It’s a Mystery
Oct 11th, 2017 by Wendy







It’s a mystery: I won Art Fair bucks, then this wonderful Kate Spade acrylic ampersand, but not the lottery. Okay, not so much of a mystery- I forgot to buy any lottery tickets. But you know what I mean.



IMG_2658 LR






It’s a mystery: In the same month, the sky is blue with giant sunflowers in the garden over In The Valley, but here at home, on the eastern side of the mountains, the bird bath is frozen every morning.








It’s a Mystery: I went to this restaurant, BibIM BAP House twice, before I realized my other fave spot, Ike’s Box Cafe, was across the street. In my defense, across and DOWN the street. Both are on Chemeketa Street in Salem, downtown. The Korean restaurant has Korean, Japanese, and other food options, and they close Monday nights to feed homeless people under the Marion Street Bridge.  Ike’s Box is in a beautiful old building, with large and small rooms, where you can almost always find a quiet spot.


This is 66- 1LR

This is 66- 2LR






It’s a Mystery: When did 66 happen? I’m wearing my Pendleton Wool coat, made in 1986, with old fashioned tailoring and complete with underlining, lining, and horse hair interfacing. I had some Mad Sewing Skills back in the day! Then there is my Eileen Fisher outlet store purchases from last year (cashmere sweater, very lightweight merino wool t-neck), and black stretch pants that I did not get to wear in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Studio Art Quilt Associates National Conference because I was in bed with Influenza B coughing my guts out. And my black lace up Born Boots.


Improv Patchwork by Maria Shell






It’s a Mystery: But not for long- Maria Shell’s new book, Improv Patchwork, with C&T Publishing, can be preordered now. Beginning on October 16, at, you can follow the Improv Blog Tour. Get the full schedule at, or on any of the blog tour websites along the way. Return right here October 22, for my contribution.


making units #4LR

making units #2LR







It’s a Mystery: Even though I’m busy cutting & sewing, and this is my original idea, I don’t know what will become of the hundreds of units. I’m hoping that by showing snippet photographs, you’ll experience the mystery with me. Like anything else, there is always a balance between having a plan and being flexible. Or between letting things happen and evaluating the choices. It’s not magic, but with effort, the result can be magical. I must sign off and start laying the pieces…..



Gravenstein Applepaloosa & Being Fearless
Sep 3rd, 2017 by Wendy

It all began in the summer of 1973. I heard about Gravenstein apples making the best apple pie. With a short growing season, I decided- on the spot- to make 50 apple pies! With the Julia Child recipe for pie crust, and the Joy of Cooking recipe for apple pie, and the help of April (later became my mother-in-law), I dove right in. (In true 1970’s ‘back to the land’ style, when we were all Martha Stuart and didn’t know it yet, I used the peels & cores to make apple jelly, and the leftover apples became apple sauce.)

I should have been afraid to take on this challenge. I had little experience making any kind of pie, and when I did make pie, I used that (awful) stuff in a box to make crust.  And it was a big investment in butter, apples, and other ingredients. Yet I was confident I could do it.

In the same way, I might have been afraid to tackle a king size, floor-to-the-floor quilt like the floor of the Taj Majal, when I’d only made a baby quilt up to that moment in 1971. But a Stanford University student wanted to hire me to make a quilt for his girlfriend….and I thought ‘how hard can it be?’

Taj Mahal







I can’t claim to be fearless because I’m afraid of many things, mostly things that never happen (and that’s another topic for another day). But when it comes to creative leaps and ideas, I’ve enjoyed a mostly life-long trust in my ability to bring it to life (there have been a few dark moments, but again, another story for another day).

In the last two days, I made 19 pies, pie crust roll ups (thanks, Mom, for this treat), and applesauce. The pies and most of the roll ups went into the freezer raw. Sometime over the next year, the time will be right for fresh apple pie or crust pastries. (Thanks, David, for wrapping the pies and getting them safely into the freezer.)

Here are the photos showing the sequence. Oh yes, the cats are always in the middle of everything. There is still time for you to make your own Gravenstein apple pies- but don’t hesitate- the season is almost over. OR, dive into your next maker project undaunted and unafraid.


Crust, dry ingredeintsLR

dividing crustsLR

prep applesLR







ready for top crustLR


ready for freezerLR

in the freezerLR






cats helpLR

pie crust rollsLR

apple sauce 1LR

apple sauce doneLR






No apple jelly this year—

peels, coresLR


Hello Eclipse, Good-bye August
Aug 29th, 2017 by Wendy









Since it was crazy where I live near the path of “totality”, I decided to go over to Salem and experience TOTALITY not just a partial eclipse. WOW! We nearly didn’t see the crescent shadows on the ground from the second story deck. Our heads were spinning around trying to take it all in: the corona, the deep indigo sky, stars, bats, the blue light (turned our white sheet and white chair blue).









What’s an Eclipse Party without Eclipse Shortbread Cookies? Less calories! We saw these on the Internet and just had to make our own version, with only the best butter, flour, sugar and chocolate.


high desert bloomLR

over in The ValleyLR






I can’t emphasize enough the differences between living at high altitude in the high desert VS living over in The Valley where yes, it does rain a lot, but jeez, the flowers, the colors, the lush life!!!



Deanies WeeniesLR


really good creme brulee Wild Pear SalemLR






While in Salem, I found this wonderful manhole cover on the sidewalk, in downtown. I attended a fundraiser and had to try “Deanie’s Weenies”. They use a bun from a local bakery, made just for them, buttered, toasted and filled with deliciousness. YUM. A lunch at Wild Pear Restaurant ended with creme brulee. I meant to photograph it BEFORE I ate it, but it was too good!


sillydogartglasscomLRart in high desert 2017LR

James Nemnich 2017LR






Back home, I browsed the Art in the High Desert on opening day. I bought a small “reverse painted fused glass” magnet by Silly Dog Art Glass (Cheryl Chapman, That night a phone call revealed I’d won $100 in “Art Bucks”. Back the next day, I had to decide how to spend my moola: a sweatshirt? more fused glass? a ceramic salad bowl? jewelry? something practical? I decided to go with whimsical at the booth of James Nemnich. Check out his website to see his larger pieces: I selected this small original piece of art because it reminded me of a much larger piece in his booth. And because it made me smile.

One Thing Leads to- well- Napkins
Aug 14th, 2017 by Wendy

Although I made cloth napkins for my son while he was still in college (he’s now 30 and still has them), we have been steadily using paper napkins. Recently, he asked me why. That question led to- napkins.

Lots of napkins. I decided to raid my collection of mostly Japanese contemporary home decorative weight fabrics, some cotton, some linen, some a blend. I heard the voice of my high school sewing teacher telling me to “pull the threads, don’t cut”. So I did- I pulled threads to outline the 17 3/4″ squares that would become napkins.

Why 17 3/4″ Because most of the pieces were 1/2 yard cuts, and they frayed in the washer/dryer, and this number was the largest I could get. The result: 16″ square napkins, with mitered corners and machine topstitching.

I started with 3 napkins from one of the fabrics. I figured I’d use this fabric experimentally, working out the kinks and errors as I went:








Then I started on the set of ten new napkins for my son and girlfriend, to go with their Fiestaware table settings. The place settings and accessories are all different (solid) colors, so I thought prints would be delightful. They are!










I’m going to say it: it’s not that hard to do! The truth is, the second five went a LOT faster than the first five. Around napkin 7 or 8, I thought, this is a breeze! By napkin number 10, I thought: no more napkins… ever!!! But I am still making napkins for us, so one of these days…. Meanwhile, here are the steps I took.

I did not document one napkin from start to finish because- honestly– I kept forgetting to take step-by-step photos. However, by the time I finished all ten napkins, I had snapped a photo of all the steps:

1) pulling threadsLR

2) mark line 3:4LR

3) fold to the lineLR

4) 1st fold- 3:8LR

5) 2nd fold- marked line 1 from outside edgeLR










ONE: Pull a thread across the fabric- it will bunch and gather up, which is okay. Flattening it out will make it stand out from the other threads. If the thread breaks- either use a pin to pull up that thread again OR cut along the line you can see, then pull out the next thread to pull. Repeat for all four sides. Don’t iron at this stage- you don’t want to stretch it. 

TWO: Mark the first “hem” line with chalk. My first fold is 3/8″, so I marked the hem line at double that- 3/4″. Repeat for all four sides. (Adjust for your hem allowances. Keep in mind, the hem is folded twice.)

THREE: Fold to the chalk line and pin along each of the four sides. Press. I used a pressing cloth and placed the iron right over the pins, with my wooden clapper to trap the steam, of course.

FOUR: Work in batches. I made 5 napkins at a time, repeating each step with all five. It’s Assemby Line Time!

FIVE: Draw the next chalk line for the second fold. I drew the next line at 1″ from the outside edge. I folded over each side, pinning as I went, then pressing (with a press cloth). The corners get mitered, so they don’t have to fold neatly or prettily at this point.


6) folded, pressedLR

7) open up, crease miterLR

8) trace crease with pencilLR

9) sew seam, marked lineLR

10) trim seamLR










ONE: Now that the sides have been folded, pinned and pressed, you are ready to “miter” the corners.

TWO: Open up the corner t0 the first folded edge, then fold the point over to make a “half square triangle”. It’s easy to line up the point with the intersection of the chalk lines. Finger press the crease of the fold. (I tried pressing the crease- didn’t work for me.)

THREE: Open up the corner again. I lightly drew a pencil line on the fold so I could see it better.

FOUR: Fold the corner of the napkin right-sides-together, lining up the pencil/fold lines. If you pin the sides together first, it makes the pencil lines match up better. Sew a seam along the pencil/fold lines. (If you’ve read about my Pin Poke method- use it here to match up the fold/pencil lines.)

FIVE: Trim the seam allowance. I also cut off the tip of the seam allowance (NOT shown in this photo) but be careful- it would be easy to cut through the seam line.


11) turn RS outLR

12) poke out corner, finger press, pinLR

13) basting on foldLR

14) m. topstitching from frontLR

15) M_topstiching, looks on backLR










ONE: Finger press the seam open and turn the edge right-sides-out.

TWO: Gently poke out the corner. I use semi-pointy scissors. If needed, I’ll use a pin to pull out the final fabric in the point. Pin on either side.

THREE: Using a long running stitch and basting thread, baste (by hand) along the very edge of the fold. Consistency is important.

FOIR: Turn over the napkin: It’s magic! The thread basted stitching lines give you x-ray vision! Okay, not quite. But the stitched line shows you where the fold/edge is on the wrong side of the napkin. By sewing just to the right of the basting stitches, you’ll also be sewing right next to the fold/edge on the wrong side.

FIVE: Check to make sure the stitching catches the edge on the wrong side. Remove the basting thread. Press the napkin, fold as desired, and announce “Ta Da” to the cat sleeping near the sewing machine. Now you know what I did as I finished each napkin!!!

Pathway Ends….
Aug 3rd, 2017 by Wendy








I have a variety of round trip loops for my morning walks, depending how far or which direction I want to go. One way to get home is the path that announces “Pathway Ends”.

The path ends, but there are trails through the woods leading back to my house. Or I could turn around and circle back on another path to home.

It reminded me of developing an idea for a quilt. Sometimes we do hit a dead end. We can give up, turn around, or find another way.

I’ve been playing around for over a year now with what I call the “interlocked braid” pattern. I’ve seen it called “fence rail” and “herringbone”. This old pattern (over 100 years) got revamped in the last 30 years or so with the French braid version, eliminating the “interlock” feature & the partial seam construction.

I’ve been exploring the idea, looking for variations that make me smile. I’ve hit some dead ends, circled back around, looked for other options- all to find the path that is right for me and my inner vision.

Here are the variations since June 2016–

• I didn’t like the chunky size of the first rectangle. • I made the rectangle skinnier and added a black/white print edging. This helps tame the chaos of the prints and creates a continuous colored zigzag line. • I tried adding areas of the same color rectangle- oh, that idea went nowhere! • Most recently I added the same fabric in one continuous zigzag. I like the way it looks! Judith in Portland (@judithquinngarnett on Instagram and worked her photoshop magic to show me a larger sample. I really like it!

What will happen next? I hope it doesn’t take a year to find out!!!

old-size-2-unitslrnew-size-2-unitslrtrial 2LRI. Braid variation trialLRWendy_interlocking_2LR

2017 SAQA* Benefit Auction
Aug 2nd, 2017 by Wendy

The 2017 Benefit Auction for the Studio Art Quilt Associates* international organization will take place from September 15 through October 8. The Auction will kick-off at 2pm ET on September 15 with Diamond Day bidding – an early bird opportunity to purchase ANY quilt for $1000.  Last year, the auction raised almost $80,000 to support our exhibition and outreach programs.

Check out SAQA at and seriously consider joining. You will be part of an international organization that supports a creative life style in a variety of interests, pursuits and styles.

SAQA invites members to put together their own “Dream Collection” of six quilts based on a theme. On a lark, I browsed the donations and quickly put together a short list of quilts.

Was it hard to limit myself to six? Oh yes it was!

In no particular order, here are my six quilts on the theme of “Abstractions”.







Upcycled Mash-Up Tee Shirt (and more)
Aug 1st, 2017 by Wendy

I don’t know why I woke up with the idea to make another of my upcycled mash-up tee shirts, especially because it has been so hot here, but I did.

I’d love to be able to design my own clothes, but I can’t. Using existing clothes and patterns is something I can do. If you aren’t already doing something like this, you might want to try it! Here are photos of my latest long sleeved shirt finished yesterday, and more photos, because once I got started on this topic, I couldn’t quit!

I made this ages ago with Vogue #8497 by Marcy Tilton pattern, a knit dress I made in the early 90’s, and a thrift store XXL tee shirt (plus the hems of another tee shirt).  I had an idea to adapt it to make my long sleeve mash-up tee shirt.

ZZ shirtLR







I tested the concept of using a purchased 1 yard knit strip (50% off!) and a thrift store knit turtleneck. I liked the combination!

proof of conceptLR







I adapted the Vogue pattern by overlapping the zigzag pattern pieces to make a one piece front and back. The short sleeve is part of the pattern fronts and backs. It seemed likely I could just cut off the sleeves of the turtleneck and attach to the ends of the short sleeves. Game on!

Cooper the Cat was sure he could help me layout the patterns. One yard was barely enough, but like Tim Gunn says, I made it work! (Okay, I had to eliminate the side placket of the pattern- see what I did instead later.)

pattern layoutLR







I scrounged around for another tee shirt to steal the neck ribbing. I found one of my old but not worn out gray tee shirts and amputated the neck ribbing, leaving enough for the seam allowance. It’s strange to me how flexible neck ribbing is- it has always worked just fine!

attaching neck ribbingLR

finished neck ribbingLR







Next I added the bottom of the thrift store tee to the bottom of my shirt fronts and backs. When you cut off the bottom of ready made tee shirts, they are already hemmed and ready to go! I’ve noticed that people often include their feet in their Instagram photos- Cooper says paws are cute too!

bottom bandLR







I removed the sleeves at the seams, so I could figure out how to cut the edge. First, I tested how it would work. Then I trimmed the “dropped shoulder” end of the sleeves and sewed them right sides together to my growing tee shirt (sewed the side seams first). I used solid black fabric to make the placket for the “high-low” side seams. All good! But I can’t wear it for a few months….

finished 1LR

finished 2LR

detail BLR







I’ve had mostly successes with my upcycled mash-up shirts. (I never photographed my one failure.) Here I am with Janie Vangool from Uppercase Magazine at Spring Quilt Market 2016 with my upcycled mash-up shirt, using purchased striped yardage and thrift store tees AND Vogue #8877 (Very Easy Very Vogue) pattern.


Janie, WendyLR

Vogue 8877LR







This is probably my all time favorite shirt- made with 4 thrift store men’s shirts. Is started with the black shirt, because it fit me the best. Then I kept swapping “body parts” and sometimes using them in the “wrong” places. The red checked sleeves came with the button tab feature. Like I said, I can’t create my own patterns, but I can play with thrift store clothing!

Short Sleeve OptionLR

Back Shirt 2015LR







I even made an upcycled mash-up quilt for the kitties using worn Smart Wool and other fancy socks. The feet had holes, but the “legs” were fine. I flattened out the legs and stitched them to batting to make the quilt top & back (one piece). I stuffed the quilt with an inner pillow made from the hole-y sock soles. Now that’s using up all the parts!








This is my most recent upcycled mash-up tee shirt, using 8 of my favorite old but not too worn tee shirts. When I finished it, it was way too big for me, but I found a way to take out 8″ in the width. It’s fun – but loud – to wear.

8 Tee upcycle FrontLR

8 Tee upcycle BackLR







I’ll end with this photo- showing me around age 16 with my first upcycled mash-up clothing- a raincoat using bread wrappers. I flat-felled the seams so it truly was waterproof. In the side by side photo, I’m wearing an upcycled tee shirt under the linen overshirt, around age 63-64. It’s crazy fun to think I’ve lived a creative life since a young girl!







*Thanks Judith Q. Garnett of Portland for mashing-up these two photos for me! @judithquinngarnett and

Cats and Lemons
Jul 21st, 2017 by Wendy


Cooper the Cat is “king of the Cal King bed”. How sweet of us to provide him with such a nice cat bed!

And, Cooper is still obsessed with fresh corn on the cob. No corn on the cob during the fall, winter or spring, but come summer, Cooper still loves corn!


king kitty cooper 2017LRcooper still obsessed with cornLR







Living in a “rural” area, it’s not easy to find a fresh lemon when you need one, especially in winter. So I buy in bulk, when lemons are harvested in the USA, and freeze the juice and zest. I bought the zester over 15 years ago- it’s still sharp and easy to use. The lemon squeezer gadget is new – I found it in Bend at Gingers’ Housewares in the Old Mill Shopping Center, across from REI and next door to the Spice Shop. It’s heavy (must be good!) and is ratcheted, which means I don’t have to squeeze as hard to get the same effect.




zest packagesLR

rinds, juicerLR







I freeze the zest and the lemon juice. One zest package equals “the zest of 1 lemon”. Each ice cube is 2 tablespoons. This means we can enjoy lemon-mustard-herb chicken in the dead of winter or almond butter cookies with lemon zest. And much more.









I’ve been in a bit of a lull since recovering from Influenza B and having another vein procedure. I’m on the mend and starting to poke around the sewing room, even finishing some things, and starting more. Photos coming….


What Happens in Lincoln, Nebraska……
Jun 4th, 2017 by Wendy

Before flying to Lincoln, Nebraska on April 26, for the national Studio Art Quilt Associates conference, in conjunction with The International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, I started fooling around with these two fabrics and the triangle shapes. I’m in the process of quilting the finished top now— so stay tuned to see how it turned out! P.S. I found the perfect Sulky Blendable thread in my big box of Blendables— white, black and blue!!!!










In retrospect, Pat and I should have known there would be trouble when a woman, who walked on the plane in Denver, had to be assisted off the plane and put into a wheelchair, after coughing her guts out during the flight. Everything was fine for Wednesday and Thursday- a group of us trekked around downtown Lincoln, including going to the Great Plans Museum to see a quilt show and taking Uber to Sweet Minou to buy coffee and chocolate.

1st Stop Lincoln

Downtown LIncoln 1

Downtown Lincoln 2

S. Minou 3







Notice the brick buildings and the wide, clean, sidewalks. I waited for people to pass- no the town is not deserted! I started following Sweet Minou on Instagram before arriving in Lincoln and we all agreed, it was worth the short Uber driver.

S. Minou 2

S.Minou 1







I presented one of 16 “Lightening Talks”. These are fast paced slide shows, with 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide. With 20 seconds between talks, there was just enough time to scoot to the stage and start speaking. I love this format, which forces the speaker to carefully choose what to say. No rambling with only 20 seconds!!! But 20 seconds is quite long enough to say something meaningful. I ended my talk with this image- and thought- maybe my 16 year old self would not be surprised what my 60 something self was getting up to!








But by Friday night, we were both sick with a respiratory illness, complete with severe aching neck and body, chills and fevers, headache, extreme “yuck” when standing up, etc. I missed the private tours at the Quilt Study Center, the banquet dinner and spotlight auction, hanging out in the lobby with fellow SAQA members, meals, and much of Sunday morning. On Saturday afternoon, I did drag myself across the street to Misty’s to get a beef burger and fries. I stopped to take a photo of a cool place to hang out on the street corner.

Downtown LIncoln 3

Downtown LIncoln 4

Misty's burger







I did get to hear the Michael James keynote speech Sunday morning. Our extra day in Lincoln were spent at Urgent Care to discover we had Influenza B and the hotel lobby and airport. It was a miserable flight home through Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Redmond. Then followed the next four weeks of misery with Influenza B and recovery and doctor visits and labwork and inhaler use. 

Near the end of May I woke up in the Land of the Living!!! I rustled up a failed upcycled tee shirt that ended up way too large for me. Even though it was the same size as the purchased shirt that I used as a model, it didn’t drape at all. The shirt stayed stuffed in the sewing room closet until last week, when I had insight about taking 8 inches out of the width while maintaining the overall integrity of the pattern.

Here is the front:

8 Tee upcycle FrontLR

detail front centerLR

Detail front right LR







Here is the back:

8 Tee upcycle BackLR

detail back centerLR

detail Back rightLR

detail Back leftLR







Hopefully, I will stay well!!!

A Mansard Roof Chocolate Cake & More
Apr 13th, 2017 by Wendy







For a family dinner, I made the family recipe for a chocolate cake. I used Seco cocoa, per my son’s tweeking of the recipe. It was delicious! However, I didn’t realize the oven rack was tilted- so the cake baked tilted- somewhat like a Mansard Roof, or perhaps, a Half Mansard Roof.


E Quilt in SalemLR

EQ in SalemLR






While in Salem, the E Quilt (E-Taupia or E-Some! or ???) went to live with Ericka. I’m really thankful I got to be a part of this collaboration with 3 women (mother, aunt and niece).









A trip to IKEA led to this purchase of three fabrics, a soap dispenser, and one more folded little purse. Back home, the dispenser fits right in!




back deck 2LR







We woke up to snow this morning! It felt a little like an alien world, with snow-frosting glopped on the bitter brush and trees. Can’t resist showing the “before” snow pile with the “current” snow pile left today. Oh yeah, so sad to see that pile go (not). We haven’t inspected closely, but it looks like our deck survived!

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