ryan series!



Snow Buds by McKenna Ryan
Click to order for your loved one who LOVES to applique!


Busy Busy with nothing to show for it…..

if-you-think-reading-is-boringYes, I know… I haven’t posted in too long! Still dealing with CreateSpace issues for M. K. Clinton’s “The Returns” series, but actually?

I cleaned up my studio, rearranged all my fabrics, and am now obsessing over my quilting. Got the Hoffman Challenge on my mind. . .


Back soon! I have LOTS of books that I have promised reviews for, and I really, REALLY need to catch up!


Review: Quilting Arts Workshop: Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork

art quilt design
Check out the Video here.

I spent today in an “Artistic Haze” watching Sara Ann Smith’s “Quilting Arts Workshop: Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork”. I purchased the download from The Interweave Store, a rather guilty pleasure of mine. They are one of the best online arts and crafts stores on the Interwebs. They have so much: quilting, crochet, knitting, beading, jewelry making, needlework, sewing and spinning and weaving, even mixed media is represented.

hoffman fabric
2014 Hoffman Challenge

For a few years I entered the Hoffman Challenge every year, and am very proud to say that my quilt actually got to travel with the International Show two years running! When I got cancer, I had a quilt nearly finished, and had a friend help me finish so I could enter the quilt. It wasn’t up to my regular skill level, of course, so it got sent back to me, but I was happy to be strong enough to at least enter.

2013 Hoffman Challenge
Click here to see the 2013 Winners

Last year, I liked the fabric quite a bit, but I just couldn’t’ get into the quilting part. {My workroom was a mess, to tell you the truth, but I was too lazy and too busy to go down there and clean it up . . . sigh.} Anyway . . .

This year’s fabric looks like it is going to be really cool. So, I decided to pull myself out of my “quilting slump” and get more interested again.

This is a great video. First, Sara Ann is a wonderful teacher. She is smart, well trained in colour theory and design. The pattern she chose (the one on the cover) is beautiful, and requires just enough work to keep it interesting without freaking you out. The colours are, of course, awesome. She takes the video step-by-step, from choosing the right fabrics, the right tools, and the extra little items that make the process fun instead of work. She does a quick discussion of using paints and pens for darkening or lightening fabrics, which I found quite useful. I have done that before, but her skill taught me quite a bit.

sarah ann smith tomato
This is the quilt that you learn to make in the class.

She gives you different methods of patterning, and a choice of being meticulous or “blobby” in your cutting of pattern pieces. Once she has the fabrics cut and ‘tacked down’ with a hot iron on the ironing sheet, she helps you decide on the background fabrics.

Once you have your fabrics fused down, she then gets into threads, both colours and types, as well as how to choose the correct bobbin threads.

threadwork unraveled
Check out the book here. It’s on Sale!

She spent a good amount of time on blending threads, which I have always had a problem with and was really thrilled that she took the time to both show and describe the quilting. I intend to purchase her book, “Thread Work Unraveled” to learn more. As a note, it is on sale for $20.16, originally $28.95, on the site.

If you are at all interested in art quilting and thread painting, I highly recommend this beautiful DVD. I purchased it for watching online, in standard format, but there is also HD format, or you can buy an actual DVD.

Highly Recommended!

Review: Quilting With A Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt Community by Rachel May

modern quilt
Due to publish January 8, 2014
Storey Publishing

To say that I am torn in my reactions to Quilting With A Modern Slant is an understatement. Part of me liked the book. A larger part absolutely hates it.  But then, that is what ‘Art’ is all about, isn’t it? It reaches out and changes boundaries, pulling reactions, whether good or bad, from the soul and the heart.

Rachel May describes her book this way: Modern quilting allows artists the freedom to play with traditions and take liberties with fabrics, patterns, colors, stitching, and the ways in which they all connect. She then offers works from 70 different modern-day quilters, exploring their take on the subject of modern quilt art.

One of the things I find odd about the premise of the book is its heavy reliance on the art of the Gee’s Bend Quilters as a “modern” concept on quilting. The Gee’s Bend Quilt tradition began in the 19th century, in the Gee’s Bend community of Alabama. A cotton plantation belonging to Joseph Gee was the starting point for a style of geometric and highly improvisational quilt making brought about by the necessity of staying warm in rough, unheated slave shacks. Today, the quilts have been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. In the words of Alvia Wardlaw, the curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, “The compositions of these quilts contrast dramatically with the ordered regularity associated with many styles of Euro-American quilt making. There’s a brilliant, improvisational range of approaches to comp that is more often associated with the inventiveness and power of the leading 20th-century abstract painters than it is with textile-making.”

“The Quilts of Gee’s Bend by Arnett, Wardlaw, Livingston, and Beardsley.
Gee’s Bend, The Architecture of the Quilt by Arnett, Arnett, Gordon, Herman, Mott, Blum, Whitley, Wallach and Cubbs.

First, I must say that the power and beauty of the Gee’s Bend’s Quilts is absolutely breathtaking. There are several books you can read that describe the quilts and their makers. Those listed here are only two of many volumes written over the years.

The quilts are made with what could be obtained in the day, showing the worn knees of work pants and the leftover pieces of dresses so worn as to be nearly indistinguishable in pattern. The careful stitching and clean lines are clear indicators of the care and thought that went into each one. The quilts were designed for use, but also an eye to beauty.

While many of the quilts in the book honour these concepts of improvisation and beauty, clean lines and careful stitches, others, well, others do not. Instead, they seem to rejoice in ugly fabrics, clashing colours, and a jarring lack of beauty in line and concept. Others are so blatantly derivative of the Gee’s Bend Quilts as to be nothing other than copies.

There are good things about the book. The segments on natural dying are quite good, as are the segments on paper piecing and hand quilting. However, all of these are better, and more thoroughly described, in other volumes.  I believe what pushes me into the ‘hate’ column with the book, overall, comes back to May’s description of, “What Is Modern Quilting?” In her own words, “Most quilters agree that it has something to do with a sense of experimentation. Modern quilters might take a traditional block or pattern and innovate to turn it into something “fresh.”” And here is my problem. Most of the quilts and concepts in the book are so derivative as to lack any sense of ‘new’ or ‘modern’. Instead, they fall back on ’MidCentury Modern’, that old standby from more than 50 years ago in the 1950’s and still so popular today. Even the fabric patterns are derivative of the 1950s, with some of those ugly, less-than-awe-inspiring 1970’s prints thrown in for good measure. Having started my own quilting journey in the 1970’s, I know all about ugly fabrics!

While some of the artists seem to have given great consideration to beauty, colour, line, and simplicity, or with a message,  (Denyse Schmidt, Denise Burge) others seem to define the concept of “Modern” as grabbing the ugliest fabrics in their rag bag and stitching them together with no thought for any of these concepts of design (names withheld to protect the innocent. Or my possible lack of artistic eye, whichever.)

Original Oil Painting
on Gallery Wrapped Canvas
“Chartres Street in Bloom” by Diane Millsap
48″ Wide x 30″ High x 1 1/2″ Deep
Art property of Diane Millsap. All Rights Reserved.
Click photo to go to website.

When it comes right down to it, if you are a fan of Gee’s Bend Quilts, you may or may not like this book. I love the originals; I am not so taken with most of the work in this book. There are some brilliant high-points in the book, such as when Nancy Crow talks about the quilts of Anna Williams, an elderly, illiterate quilters from Louisiana whose work, completed without patterns or rulers, shows absolute lyrical brilliance in her work.  All in all, this is definitely a book you should glance through before making a decision. Maybe my discomfort with the book is the fact that I am not a fan of the “Modern Art Movement” or “Deconstructivism. I have quite wide ranging tastes, but my favorites are works by artists such as Diane Millsap or Jos Coufreur.

Audrey Hepburn.
Acrylic On Canvas.
Painting by Jos Coufreur.
All Rights Reserved.
Available through Bryce Gallery, New Zealand.

This just doesn’t do it for me. Before you ask, I have widely diverse tastes in the works of quilters. Everything from the busy, ‘folk ‘ stylings of Susan Shie pieces to the meticulous Baltimore Album style of wonderful quilters like the often unacknowledged quilters who made complex appliqued Baltimore Album Quilts such as this one, in the Maryland Historical Society Collection. My personal favorites lean toward brilliant colour and intense quilting, such as anything at all by Jacqueline de Jonge. It’s all a matter of taste.

Susan Shie
Wooster, Ohio
Finished July 8, 2003
Painted on muslin fabric, not stretched or framed.
Painted with Airpen, brush on Deka Permanent fabric paints. All hand quilted, embroidered, and beaded.
12.5 x 12.5 inches
Property of Susan Shie. All Rights Reserved.
Photo courtesy of The Art of the Quilt.
Baltimore Album Quilt, c. 1848, catalog number 22, Maker(s) unknown, Baltimore, Maryland, plain and printed cottons, chintz, velvet; cotton, silk and wool embroidery, quilted in diamonds and embroidered, 282 x 275 cm, Maryland Historical Society, 1970.19.1, Gift of Mrs. C. Creston Cathcart)
Photo property of Maryland Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

Overall, in my opinion, this book is recommended to some, not to others. Look before you buy.


I received my copy of the book from Storey Publishing in return for an honest review.

All opinions are my own, all artworks are the property of the artists.

I’m Such A Goof

I could have sworn I created an “About” page for my blog. Really. I thought I did . . . well, that is what I get for not paying attention, right? (Wiping drool off chin) Although, I have to admit, getting my book reviews done was more important to me at the time. Looking back, when I started my blog, I probably copied my Goodreads “About” and meant to post it here . . . then got distracted.

Ooooooooooo    SHINY!!!!

I probably should have been born a Raven. ravenI love shiny things. Probably why I have so many UFO’s in my quilting room and in my knitting basket. I get all excited about what I am working on, start in on making it, then get a new idea, and wander off to start that project too. Then, of course, I pick up a book and all of a sudden everything else goes away and suddenly it is 4 in the morning and nothing has been accomplished at all except that I am ready to write a new book review!

Example: I am now working on the Heather Hoodie heather hoodie(I had to take the shoulders out and am going to have to knit the front and back longer from there – the sleeve holes were too tight), The Jester Tea Cosy from Really Wild Tea Cosies really wild tea cosiesby Loani Prior (just picked up her wild tea cosiesWild Tea Cosies at the library and want to make them all!) as well as the Paperboy Cardiganpaperboy from Interweave Press.

See? SHINY!!!!!!


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