Little by Little

Here’s what it looks like at the farm on this blustery, gray, cold morning. The bit of blue makes it beautiful.

Farmhouse from afar

So…with a month and two days of time between now and Christmas Day, it seems that every little moment counts if I’m going to reach my quilt project goals.

Cindy helped me finish my string quilt top, while Ms. G. quilted it. The binding has been attached, the giant gift bag has been purchased and now only two tasks remain: afix the label (created by Cindy) and wait for the giftee to be sprung from her kindly by none-the-less prison-like nursing home. We’re relieved to know that a suitable apartment has been found for my mothers’ friend and she will be moving in to the new place on or about December 1. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of her new bed quilt.

I’ve attached almost all of the borders for 1 of 2 Canada quilts. I have two more wide borders to complete and it will be ready for Ms. G. and her magic long-arm. This is the teal/navy version for the older of the two girls.

Queen-sized version of Cindy’s Garden Gate Pattern

I am super happy about how it is coming together! My only concern: I’m about to run out of thread! Seriously, I’m going to buy a truckload of this stuff, because I can’t make it through the last months of quarantine without it! It has been a lifeline.

Love this thread!

I’m hanging out at the farm for a few days so I can help mom isolate before we get our small family together for Thanksgiving dinner. It is certainly not the holiday we hoped for, but everyone is safe for now and that is all we can wish for during this trying episode.

I am offering thanks for all the scientists and health care workers who are giving their lives to save ours. Let’s all stay inside and sew so we can help save the world! Happy Thanksgiving week!

Summer Days Go By

Cindy and I are reveling in lots of excellent quilting news — the most exciting of which is that Cindy’s Girls’ Best Friend quilt will be featured in the next issue of Make Modern magazine, which will be published tomorrow! Issue 29 is stuffed with wonderful quilting ideas and we are hopping up and down in anticipation of this milestone for Gray Barn Designs! Yippee!

Last week we ran a contest to give away a 6-month subscription to Make Modern for someone who commented on our blog. Elaine was the winner and her name has been submitted to the publishers of Make Modern who generously donated the gift. Thank you Make Modern!

I spent some time on the farm last night walking with our older sister and enjoying the peace and quiet of the hill. The sun was offering a soft golden light. It was just what I needed.

Older sister is a lover of all things birch trees. We caught this reflection in the pond.
LOL — Mom had some cement work done around the house and one of the cats left their mark forever.

The improve graduation quilt is completed and gifted. It’s headed off to college in about 6 weeks.

Neutral tones and strong purples with a scrappy binding (thanks to Cindy)!

Other exciting quilting news is on the horizon soon, so be sure to stay tuned.

Introducing Garret X. Gobble jr.

Although I’ve lived in my current home for about 5 years, there is still a lot of decorating to do in it. For some reason, the idea of ‘all at once’ decorating has never appealed to me. I’d rather live with bare walls and spaces while I look for just the right piece of art or furniture that speaks to me. I know I need to work on this more diligently, because my son often reports back about “cozy homes” when he visits his friends — gulp.

My formal living room has been the most barren room since we moved in, but recently I’ve created a cozy reading nook in a corner of it by pulling together a soft stuffed rocker, an antique chestnut game table that was stashed in my basement and a wool accent rug that I found at an estate sale. The chestnut table seriously needs refinishing but the wood still requires protection from damp liquids <wine? milk? cider? water–water –ha– who am I kidding!?!>.

Clearly this cozy corner requires a table topper. So I pulled together scraps of fall-inspired fabrics and cut out (36) 5.5″ squares. I focused on browns, purples, golds, greens and dusky reds. When I was visiting Cindy this summer she gifted me with a bag of scraps that included some wonderful shirting fabrics that helped me stay with the theme while providing a bit of brightness to the proceedings.

While I was cutting the squares, I spied my Creative Grids Dresden ruler and started thinking — how could I use that ruler in a different way?   Behold, Garret X. Gobble Jr.:



To create Garret, I used the ruler to I cut out six (6) 3″ half blades in bright colors. I sewed them together to make the tail feathers and rounded the unit out a bit. Next, I found a hexagon template by Darlene Zimmerman and cut out Garret’s fat body and then quickly cut one more brown blade for his head. I used my scissors to shape his head a bit.  I found a scrap of red for his wattle and cut it free-hand style.

When I assembled Garret, I realized that bottom of the feathers created too much bulk under the body, so I traced a chalk line from where the body and the feathers met and trimmed them off and attached them with a pin until I was ready to begin the applique. I placed Garret on-point so that he would be the centerpiece of the topper as it drapes over the table. The shirting scrap was a bit too flimsy for applique, so I layered it with a 5.5″ square of muslin to give it a little more body while I hand-stitched Junior in place.

Using my applique needle and pearl cotton thread (size 8) I created a beak, legs and an eye. Shout out to my quilting mentor and her mother and the Girl Scouts –which is where I learned to embroider many, many years ago! My skills are very rusty, but somehow, amazingly, the process is still stored in the back of my brain.

After Garret was complete, it was simple to assemble the rest of the squares. For quilting, I decided on a simple grid in chocolate brown using Gutermann thread and my Bernina walking foot.



The last piece of the cozy corner was a lamp I found at an estate sale at this adorable doll house where, it turns out, a quilter once lived.


Besides the lamp, I also found some quilting supplies and rulers at the sale that I am going to gift to a friend who wants to learn to quilt. I hope the previous owner would be pleased that her tools will help inspire a new enthusiast.


Let’s all ignore the boring paint color behind my cozy corner and the grievous lack of any wall art, but I am very excited about my cozy corner just in time for the fall holidays.

You can download the pattern for Garret X. Gobble Jr. table topper by clicking on the link below:

Garret X. Gobble Jr. Table Topper 10 09 18

We’ll also be posting this pattern to FaveQuilts website.  Be sure to stop by this site for lots of fall and Thanksgiving inspiration.  There are literally hundreds of FREE patterns posted as well as videos, tutorials, helpful tips…everything you need for quilting inspiration!

In a Pickle

It’s Sandy here, with a late summer farm <and quilting> report.

I’ve spent the last eight days babying along a batch of icicle pickles. These sweet pickles were a staple of our childhood, and I hate to say it, but I have traditionally been more of a dill/sour pickle lover myself. Mom makes icicles nearly every year and this year after being gifted with a box of cucumbers from a friend’s garden, she had to go out of town. That meant that the daily pickling chores were left to me.


Day 1 of my week in pickles.

The recipe is very simple, if a little lengthy. It takes 8 days (albeit only 15 minutes on each of the days) to accomplish the task. I forgot to take a picture of mom’s recipe, but here is a ‘modern’ version — one that contains exact measures. Mom’s recipe calls for a “walnut-sized” scoop of alum and a “handful” of pickling spices.  What??? Apparently there were no OCD people in olden times.

I love canning time of year! It makes the house smell amazing and it makes me feel like I’m creating a gift for my family. Jams, jellies, tomatoes, corn, peaches, apple pie filling — they are all part of the late summer canning ritual on the farm. I remember a time in Texas when a dear friend of mine passed away suddenly — I spent that afternoon making jam while trying to ground myself and contemplate the loss.

Putting away food helps to connect me to my place and it fills the house with the most delicious smells.

Now as I said, I was never a fan of icicle pickles. However, I have to let you know that I grabbed a few this week before they were in the jar and I am now obsessed with these pickles. Time’s change, you know?

More evidence of times changing: it’s been many years since Cindy and I were captives on the farm and required to make hay all summer. That meant hauling around hundreds of bales of hay and unloading them from a wagon into the hay mow in the barn. Oh how we hated that work and those summer days, but miraculously, we both look back on them fondly.

Dad doesn’t have animals anymore, so he sells his hay to a local mega-dairy farmer. Here’s hay-making on the farm nowadays.


It’s still not officially fall, but I have been working on Christmas gifts. Cindy helped me finish up my long-delayed log cabin tree skirt and I’ve attached the binding, so depending on how you look at it, I’m way ahead of schedule or only two years behind in my Christmas sewing/gifting!


Preparing to bond with my tree skirt!


Looking back. It’s so easy to remember walking these fields looking for cows. I miss cows. 

Today is primary day in New York. The polls are open until 9 pm. If you are from the Empire State, don’t forget to vote! Free pattern.