Non Stop Knitting

The last 4 months have seen me do little typing–away from work that is–and no sewing. Why? Because I still have tendinitis in my left shoulder, which started in the middle of machine quilting my “Six Windows” piece, and that was 6 months ago.  And to make matters worse, I got a cortisone injection that only caused me more pain. So. Not much sewing going on for a while.

I have at least been able to knit and I made a simple hoodie for my nephew; here it is, hanging up after I blocked it:

051313 blog 1And here is Damian wearing it is a few days later in Madison, Wisconsin:

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This is the next sweater in progress, another top down hoodie for my nephew Luke; this one has a cable down the middle: I’m getting adventurous!

051313 blog 2Aside from finally having some knitting success–thanks to the good folks at Kiwi Knitting here in Tucson for their instruction–I’ve also had some success on a larger scale: I submitted my “Six Windows” quilt to the Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibition near Washington D.C. this summer, and it was accepted. I’m very pleased, as it’s a well known national show. And I know people will really appreciate seeing it.

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Quilt Fiesta 2013

This past weekend was the annual quilt show by the Tucson Quilter’s Guild: Quilt Fiesta. It was a fantastic show with lots of excellent work. This year I was happy to be recognized with a third place ribbon in the art quilt category. I’ve put work in past shows, just as good as my current piece, and wasn’t a ribbon winner…so I know there are always many excellent quilts at the show. It’s just the opinion of one judge.

Quilt Fiesta 2013 with ribbon

My friend Phyllis Schaefer, who helped me straighten out my piece, won first place in the small art quilt category. She said her art quilt, Night Bloom, started out as an experiment/sampler/practice piece. It’s really cool and a great example of how great art doesn’t have to take all year and lead to  a cortisone shot in the shoulder (what I need now due to tendonitis from machine quilting my piece). Some of the techniques include bleach discharge and fused applique, couching, some nice quilting with ancient native animal shapes…..I really appreciate how shapes and creatures seem to morph into each other. I told her it reminds me a bit of some of Sarah Seddon Boulet’s work.

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Here’s some detail….

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Also, I thought this was one of the most technically amazing pieces at the show, an original medallion quilt by a local quilter I haven’t met, but hope to meet, Keith Dommer, called “The Learning Quilt”. It’s just really an excellent design with a lot of nice repeating elements. Keith teaches at a local quilt shop and I may take a class with him, as I think I could learn a few things! This quilt won just second place in it’s category…..but don’t worry, he also took first place, too, in the same category with a different quilt!

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Here’s some more detail…..just the piece-work, the curved applique, the cool fabrics…

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And finally, I was happily surprised to see someone–Malcolm Neifield–has finally made a Dr. Who quilt….specifically, “Dr. Who: Adventures with the Tardis”. This was my favorite TV show in my late teen years (full disclosure, I was a nerd) and I was happy to see an original quilt honoring all the doctors….though of course I’m partial to the ones from way back when.

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Can’t wait for next year’s quilt show!

Holiday Summary Ends with a Quilt

For a lot of people, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is a whirl of family activity; I often opt out of Christmas, it’s just too stressful, but this year I traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for the holiday.

Here I am in Madison with my nephews Damien and Sebastian. We’re on top of 18 inches of snow and are about to go sledding. Luckily Sebastian and I wear the same shoe size: I was able to borrow his snow boots!

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After sledding, we returned home where we built snow forts; here’s Damian in the snow fort we built…

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…and here is Sebastian with is friend Cedric in the snow fort they built. They completely demolished me and Damian within minutes, and had us fleeing into the house to escape their arsenal of snow balls.


My brother Frank lives in Madison, he dropped by with his fiancee Leah; here they are with my nephews, Kasia and Benson, the family dog:

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After Christmas, I headed home to Tucson; Frank came out to visit and brought Leah, so she could meet my parents. My sister Roberta, her husband and 20 month old son came down from Portland; my brother John came in from Boston. We had dinner together at the Velvet Elvis in Patagonia, Arizona to celebrate Frank and Leah’s engagement. Too bad Sebastian, Damian and Kasia couldn’t be at dinner– here we all are:

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Robert and Luke then came to spend a few nights with me; I  made a roast chicken dinner and my brother Eric came over to join us:

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Before sunset, Luke joined me and Bearbear for a walk down at the Rillito wash:

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Here’s Luke in my back yard looking like quite the pugilist:

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The best news is that even with all the chaos of family visiting–and with some of the visits being predictably unexpected!–I was STILL able to finish my art quilt and meet the deadline of January 3rd.

This is how it looked hanging on my living room wall shortly before I dropped it off:

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Quilting is DONE

Why haven’t I posted in a month? I just had to bury myself in machine quilting in order to get my project done in time for January’s Quilt Fiesta quilt show in Tucson.

While I haven’t put the binding on yet, or straightened it out, here’s how it looks:


Here are a couple close-ups of the machine quilting:


Here’s another….


I’m off to Madison Wisconsin for Christmas and my flight leaves in just a couple hours! I’ll post more right after I get back 12-26-12.

Monika’s Bakery in Sonoita, Arizona is OPEN

I was in Sonoita yesterday to check out my parents’ new bakery; it’s really very beautiful. I helped make some raspberry cream muffins; here you see a big mixer bowl full of muffin batter, which I’m about to dole out into the muffin tins in the foreground:

Once the batter was scooped in, each glob of batter got a dollop of cheese mix (sweetened cream cheese) and strawberry jam; here’s my mom, looking great, probably because for once someone else made the muffins:

And here are the muffins baking away in the brand-new convection oven. I am totally sold on this type of oven, the baking turns out much better; I want a smaller version for my home!

Another Cochise Stronghold Hike: An Arizona Gem

When the late autumn sun is low in the south, it makes the western face of Cochise Stronghold seem a bit flat; here is our hiking destination, a ginormous jumble of boulders:

My mom’s youngest sister, Theresa, drove down from Phoenix to Tucson this past weekend: she picked me up, along with her friend Jeanie and her son Zach (who also live here), and drove us all to St. David, where me met up with my uncle Thomas, who lives there. My mom drove over separately from Sonoita. I took a photo of our group midway through our hike:

Theresa’s friend Jeanie was a real champ, here she is making her way through the boulders:

I just love the views from the western side of the Cochise Stronghold; this is a photo looking down on Treaty (or “Knob”) Hill:

Along the way there was one thing blooming, what looks like Chamisa, and the few pollinators left were numerous and busy:

And there was a lovely colored lizard headed down a rock face:

I’m sure there were other birds and animals in the area, but the sounds of our voices made them invisible. Personally, I’m happy if big predators like mountain lions stay invisible.

Here’s my mom, looking very sporty:

I’m already looking forward to my next trip back!


Recently, I posted about moving cases of home canning into my parent’s new bakery. Here are all the jars of jam, pickles, chutneys and sauces:

Yes, that is a shortwave radio. And don’t be fooled by some of the empty shelves, because on the full shelves the jars are stacked high and deep. Here’s my mom, hard at work; the dining room is taking shape and soon the bakery will be open soon:

Today my brother and I spent some time attaching price tags to all the jam. There are lots of jars, hence lots of hand-written price tags:

Here’s my brother Eric with my mom in the kitchen:

The new cappuccino machine arrived last Friday; my dad whipped up a couple really nice lattes for me while I was pricing:

And the patio is looking fantastic; doesn’t this look like a lovely place to have lunch? If you look through the gate to the faux, decorative hand-powered water pump in the background…..that’s the small residential house behind the bakery.

I’m looking forward to my first cheese danish, that’s for sure.

Two Sheets to the Wind

I just got back from a trip to the Boston area where I spent time with my Aunt Mary, who hasn’t been feeling that well. I had this idea that I’d enjoy some brief visits and have a cheerful impact, then maybe read the NY Times, watch some playoff baseball, enjoy the fall foliage and keep it simple…while managing to show up for the daily 5PM cocktail hour.

But Mary said she had a project for me, something a bit more nuanced than digging up perennials in the garden, and it looked like this, an old, damaged model sailboat:

Back when my cousin Michaela passed away in 2009 (read more here), her cats were living in Mary’s home. During their stay, the cats ate the sails on this treasured old model sailboat my paternal grandmother gave to Mary many years ago. Mary got the first boat he made, but eventually, all of my dad’s siblings got a model boat (the one that was in our family was lost years ago). I guess Mary was tired of looking at the shredded sails, and my task, if I accepted it, was to repair them.

And just to be clear, the leftovers were really ripped apart. I couldn’t tell a scrap of sail from rigging. I actually know nothing about model sailboat sail repair.

But I set to work using some imagination and looking at what was left of the original pattern. I used my cousin Megan’s dining room table, her sewing machine and iron; and I picked up supplies–canvas and several hemp twines–at a local fabric shop. I made my own pattern:

Here’s the job sail. You can actually move it around, too:

The main sail was a bit bigger and trickier. I was apply to keep the original waxed twine that was attached to the mast and boom. Here I am trying to get a somewhat straight seam on the main sail:

The whole project turned out much better than I anticipated. It took a while, but apparently I am able to channel my ancestors–when needed–to come up with some basic sailboat design principles.

The boat was well-received: here I am posing with the refurbished boat with my Aunt Mary:

I don’t know if you’d want to try and sail this on a pond anymore. It was once meant to be utilitarian, but I think it’ll need to serve a decorative purpose now….and ideally one with no more cats!

Moving Jam

Yesterday I borrowed a large Chevy pick up from an obliging work colleague and went to Sonoita to help my parents move 30 cases of jam:

Each case was about 50#;there were about 50 jars in each. My deltoids still hurt.  All the preserves are from the Grasslands Bakery, which closed last year when my folks sold the commercial building; bu tthey sold the building, not all the jam inside of it. Once the bakery was closed we moved all the jam to the extra bedroom at my parent’s home….where it’s been waiting, apparently, for a chance to sit on a store shelf again. Which is about to happen, because while the Grasslands may be forever closed, the very new Monika’s Home Bakery is about to open:

Above is the view of the small dining area in the new bakery; here, I’m looking down the hall from the kitchen door. Below, the view along the other side of the hall, where all the shelves are built and ready for a ton and a half of home canning:

Here are my folks in the kitchen:

And this is another view of the kitchen and the mixer and oven:

What’s very cool about my parents’ new bakery is the small residential home built on the rear part of the property, behind the actual bakery:

Right now, the plan is for the house to be used as a self-catering B&B or holiday rental; how convenient that a B&B should be located behind a….bakery! This is what the inside looks like:

What’s really lovely is the view from the back patio, which faces north; cool in summer, but guaranteed frosty in the winter; at that time of year–and at 5000 feet–the high desert has a real chill in the air:

Pet Therapy Visit

Bearbear and I were certified early this year as a pet therapy team through Pet Partners, the nation-wide organization for pet therapy teams.

Bearbear and I go to a hospital to visit, as well as the Ronald McDonald House, but for obvious reasons we take no photos. Today, however, we were outdoors at Tucson Medical Center’s annual NICU graduation picnic, for babies and their families who have had to spend time in our Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Here’s a nice shot of me and Bearbear in our volunteer uniform, one of my colleagues took the picture: