We can forgive ourselves …

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself for not knowing something when you didn’t know it.  And being grateful instead that you have finally learned the lesson helps too.

Every since I begin making quilts in the spring of 1996, I have admired the machine quilting skills of others, especially those who make gorgeous quilts on their domestic machines at home.  I machine quilted the first quilt I ever made, be it ever so badly, and after that almost always sent my quilts out to be quilted by a long-arm professional.  I’ve never been disappointed with the results as I’ve always found long arm quilters who were exceptional at their craft, and adding their machine quilting skills to my piecing and design work was a collaboration I was happy to acknowledge. But as time has gone by, I’ve started making more quilt tops than I have money to get them quilted, and I also really started feeling this desire to make the entire quilt myself, to know that I was the creator of this quilt, for better or for worse, from beginning to end.

In November 2015 I took two machine quilting classes from Cindy Souder at the Minneapolis Sewing & Quilting Expo.  It would not be an understatement to say that experience changed my life.  Yes, she taught techniques, ones that I could duplicate at home and get good results – everything from using a walking foot to free motion quilting to using traced patterns.  She gave lots of pointers, some of which I already knew, like the value of using quilting gloves (which work exceptionally well for me), using a silicone slider on the machine bed, and about ergonomics and so forth.  But what she really taught me was something far more useful and elusive.  She taught me confidence.  And that is no small feat!  She taught me how to get over that fear of looking at the quilt and the machine and going “Nope – someone else is gonna do that!”  I left those two classes absolutely knowing that I could, in fact, quilt my own quilts and, with practice, actually become good at it.

Now, if you know me, you know that these classes were where I also fell in love with the Bernina 770QE that we used in class to do all our work.  I ended buying one of the classroom machines, as they offered them at a 33% discount when the weekend was done.  And I was the only person who had sewn on machine #12 that whole weekend, so I knew very well how perfectly this machine worked.  And it was a joy to get it home finally and begin some practice pieces.  My greatest creative accomplishment this past year was finishing a quilt for Diana and Jonathan.  It was a huge quilt, some 95″ x 115″, and was entirely quilted by me over a period of two to three months.  It gave me a great sense of satisfaction to get that quilt done, and I had a lot of fun sewing it too!

A few months ago, I decided to make some pieced and quilted place mats.  I wanted to use some of those beautiful heirloom-style stitches on my Viking Opal 690Q.  Viking has some gorgeous decorative stitches that seem unique to them.  I finished piecing the place mats some time ago, and pulled them out this week to figure out how to quilt them and get them finished.  Since my 77QE was set up for another project, I decided to use my trusty old Bernina 1630, the sewing love of my life.  I had recently acquired a #29 foot for my 1630, the clear quilting foot, and figured the smaller harp size on the 1630 wouldn’t present too much of a challenge for the small-ish place mats.  I threaded up the machine, put on the new foot and my gloves and finally sat down to quilt them this weekend.  And you know what?  That 1630 free motion quilts like a DREAM!  Utterly smooth, quiet, perfect tension top and bottom – just exquisite.  And for 22 years I have had that machine, and for most of those 22 years I have wasted time wishing that I was a good machine quilter.  But if you can never allow yourself to be a beginner at something, to even be bad at it, then how in the world are you ever going to gain the skill necessary to become good at it?  And as I sat there thrilled at the results I was seeing taking place in front of me, I was also keenly aware of the time over these years that I wasted simply wishing to develop a skill for which I already possessed everything I needed – but I just didn’t know it.  Perhaps if I had trusted myself a little more, I might have made a few more tentative attempts, might have learned how wonderful that 1630 really was for what I wanted to do.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love the extra space and the super large bobbins of my 770QE – both things make good results easier and faster to achieve.  But, honestly, when I think of the table runners, place mats, baby quilts, and other quilts I could have spent my time learning and working on, perfecting skills, instead of wasting those years only wishing for it … well, it gave me great pause.

Like I said, sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself for not knowing something when you didn’t know it.

Here it comes!

Well, it’s a little late but the snow arrives tomorrow.  Frankly, I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now.  And I’m a little disappointed that we are only getting a bit of snow and not the blizzard conditions west of here – I’d love a good snow day!  Are you ready?  I am!

What a beautiful night!

Have you been outside to see the gorgeous supermoon?  It is spectacularly clear here and the moon is so amazing I hope you get a chance to see it!


It turns out that it isn’t as easy to quit Facebook cold turkey as I thought.  I deleted the app from my phone, then added it back two days later.  But this time I put it on the last page of phone icons so I never see it when I turn on the phone.  But I miss the small bits of their lives through the day.  So now I only go to FB when I feel like I have the strength to cope with whatever I see there.  And it’s getting better, I’m not feeling as consumed with dread.  Maybe I will come back soon, but for tonight I am not missing the near constant available distraction of looking at my FB feed.  I’ve made a lovely Sunday night dinner of pork roast, roasted sweet potatoes, and green beans.  And I’ve got my fuzzy slippers on drinking a nice cup of my favorite Oolong and enjoying watching some relaxing TV after doing a bit of sewing.  Maybe more of that later.


Let’s dust this thing off and see if it still works

Over the past several years I have slowly abandoned using my blog except for the (very) occasional post.  But I have sickened of the onslaught to my senses that is the reality (for me) of using Facebook on a daily basis and I’ve determined to reclaim some of my sanity by leaving Facebook, at least for the most part, completely behind me.  But there are friends and loved ones far flung throughout this world (and near too) that I wish to stay connected with and it hardly seems fair to let the insanity of the world rob us of that.  So I’ve dusted this darn blog off, replaced some old plugins that weren’t good anymore, and hopefully can keep this a more positive, upbeat place – a place where hope, creativity, encouragement, kindness and love are the orders of the day.  That’s my plan and I’m sticking with it.

A momentous day …

Today marks a significant anniversary of a major milestone in my personal life. It was on this day, August 27th, exactly 20 years that I got into my Ford T-Bird, drugged Miss Boots to keep her somewhat calm for the long drive ahead, and left my home in Florida for the last time, headed to God-only-knows-what in the great North Star state of Minnesota. I had a lot of “You must be crazy – it doesn’t work that way, people move from Minnesota TO Florida, not the other way around” type of comments, but my heart and intuition told me there was something here for me that beckoned me to follow and I was compelled to listen to that prompting. I think you could say I found my destiny when I moved to Minnesota, considering all of the phenomenal and quotidian things that are now part of my everyday life, chief among which are my husband and my daughter, my fantastic MIL, FIL and SIL that I love more than I can put into words, and the whole Hall/Faber clan. But so much more was waiting for me too – the restoration of my soul and healing of an existential pain I could not name or voice, a fulfilling career at a wonderful company where I still work, new friends who have been tried and remain true, a society with a live-and-let-live attitude that is still refreshing to me 20 years later, my great passion for quilting that channeled creative energy in a much needed and useful way, finding my birth mother Barbara, discovering the brother and sister I always wished for as a child – the list just goes on and on. And I have come to feel, for many years now, that Minnesota is my true home. This state still inspires me on a daily basis with its natural beauty and majestic scenery. I feel so fortunate to live here. My heart felt like it was breaking when I drove away 20 years ago, because I was leaving my very best friend in the entire world, Nancy, behind in West Palm Beach and I cried for many months with an aching longing to be with her, but she is even more dear to me now than she was then. And especially Neil, who hopped in the U-Haul and drove with me for four days until we crossed the border into Minnesota, a generosity and kindness that earned my everlasting gratitude. I couldn’t have made it here, I don’t think, without the extreme kindness and love that the Christenson family poured out to me when I arrived. They took me in and helped me learn my way around and discover the best of what Minnesota had to offer and for all of them they will never know how much gratitude my heart holds for their presence and their warmth. To quote a favorite scripture “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”.
Now, if only I could figure out how to convince everyone I love to move here too.

Sometimes the old technology was better …


Oh, Mr. Greist, where have you been my entire sewing life? Though branded to go with my vintage Viking 6020 machine, this is really just a Greist buttonhole attachment I found on e-Bay for $15 – best sewing money I have ever spent! It makes absolutely and perfectly consistent buttonholes with one of 13 cams. And you can adjust bead size and gap spread to your heart’s content – an amazing piece of antique sewing technology!!!

Time for a change

Well, I certainly seem to have been neglecting my blog recently, haven’t I? I guess I’ve gotten so used to Facebook, that’s pretty much the only place I visit regularly. But Google sent me a nasty-gram last night, telling me that my web site was not friendly to mobile devices and if I didn’t do something to change that, my site results would start moving lower and lower in their results and …. EGADS! … we can’t have that now, can we? So here is a new “responsive design” theme that works in browsers and on mobile devices too. So maybe I’ll kick myself in the rear and get to adding some blog posts soon. They take more effort than the quick posts on FB, but you can say and show a lot more too. I think I’ve also fixed the photo gallery which wasn’t working for some people at all, unless they used Chrome as their browser. It’s working for me now in all browsers, so hopefully it will work for you too!