Archive for the ‘Other Fiber Arts’ Category


40.1 Thoughts on The Creative Place in Spring Hill

July 31, 2016

Hey blog readers, this post is a month back, but finally got pictures uploaded. I anticipate being able to post again this week now that computer pictures have been transferred over. A majority of this was written almost a month ago, and if edited correctly, you wouldn’t notice, but please forgive future & past tense switches that do not make sense if I missed an edit.


After my March – A – Long this year where I decided to focus on free motion quilting, several miniquilts of mine were quilted in time for our local quilt show in early July.

At the end of June, I was asked to attend a local mini retreat, which was perfect timing for the last bits of quilting needing to be done before the local quilt show.

In Spring Hill, Kansas, in a small downtown area (one block), quilter Kelly Ashton has a building she is calling The Creative Place, a retreat center for crafters.


Kelly has thought of almost everything a crafter/quilter would want, and frankly, I can’t figure out what she is missing.

I did miss meeting Kelly herself. She came the 2nd night when I was sleeping, and as I was driving away at the end of the retreat, I saw her just outside the front door with the last few remaining retreaters. I did however, see her hexagon presentation to our guild last year (or was it the year before?) and was impressed with her thought process and design even then.

Anyway, this place is great. It’s all one level, so it’s inhabiting like 2 “store fronts” of the downtown Spring Hill area.


The sewing space is huge. We had 16 – 18 people there One was a grandson who was visiting on one of the days, so mom could get some sewing time in (grandma was at the retreat). We could have had more day-trippers up to 25 may not feel that crowded. We weren’t actively using 7 tables for sewing, so they became quilt design “walls” and holding areas for fans.

But, Kelly also has her own movable design wall (out of PVC pipe), which most of us didn’t need, so sat unused behind one of the main cutting areas. Maybe the 2nd design wall was also hers, or maybe that was someone who brought one.


What also sat unused, but could have had lots of use, depending on the group, was a huge light table. A large handmade table with lights underneath and plexiglass top that several people could utilize all at the same time.


What sat underneath the light table, was a GO cutter, but no one also worked with that. I believe it was Kelly’s too, and I believe she wouldn’t have minded we use it either, but that was uncertain to those of us who noticed the cutter in our sewing area.


In the main sewing area, two bathrooms, with cute decorations, a front area next to the windows, several large ironing surfaces with storage available for use underneath, a back area with lots of local food menus / suggestions, a fridge.

In the front there was also a carpeted sitting area, which would be nice for sitting and chatting with handwork for some of the weekend.


Moving from the front room, to the left is the kitchen/bathroom/shower/area.  Toward the back of the place were two more bathrooms with step-in showers with handicapped railings.


Just along the hall were numbered hooks for towels, so each overnight guest wouldn’t get them mixed up, and provide a place for them to dry.


There were cubbies with extra blankets, and open spaces for people to store their things. Nice ikea shelves with lots of room!


The dining area is in the same “room” as the kitchen with four smallish tables and four chairs around each.


Kitchen was stocked with lots of plates, bowls, a brita water pitcher, general kitchen items, two coffee pots, electric water kettle, dishwasher, microwave etc. This was the first retreat that I have personally attended, where we didn’t have “set meals” where we got to go sit and eat together. People could come eat whenever they wanted, they did have to provide the food for ourselves, and there is enough places nearby for those who wanted to eat out.

The ladies coordinated suppers together, first night lasagna, second pulled pork, those meals were sit down with each other, but the rest was “on your own”. Totally different atmosphere than what I’ve seen at other retreats, but totally worth it! More sewing time!


The only minor downside was the sleeping area. It was very well done, but it was one large room with 16 beds. The only way I am calling it a downside is if there is a majorly loud snorer or if light sleepers have a hard time with noises.

Each bed had its own footrest where the bags/shoes/clothes would be kept. Each bed also had a numbered locker with a key on a bracelet so we could store personal/sensitive things. And on the locker were these low level lights so there could be “walking around” lights during the night that were enough to see to move around at night, but not too distracting for people who were sleeping.


Behind the sleeping area in the other window store-front was another sitting area with a couch, a couple of more chairs. We had it closed due to the heat. We ended up sewing on one of the hottest weekends of the summer (so far). Fans going constantly. Everywhere.

Also for the person sleeping next to the door to the kitchen area, if the light was on in the kitchen got a blast of light. Light was also a small problem for bathroom trips from the dark sleeping area if people were up and moving around the kitchen, it was sorta jarring due to the bright kitchen area lights. This could potentially be fixed with placement of some mobile kitchen lights that could be turned on during the normal sleeping hours, so the bright overheads could be shut off and the kitchen still be usable. Perhaps they were there and I didn’t see them?

So for those very, very small issues, the rest of the place here is amazing! Highly recommend a group to sign up for this retreat center!


Across the street was a quilt shop, the Quilted Sunflower, who opened up special on Friday night. Saturday afternoon, the group took a couple of hours going to a neighboring town’s quilt shop in Paola. I missed out on the trip into town because I was on a roll and I have been downsizing my stash a little this year. I did go to the Quilted Sunflower in Spring Hill.

And there are several quilt shops within 30-40 minute drive, for people out of the KC area to use.

This place was just so wonderful, I posted in another retreat’s FB page in case they need to move or want to add an extra retreat. Price seemed reasonable, the experience was lovely! Would do it again in a heartbeat.

Personally, I knew 5 of the ladies sewing with the group that was there, the rest were new to me, but some of them familiar – probably seen them at local quilt shows etc! The lady across from me brought a pattern and fabric for these cute strawberry blocks she was making! In strawberry jam jars! I didn’t realize she wasn’t staying on Sunday and so I didn’t get to say good bye.

Anyway, I highly recommend this place to stay. Reasonable price, lots of thoughtful decisions made on Kelly’s part make this place a really special place for quilters and other crafters to stay as a retreat center! ūüôā



38.6 Hot Air Balloon Festival – Quilts in the Sky

November 22, 2015

Hello! I am working back through some wonderful experiences I would love to share with you extending back this fall.

The first was a month ago, the Great Midwest Balloon Festival. Normally held in August, but this years’ later time gave us opportunity to view the pretty leaves of fall in addition to the pretty balloons.

I am pretty much a sucker for quiet events, balloons, fall, outdoors, the park.

I see balloons as “quilts in the air”. So pretty color combinations, I see bargello style ‘quilts’, applique, chevron, patchwork, jelly roll stripes all sorts of quilts and styles up in the sky.

Orange, yellow, and brown hot air balloon

There is usually a big festival with rides, vendors, food, competition.  Every year since I have planned attending, I have gone on my own for the morning competition, rather than viewing the pretty balloon glow that draws so many others.

This year, the balloon festival was near last year, on the west side of the city, near the speedway, but actually closer to our annual permanent location of the Renaissance Festival grounds.


The first day of the festival was misty and windy so it was cancelled for the early morning part of the day, not reopening until the night glows on Saturday.

Sunday morning, rather than head to the crowds, I took refuge in the local next door county park. It was so beautiful. The balloons had to travel past the park to head to the festival grounds.


I originally hesitated heading to the park due to the presence of “many people” on the southern park entrance that were racing a 5K blocking that entrance. Luckily, I got brave enough to try a more northern entrance, so I wasn’t doomed to see the pretty “sky quilts”.

I tore through the park, under the trees, walking to an “upper ridge” area in the middle of some kind of cross country track in the middle of the park grass.


From my vantage point, I could hear the hot air balloons pass over me. The black balloon with the rabbit, carrot, and parrot was “right above me” poking out of the trees, a little behind where I chose to stand for most of the morning.

I remember feeling in awe of that hot air balloon.


I saw balloons coming from the east of the morning, using the trees as interesting frames for some of my shots.


I have some close pictures, some far pictures. I snapped many versions of the same picture, just seconds apart, just to ensure I got a good picture. I kept wishing I had a DSLR.




Some balloons I have multiple full-on shots of, a few of the more interesting ones were out of frame a little to the south. I found I liked staying in one general area.

Another “park photographer” had set up not too far from me, and both of us were looking around behind, in front, to the side, trying to get the best of the morning.





Later in the morning, before the last of the balloons, I ventured near one of the park shelters. This got me a picture of a couple of balloons nearby the structure too.



I tried to zoom and tried not to zoom sometimes to get the bigger picture of the hot air balloons.



Sometimes I get a sense of the hot air balloon movement by looking at three consecutive pictures taken right after another.


I took way more pictures than I ever posted. It was so beautiful and magical!

If you want to see my whole flickr set, which is over 70 pictures, follow the link below:

GM Balloon Fest on flickr

Stay tuned and I will talk about actual quilts soon. I have several things to share!


20.1 A tiny bit of good in the world

September 30, 2011

I did a tiny bit of good in the world, and I got something nice too.

At work there was a craft table full of blankets, scarfs potholders, jewelery, and a portion of the proceeds of the sale go to Leukemia & Lymphoma support.

I didn’t make anything (didn’t know about it before hand really too much), but I did buy two items.

And since I decided I’m not a crocheter (anymore) that I will really like using these items this winter.

I now have a new hat & scarf combo, each bought separately.

I’ve never had a hat with so many holes before, so I am hoping I don’t decide to line it with some wild animal print soft fabric I bought at Hancock fabric.

Like this fabric

It is nice & soft and I haven’t known what to do with it.

But how does it look as a potential lining?

Hmm.  Maybe not.  Yes, my head is down looking at the floor.  One of the weirdest photos of myself, if I do say so.

In any event, lined or not, I feel good that I did a little bit of good today, if a little indirectly. ūüôā


16.0 Now THAT’s a planet!

June 7, 2011

I occasionally get Craftster updates and this time I saw this wonderful patchwork planet.  From the Froglin Faffing blog.

Reminds me of me, where the planning goes one way, and then at the end uses pure luck to complete it.  Nice graph, nice organization, I love squishies with a purpose.

What’s best?¬† Most fabrics are from her stash!


6.0 Podcast Episode 13 – LQS

May 2, 2010

Podcast Feed

Click on the Episode to listen to my Top 10 reasons for not posting.  As always, the home sewing front, notes about my commenters, and this week, the LQS.

Congratulations to the winner of the Moda Charm Pack Giveaway РVicki.  Vicki has a pottery business and is enjoying her hobby of quilting. 

Vicki suggested that she could make a charity quilt with the moda charm pack, and even talked about mathematics in music in the comment. 

Her name was randomly drawn by my overly complex system and it happened to correspond to lucky number 13, which also happens to be the number for this podcast! 

And the Moda Charm Pack also happened to be titled Collection for a Cause, so it was very wonderful to see all the stars aligning for this one giveaway.

Here is a mouse’s eye quilted by Vicki.¬† Look at all the subtle shading and color variations and block shapes!


Typically the words LQS stand for (in the quilting world) Local Quilt Shop. 

But I can take that to mean Local Quilt Show, or even (though not correct exactly) Lawrence Quilt Show.

Yes, my friends, I finally got to attend a local quilt show put on in the city of Lawrence, KS (hence the Lawrence Quilt Show)¬†by the Kaw Valley Quilter’s Guild.

Things to note about the show (or any show)

1.  Quilt Stories

Everyone has a story.  Quilts have a story, vendors have a story, quilt show audiences have a story.

2.  Confirmation

Seeing other people’s quilting and piecing ideas and techniques give you confirmation that you’re actually on the right track.¬†

You can see the quilts that people are drawn to, figure out what you like about it, and compare to your own quilting and piecing designs. 

If you can draw similar relationships in colors, spacing, piecing designs, color values, quilting techniques, you know you’re on the right track!

3.  Inspiration

You can borrow … err¬†… be inspired by quilting designs, piecing designs, color combinations, new techniques to try.

4.  Innovation

Looking at the vendors, you want to try to buy things you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere.¬†

This could be completed projects, specialty dyed fabrics, or services that you wouldn’t think of.


Specific Quilts referenced in the episode:

Red and Black Fans by Joyce Worgham Colton

 Close up of fans

 Sunbonnet Ladies by Margaret Barlow

Close up of sashing quilting.  Can I try something like this too?

Paula meets Karen by Sara Chappell

Each circle is highlighted by a small black fabric edge just under the piecing for the circle.  Subtle, but very effective!

Watermelon Vine by Ruth Powers

Lazy Afternoon by Ruth Powers

Bittersweet Memories by Ruth Powers

Up from the Ashes by Jane Buckley

These flowers are highly embroidered on the pieced fabrics.

Koi 1 by Jennifer Dixon-Perkins (hand painted)

Fairy Ferns by Cathy Audley (printed ferns on fabric)

The First Lady Iris by Cathy Audley (Iris hand batik) and Katherine’s Quilt¬†by Jan Mastenthin

Out of Bounds by Barbara Brackman (soccer quilt)

Shadow-boxing with the QBC’s, Kaffe & Friends¬†by Nan Doljac

Loaves and Fishes by Sara Chappell

William Morris goes Aussie by Carolyn More

Untitled by Carlotta Hemphill

Shelter in a Storm by Nan Doljac & KVQG members (I watched this get pieced together in rows at the sewing day!)


What Else?

A peek at a few more fractal pictures from the computer programs.

Made with Fractal Explorer  (this could make interesting fabric with spoonflower!)

Made with Fractal Explorer (my favorite image from the fractal programs)

Made with Fractal Explorer (this reminds me of a surreal sunset on the ocean behind trees)

Made with Fractal Explorer (love the spiral and bright colors near the spiral tip)

Beverly St Clair shared with me a pdf from a phD candidate from the Netherlands who also completed a DNA Quilt. 

The artist’s name is Marielle Otter and here¬†is the pdf to share with you.¬†

I’d have to learn more science to know exactly what happens in a methylated DNA sequence.¬† I know that a methyl group is a carbon and hydrogens, so it likely is about a change to the DNA sequence.

Marielle’s DNA quilt (above) and explanation of the symbols (below)

Sally from Palofish Adventures in Fabric has shared some great show ideas and is willing to collaborate on a few upcoming projects.  Check out her blog and patterns!

Book Review – Get out your Retro Glasses!

I found a wonderful book Super Quilter II, which is a sequel written in 1983 (yes 83!) that is a wonderfully complex book with lots of diagrams and math and tables for advanced quilting techniques.  Love it from a mathematical background!

This is from the era pre-rotary cutters, and describes the idea of why templates are not the same thickness as your sewing lines (much like Brye’s quarter inch podcast episode, and Sarah’s Stash Resolution episode 4) and how to mark your sewing lines on the fabric.¬†

The original work by Carla Hassel You Can be a Super Quilter. I haven’t tried out, but here is the link for it on amazon anyway.

New Podcasts!

Quilting … for the Rest of Us by Sandy

Stash Resolution by Sarah

Special thanks to my commenters & correspondents

Ethel, Lynn, Lady Rags, Janet, Gretchen, Bonnie, KellyV, Sarah, Jill, Robyn, Sally, Vicki, Beverly, and all the Big Tent gang!

Additional Music for the Show by Mevio’s Music Alley by David Parker titled No Matter What


2.9 Podcast 6 – Chemical Christmas & Christmas Memories

December 20, 2009

Podcast Feed

This Christmas I have 3 (4) ornaments to share with you.  One chemistry, one yarn, and two fabric wreaths (variations on the same idea).

The Chemistry Borax Crystal Snowflake Ornament

Growing crystals from super saturated solutions is something that you can do easily with household products.  A supersaturated solution is one that you force a liquid (typically liquid solvent) to dissolve more solid (called a precipitate  solute) than it typically can hold.  Most of the time, heating a solution can force the solution to dissolve more solids, and then as the solution cools, the solids come out of solution Рsometimes in the form of crystals.  Alton Brown says that even fudge is a crystal structure, so crystals are found everywhere this time of year.

To grow borax crystals


  • several pipe cleaners
  • something to cut pipe cleaners (NOT fabric scissors)
  • a string or fishing line
  • a pencil or pen
  • a wide glass jar
  • hot (boiling) water – just enough to almost fill up the jar but not too full
  • Mule Team Borax laundry booster
  • (You can substitute¬†sugar crystals for borax, but I think they take longer to crystallize)
  • (I wonder if you could substitute fabric pieces for pipe cleaners.¬† If anyone does this, I’d be curious to know)

Procedure for creating crystal snowflakes (or you could do a star of david, or other object you want to crystallize)

1.  Cut the pipe cleaner into sections to create the crystalized shape

2.  Tie your fishing line or string around one side of the snowflake.

3.  Place the pencil across the top of the jar such that your ornament hangs in the jar without touching the bottom. 

4.¬† Any snowflake too high up will not have water on it, and thus may not form crystals.¬† Make sure the sides don’t touch the jar either for more perfect crystals.

5.  Remove the snowflake once you get it to the right height in the jar. 

6.  Add water to the jar near the top (or you can put this in a microwave safe measuring cup that holds the same amount of water as the jar). 

7.¬† Microwave for at least three minutes.¬† If you’re worried about superheating your water, place a chopstick in the water as it sits¬†in the microwave.

8.  Use a hot pad or towel to CAREFULLY remove the jar from the microwave.

9.¬† Add borax crystals until you can’t get any more to dissolve and start to see borax staying on the bottom.¬† This takes a lot of stirring and a lot of patience.¬† I had to remelt my crystals after the first night because I was too impatient and I thought I had enough borax the first night.¬†

10.¬† Keep adding and stirring, and if you need to, carefully pour off some of the excess water so you don’t spill over onto the floor.¬† Remember that the snowflake is also going to displace some of the water so you may have more liquid than you realize.

11.  Add the food coloring to the jar, and then put in the snowflake into the jar.  (the following picture shows too little borax dissolved to get a good result.  Add more borax than this.

12.  Wait overnight at least for the solution to cool to room temperature.  If you have multiple jars / snowflakes you could try putting one in the fridge (be careful!) to see what type of crystals form.  Crystals forms differently with different amounts of starting temperatures and cooling rates.

13.  Take a paper towel and place the completed crystal on the paper towel giving it time to dry.  This snowflake you can see a little bit of blue tint to it with lots of crystals.

 Another ornament I made this year

The dragon boat ornament from Jennifer Ackerman-Heywood at CraftSanity.  I had black yarn available, and I used a piece of cardstock and cut out her template on her site.

Christmas Wreaths made from fabric scraps

Styrofoam Wreaths – Wreath Variation #1

  1. Take a styrofoam wreath shape Рcut out from various styrofoam leftovers from presents!
  2. Take scraps of fabric 2 inches square or so Рpinked edges look nice here
  3. Wrap the fabric right side towards a pencil
  4. Dip the pencil in Elmer’s¬†glue (or maybe Eileen’s tacky glue)
  5. Stick the fabric into the styrofoam
  6. Repeat the process until the wreath is completed

Wire Wreath – Wreath Variation #2

  • Bend a wire hanger or pipe cleaner into a circle

  • Use small strips of fabric, cut into sections
  • Tie each section of fabric around the wire
  • Repeat for all the fabric pieces around the outside of the wreath.


This particular wreath is a little messy.  With more time and patience, these can look quite nice.

Other chemistry christmas ornaments to try

Additional Resources

Christmas Memories

One christmas memory from each of the people in my immediate family that is no longer with me.

Grandpa – Polka music (Watch out it’s loud!)

Grandma – Cross stitched snow globe angel – Free Design at Black Swan Designs

Mother – Lighted candle angel

Grandma – Amazing Grace church


2.0 Well I used to Crochet … sort of

November 30, 2009

All the quilting sites – okay not ALL of them – most of the quilting sites have people who are dabbling into crochet / knitting / other fiber arts.¬† I used to cross stitch – probably the first “type” of craft I gravitated towards and stuck with.¬†¬†However when I was¬†young – before learning to cross stitch, a friend of mine taught me how to chain stitch crochet.¬† I remember just¬†making one long chain of a variegated rainbow yarn.¬† But I was ittle and¬†didn’t know how to go¬†back and single or double crochet.¬†

So in college, one of my (scientific) roommates taught me how to single and double crochet.  She was working on granny squares.  Well the following summer I tried making granny squares.  I got about 4 of them done, had problems seeing how it was all going to come together in a large blanket form, and I abandoned the project.

I (somehow) forgot about my biggest crochet project that I started the following school year that was a crocheted¬†afghan intended to be¬†for my upcoming wedding.¬† Well it was for myself so it didn’t HAVE to be done by the wedding, had nothing to do with the wedding, but that was a goal of mine – to finish it before I got married.¬†

I worked on it before falling asleep in the bunk bed in the dorms, worked and worked and worked on it.¬† Cheap yarn – hey I was a college student – didn’t count the rows or the stitches, didn’t have a pattern, couldn’t read a pattern, didn’t have a final plan, but I would come up with one for each row.

I don’t know why I have it in storage.¬† It’s nice¬†and heavy, and extra long, and not quite the size I imagined it would be when I made it.¬† The edges are all frilly and weird, going in and out, and there was a triple crochet row that I skipped three stitches periodically and the resulting holes from that row mean that when I sleep under the afghan my big toe gets caught in the hole.¬† Hmm.¬† Maybe I do know why it’s in storage after all. (So far in storage that it’s not worth digging though the bottom of my closet and everything in front of the closet to get a picture.¬† Maybe someday).

After that, I got smart and worked on homespun yarn that is bumpy and completed two scarfs that are full and heavy and wonderful.¬† I found the bumpy yarn wasn’t as hard to work with as I thought, and it HID the fact that my stitches are uneven on the sides from lack of counting.¬†

I am still not sure why no pattern or no counting was done on the scarfs.  I did counted cross stitch at the time completing one project in about 2 years that had tons of stitches in it.  And I had to count that project.


I thought I’d share.¬† Not all my adventures have been done in a well planned thought out scientific manner.