Block giveaway and Virtual Cookie Exchange

virtual cookie exchange 2017

The countdown is on, only 17 shopping and/or sewing days left.
Christmas time for me is “CANDY time”, I say this with some melody in my voice. Home made peanut brittle (oh so good) and home made caramel, both will create a party in your mouth. Once you have had fresh home made of these popular candies the mass production versions just will not satisfy.  In fact after you’ve had home made when you see them in the stores for sale you will turn up your nose. Most people have fond memories of Christmas morning opening presents or Christmas’s spent with loved ones no longer with us, but my fondest childhood Christmas memory is making candy with my step mother. Who knew you could make peanut brittle, caramel and taffy? You know, all the good stuff. I still love making candy and enjoy her cookbooks today. For many years I have made several batches of peanut brittle at Christmas, placed it in pretty tins and gave as gifts to a boss, family and friends.  My son always picks around the peanuts in the brittle, my husband picks the heavy peanut pieces leaving me a pretty balanced selection. The caramel, well its a very versatile candy. You can chunk it up and eat it as is but you can’t eat just 1 piece. You can make turtles or dip it in chocolate. Paint a candy tray with chocolate, add an almond and caramel and finish filling with chocolate (my favorite). If it’s chocolate, caramel and almonds…well it just doesn’t get better than that in my opinion. I think this is my favorite candy but rarely make it because I am the only one who eats it at home. It doesn’t keep as long either. If you can’t consume it in  a week or 2 you may want to share it while its at its best. Unfortunately I wont be making either this year, I’ve irritated my sciatica while loading backing on my frame and cant stand the length of time required for making candy. So, I hope you all download and make this and think of me while you enjoy it. The caramel recipe is below, click on the recipe card to download.

Blogging is new to me, so this is the first year I have participated in the Virtual Cookie Exchange hosted by Just let me quilt. Thank you Carol for all your help and for hosting this. You will find links at the bottom of this post to all the bloggers sharing in the cookie exchange.

The photo below is only one pattern option. Read on for variation and pdf download., #paperpiecing, #flyinggeese
18″ North Star quilt block with flying geese and chain

For a couple of weeks I have been working on this star block to add to For The Love of Geese  and decided I would share it with you all today. I had hoped I would have the block completed before today and normally I would have. Sitting for any length of time is very painful and after sitting at my desk for 9 hours daily I cant do so in the evenings, so there are no photos of my completed block. My test block only consisted of half of the 18″ block and was made with mismatched scraps. There are samples below of my block, I have everything pieced but have not completed joining of the templates. For this I am sorry.

Like the ol’ versatile caramel the 18″ star block offers a few choices. Flying geese or no, 4 patch blocks to create an Irish chain or no. You will need paper piecing knowledge since I have not included instructions for paper piecing and you should have experience with Y seams. Not to say a beginner could not finish this block. With a border this would make a really cool wall hanging, a pillow sham, or create an entire quilt  with the Irish chain linking multiple blocks. With  proper color placement and values you could easily create a 3d block as well. Struggle with colors?  Clever Chameleon has a great write up on color values and  on Tuesday’s adds a new Colour Inspiration pallet, I love these by the way.

This is a great block for scraps or fat quarters. Yardage estimates are not given. For my block I used left over  2- 1/2″ strips and scraps of muslin.

For adding the chain blocks you will need to piece them separately and do the math using your preferred seam allowance. If you are using 1/4″ seam allowance you will need to cut 24pcs  1- 1/4″ squares from your background fabric and 24pcs  1- 1/4″ squares from  your colored fabric to make twelve  4 patch blocks. I have marked the templates for chain placement, you can paper piece the completed 4 patch blocks to the templates  which is what I did.
Now for your options. Below the block on the left is with flying geese (lt blue), the block on the right is with the Irish chain (lt blue). You can choose the download to suite your needs. If you do not want the examples shown below you will want to download the file “North Star without flying geese”.


If you would like a block without flying geese or 4 patch blocks you will want to download  North_Star_without_flying_geese
If you would like a block with flying geese and/or chain you will want to download North_Star_with_flying_geese
Perhaps you want flying geese with no chain blocks, download the North Star with flying geese. In place of the chain patches just add a single patch of fabric.
If you want to add chain blocks but no flying geese you can download either file and refer to the color layout for placement. I’ll stop here before I make you more dizzy.
If you create something with the pattern and would like me to share it here please email a photo, include if you want your first/last name or web address shown. A link to my site is always appreciated as well.

A list of others participating:


December 5 


Virtual Cookie Exchange 12-5 / 12-7

Below is a list of bloggers who will  be participating in this years Virtual Cookie Exchange. I’m anxious to see how others prepare for this event and what surprises are in store for the 3 days. This being my first time, I hope I can measure up but if not, I’ll know what is expected of me next year.

The paper pieced block that I will be sharing with you all is nearing completion, I should have it done by tomorrow. If you have been contemplating the pattern For the love of geese but it just isn’t large enough for you, come back on Dec 7th and have a look at the block I am adding to the pattern. Then stay tuned for the updated quilt.

Upcoming Virtual Cookie Exchange

While nursing myself for relief of sciatica pain I’ve kept busy working on a new quilt idea and blocks to add to For The Love of Geese quilt.  Not every block looks balanced with this quilt full of flying geese but I think I have finally managed to come up with one, a paper pieced star block.  On Dec 7th I will share the pattern as a free download during a Virtual Cookie Exchange. The Virtual Cookie Exchange  will take place from Dec. 5th thru Dec. 7th. It’s being hosted by Just Let Me Quilt, head over and check out the other bloggers who are participating. Recipes for yummy stuff,  holiday traditions, patterns, who knows what you will benefit from or learn by visiting the blogs on these days.

No sneak peeks at the star block that I will be sharing. Though I will tell you this: it will be a paper pieced pattern so brush up on you pp skills, there will be multiple layout options for the block. If you like flying geese there will be an option to add them to the block or not. If you like blocks with Irish Chains, there is an option for that or not.  Instructions for piecing the Irish chain will not be included, you will need to do the math for the 4 patch blocks yourself. I’ve considered making this block larger for a medallion in a quilt but that really doesn’t serve my purpose right now so it will be an 18″ block. The block would make a great pillow sham, you could add a border and create a wall hanging, or if you like quilts with Irish Chains you could turn this block into an entire quilt with Irish Chains connecting all the blocks.  If you are good with colors and values it would make a wonderful 3d quilt. That’s all for now, hope this leaves you pondering and you come back on Dec 7th for 2 recipes.  A recipe for a star block and a recipe for one of my favorite Christmas candies.

Toying with ideas

Saturday while loading my backing onto the frame for the Wind Rose quilt I somehow irritated my sciatica nerve. Ironically 22 years ago Saturday I was in an automobile accident. The impact pushed my hip out of rotation and played havoc on the sciatica nerve. Fortunately since then I have only irritated it twice. Needless to say, I wont be quilting until the pain subsides. Thank you TP Rose, yes his name is etched in my memory and he is responsible for many of the aches I suffer today. If he has an ear drum left I’d be surprised,  I cuss  him frequently.

Saturday and Sunday both I played around with some ideas for my next quilt, what better way to spend the day? Because stars and geese go well together I sketched a few ideas.  I also visited The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library looking for inspiration. This is where I found the map that contained the wind rose from my last quilt. That search took me to Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass windows. Not that I want to make a stained glass quilt, although many would make gorgeous quilts, I was mainly looking for layout ideas. Note to me: revisit that idea at a later time.  His Saguaro window caught my eye not because of the layout, but because it could easily be made into  a quilt with little changes.

I wish I had more to share with you today , just know I have plenty of time to work on my next project and I will be sharing that soon enough.

In between projects

Piasa Bird quilt, paperpiecing
Piasa Bird quilt by Melissa S.

Today I thought I would do something a little different since I have yet to finish my quilting on the Wind Rose quilt and have not started a new project. A couple of my sisters also quilt and I thought I’d share a quilt by one of them.

The Piasa Bird in history and our local folklore. As a child in Alton I remember wanting to take a ride up the Great River Road to see the Piasa Bird, that was our thing back then when life was much simpler. For years there was a beautiful painting of the Piasa on the limestone bluffs and I think it was an honor if you were an artist who was chosen to freshen the image. Today the image sits above a small rest stop in Alton, the image isn’t the same quality but still demands the attention of those who pass by. Its current location is the 3rd that I personally remember.

There are different accounts and legends surrounding the Piasa Bird. It is said to have had sharp talons and teeth,  antlers like a deer, a long tail and a beard. Some in history do not note wings, others do. It was a man eater that terrorized local tribes. Chief Ouatoga of the Illini Indians was said to have gathered his warriors outside the cave of the Piasa Bird armed with poisoned arrows. When the Piasa flew out of the cave they showered it with their arrows and the Piasa’s remains lie in the depths of the Mississippi River.

Its story and  image have been depicted in the book titled “Records of ancient races in the Mississippi Valley” by William McAdams. Explorers Lewis and Clark made note of the image painted on the limestone bluffs near Alton,Il when they explored the region between 1804-1806. Earlier, in 1673 Father Jacques Marquette noted the image during the Joliet expedition. Now the quilt.

Piasa bird quilt, paperpiecing
Quilt by Melissa S.

She used applique and a technique called snippets to complete the top. I’ve not personally used snippets in quilting so I cannot give instructions or rate the technique. She’ll kill me for saying this, I invited her to write a post on the quilt and she said, “No, its too much like work”. LOL. This makes her sound lazy but truly she isn’t. She has been raising children since she was 4 years old and my mother brought me home from the hospital.  She does have a full time job and cares for her grand children as well.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do. Thanks Melissa.Wikipedia on Piasa Bird

piasa bird, applique, paper piecing
Piasa Brid quilt by Melissa S.

piasa bird quilt, paper piecing

Piasa bird quilt, paperpiecing
Quilt by Melissa S.

The Wind Rose quilt


Now the top is finished it’s time to decide how to quilt it. It has been suggested that I send it away to a more  experienced quilter for custom quilting. Of course that is an option however I think this will stay in house. If I pay for custom quilting I wont want to give it away and I could never recover my time and expense selling it. Neither have been considered at this point.

The background fabric is Quilters Choice muslin, the blue, red and green are Moda solids. The entire quilt was paper pieced and the best part,  NO CURVED PIECING. The medallion, all geese and the maltese crosses were drawn on paper, graph paper. I love the way the first geese border surrounds the medallion.

Ignore the wrinkles. It was warm and humid yesterday morning when I carried it to the shed to take a photo. I had to hang it around my neck and the humidity took quick action on the cotton. Quilting suggestions welcome if you have any.

compass quilt, wind rose quilt, paperpiecing, paper piecing, medallion quilt, for the love of geese
Un-quilted Wind Rose Quilt


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Is it spring or fall

Its finally November and normally this time of year I would have a fire roaring in the wood stove. The inside temp would be a cozy 75-78 degrees and I would be struggling to find new ways to add humidity to the air.  Last week we had days that were below 30 in the early morning hours that struggled to reach 50 degrees before sunset. Yesterday my thermometer outside read 79 at 2pm. The next couple of days, Saturday 65 & 77 on Sunday. The warm weather can fool you but the fall colors remind me that its no longer summer when I look out the window. My home is surrounded by trees and would be a perfect landscape for an artist.  It wont be long this colorful display will be replaced by unsightly trees with barren limbs which is a reminder that snow will soon follow.

Its all worth it come spring when the showers will wash away all the grunge from a long winter. The trees will once again be full of varying shades of green and the air sweetened by honeysuckle. Until then I will continue to do what I do best.

My compass / wind rose quilt is coming along. My final set of blocks should be sewn onto the top before the weekend is over.

Updated wind rose quilt

#paperpiecedquilts: #paper pieced quilt, #medallionquiltOk I admit that I don’t have a design wall, I’m a pretty simple person.   Cloths pins work pretty well until my tops are quilted and too heavy to hang that way. This summer I discovered a new way to hang them after they have been quilted, actually 2 ways. We have a 1950 Chevy truck. The only downside to this method is when the quilt is large you cant see the entire quilt.  The 2nd way is to hang them on the gutter of our house, with cloths pins of course. The lip of the gutter that turns in locks the cloths pins and quilt in place and they hang really nice, you also have natural light to photograph them.  I’m afraid of heights and the gutter method only requires a 1′ step stool so this is ideal for me. Oh yea, we live in an earth home so the gutter is only about 6′ off the ground. Previously I would lay them out on the floor inside or the back side of the roof which provided enough of an angle that it didn’t require me to stand on furniture or a ladder to take a photo from above.

Now for the quilt, it’s coming along. There will also be a flying geese border on the sides to match the top and bottom border with 8 point stars in the corners. It is coming together better then expected. Previous quilt patterns I created there was a section or two that I had to remake for one reason or another. This has not been the case while piecing this top.

I’m making it my monthly goal to get this quilt finished, including quilting and binding. This is a challenge even though the top is  almost completed.  Most times I have another quilt in mind that I am anxious to start on, which is the case this time.

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Elm Street Quilts


Half Way

#paper pieced quilt #flying geese quilt #compass quilt #wind rose quiltMy wind rose is almost complete, 2 borders and a sashing is all that remains. I’m really glad I stayed true to the original and added a white border to the points. The rest of the blocks for the quilt are done I just have to sew them all together and add them to the quilt. The outside border blocks, well I am up in the air about them.  They are pieced and sewn in halves, I just cant decide if I want full blocks or half blocks.   I’m really glad I decided to trim the compass with the curved flying geese, I love the way it frames the compass.

When I began drawing this I started thinking about different ways to quilt it. In the beginning I thought I would quilt straight lines to resemble a Portolan Chart. Now I am not so sure.

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Main Crush Mondays

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