Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Happy & Peaceful New Year

Much THANKS to everyone who has been sending in blocks!! Look at the piles I have to pin together for the upcoming exhibit at White Bear Unitarian Universalist next weekend. I am continuously humbled by your help with my idea. I don't update as often as I should because I find myself without words about the state of the war and the world and how i and my project fit into it all. I'm overwhelmed. Thank you for your continued help and encouragement.

May we all find a little bit of peace and comfort in the new year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Exhibit A

My friends at Minnesota Contemporary Quilters have been hugely supportive of this project. Every January we display the works of some of our members at the White Bear Lake Unitarian Universalist Church. This year the piece I will be displaying will be the project so far. There's still time to send any blocks you have completed. I just received some from Nellie! Thanks!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Well, I have officially used up 3 minutes of my 15 minute allotment of fame.

Last week Bob Collins from Minnesota Public Radio came to my home. He took some photos, and we spoke about the project. Here is a link to the resulting slide show with audio. MPR

MPR has been an integral part of my life ever since I can remember, so, it was a great honor to welcome Bob into my home. Thanks Bob!

Monday, November 26, 2007

So Far

It was a brisk, but sunny ( finally sunny when I'm free for a moment,) afternoon. I went to a nearby park late this afternoon and took a few shots of what is put together so far. There are 8 sections of 30 blocks shown. My mom keeps another section with her, and there is another section without hanging sleeves yet. That makes 300 blocks in all, right now. 300 American and 63,600 Iraqi deaths.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Got Mail!

Big Thanks to Georgia from Texas, who returned 4 blocks to me yesterday!! Yeah! If there is any sunshine tomorrow morning I will post pictures.

I'll take pictures of blocks too, so hurry and send them in!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day

I work on blocks in some form another everyday. It's become routine. Maybe it has for you as well. As Veteran's Day arrives, take a moment as you make those knots, or apply those beads, to honor and remember the men and women they represent.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


My dad had a big stack of completed blocks for me when I stopped by last night. Thanks Dad!!
And, I recently got a couple of beautiful blocks from Judy, Thanks!

Here's a little corner of my home where I have organized some parts of the big project. Various stages of completion are shown. The plastic tote on the left is full fabric that is ready to be sewn into squares. There's cut batting in the chair. Below the chair is a box of blocks ready to have knots or beads applied. There are a couple piles of completed blocks on the shelf, and, on the floor is a pile of sections pinned together and ready to hang. I forgot the piles at the sewing machine. There's a couple more stages there.

I have been approached with potential space to display the project. It won't happen until after the first of the new year, so, you have plenty of time to complete and send me blocks!

I love adding blocks from different makers. We each add our own bit of personality to them. Seeing that variety makes one conscious of the fact that each block, and each knot represent an individual who had their own distinct personality.

Thanks so much to everyone who is helping with this project.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Seperation Anxiety

In addition to making lots and lots of french knots, I've been working on clearing out and finishing up old projects that have accumulated in my studio. I have been grooving on a coffee buzz, and have sewn miles and miles worth of seams this last week.

Things were flying along until about 4:30 this afternoon. It's amazing how a great coffee buzz can so quickly become an anxiety attack. As I was sewing some velcro onto a baby bib, my thread suddenly broke and snapped back into the take up tension. No amount of cajoling would let me free it.
Oh, No. Oh, Nooooo!
I won't be able to sew this evening. I might not be able to sew tomorrow.
Wait, it's only 4:43! I can still get it to the sewing machine emergency room by 5!

Apparently, my emergency isn't necessarily the repair technician's emergency. I explained what happened, and he told me that it shouldn't be a problem to repair, and would be done on Monday. As my face paled, and I stammered, and tried to form a complete sentence, another technician who'd been listening said, " I bet you'd rather have it by Friday wouldn't you?" "Yes, yes, oh, yes! Thank You!" I replied. At least someone understood that a sewing machine is actually a vital organ.

There is a chance that I might clean while my machine is getting fixed. Maybe. Wait, I don't need my machine to make french knots. I'm saved.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Friends In Fargo

Lysa and Tammi counting french knots. This was Tammi's first time making french knots and she completed an entire block!!
This is the big pot of chili I made to keep my Fargo friends sated as we worked on blocks for the project. It was such a fun evening! Friends coming and going, catching up with one another, meeting new people, and enjoying each other's company. Thanks to Tammi for cleaning her house ( it was immaculate!) and being such a flexible hostess!

It was terrific seeing everyone back in Fargo - I miss you all! Who knows? I might just move back.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

All In The Family

I've been fortunate to get lots of help with this project from my family. My mom is busy making blocks, and my dad does a terrific french knot! For the last few months, every time I have sat down to draw with my nieces, the 4 year old has drawn some version or another of the block the rest of us have been working on. This is a picture she drew not long ago.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cool Beans

I spent most of the morning in the studio cutting out fabric for the upcoming playshop/party in Fargo next week. I have enough cut right now to make another 250 blocks! Will cut some batting next. (Thanks Lucille!)

Then the phone rang.

It was a really nice woman from American Public Media. That's public radio man! We talked for 10 or 15 minutes. She will be passing her notes on to the producers of a program called, "The Story". I'll let you know if anything comes of it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Exciting News

Have you checked out the Sept./Oct. edition of Fiber Arts magazine? There is a photo and a small article about the project there. Welcome to anyone who has found the project through the magazine! I have been getting responses from folks all over and welcome everyone's shared commitment and help. It was kind of surreal to see something that is usually sitting in a place of honor on my living room floor on the pages of a magazine.

More news:
I will be hosting a chili supper/and still counting workshop at my friend Tammi's house in Fargo at the end of the month. I will be back in Fargo for the Indian Summer Quilt Show and Conference, where I will be teaching a couple of classes, and hanging out with all of my Fargo friends. If you find yourself in the area, or have been looking for the perfect excuse to visit Fargo (it really is a great little city, and no, I don't work for the chamber of commerce) drop me a note and I'll send you the details.

Thanks for all your help!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Long Time No Write

Here's what's been going on.
I've been making and passing out lots of blocks for folks to knot or bead. (If anyone wants to help in making the blocks, I would love it!!) I sent out an e-mail to folks I knew were working on knots and/or beads asking to send in anything you had completed so I could get some photos. A magazine had expressed interest in a possible story. Well, there was some confusion at the P.O. office about the name on my box, so if you sent anything and it got returned, I'm sorry. It has been corrected, and I should be getting things in the box now.

So, about the magazine. I sent in a photo of what I had available, and hoped for the best. I got an e-mail late this week from an editor at fiberarts magazine that the photos were fine and she would send me a copy of the article when it was published!! Not sure when it comes out, but will let you know to keep an eye open for it.

I am going to start working on a little press kit, and would love to include everyone's blocks in the next photos. Please send in anything you have done. The variety and personality of different makers really brings charcter to the overall piece.

Thanks for all you do! C

look for new photos below the comment break

Thursday, June 14, 2007


You haven't heard much from me in a while. I had every intention of being of being a teriific cheerleader for this project when I started. I thought I'd be able to fake my way through those times when I have to stop listening to the news because it's just too much. I get overwhelmed and have to step back for a while. So, I stepped back until I had more positive words to send you.

The project continues to grow, and folks are helping out on it all over the place! It might be getting some local publicity. I was at an arts festival this last weekend working on a block, and one of the other participants asked me about what I was working on. I explained the project and she jumped up and got pen and paper and started taking notes, and asked, "Would it be alright if I shared this with my editor?" Well of course! So we'll see what happens there.

On another note, someone had asked earlier about when to send the completed blocks to the p.o. box. I had said save them up and send them in groups to save on postage. That's still fine with me if it's fine with you, but, I have had to rent a storage place for the project, because as it grew to about 50 pieces, I realized it was the symbolic representation of10,000 deaths. That was too much death to have at my house all the time. And possibly too much for your house too, so feel free to send them in whenever - I would love to see more of them coming in! My plan is to take them from the p.o. to the storage unit and finish putting things together there. I have a few more to pin on and will remember to take a picture for you.

Thankks again for all your help!


Friday, May 18, 2007


Lucy, my friend from Avon, donated some wonderful yellow fabric! I have cut squares and binding pieces for 50, count 'em, 50 blocks from the yellow! So springy like buttercups, or dandelions.

I will get those sewn up over the weekend to bring to my Minnesota Contemporary Quilter's meeting in Minneapolis Monday evening. This is such a wonderful group of artists! They always inspire me, and are always eager to help make knots. There is always great show and tell and lots of laughter at these meetings, you can't help but leave anxious to get home and try out the technique someone talked about, or the brianstorm of an idea that came up. You can check us out at .

Enjoy your weekend and thanks for helping!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lost Mo Jo Found

So sorry for the long lapse. I have been under the weather in a pretty big way. Finally have energy to do more than just survive.

Now that I' m out from under the rock, I've got some catching up to do.

Thanks to everyone who has come on board and been working on the project!

Go check out Nellie's blog, Nellie's Needles . She displays her beatiful art quilts and, has been such a support in getting the word out, and getting folks to help. Thanks Nellie! Nellie is a big fan of the grommets, so it looks like at least portions of this project will be going metal!

Here is how I think we can make this work on a bunch of levels all at once. The troops are divided into sqauds, divisions, platoons, battalions, brigades, etc... this project can be divided into similar sections.

Bead chain and grommets are going to be spendy, so, maybe we can work in smaller squads and platoons as money is raised for this particular type of armor. When there isn't yet funding for the grommets, we can hang them from the safety pins.

Timeline - I would love to see this hang somewhere publicly for the anniversary of 9/11. That seems a little ambitious right now, but we could definitely have some sort of platoon, brigade, division amount done. We could even hang the smaller numbers in more than one location at the same time.

As soon as I get 100 or so blocks, and can get some good photographs taken, I can put some more concerted effort into finding venues. If any one has ideas, for places to display this, let me

I've had a couple questons about variations. Along with french knots, black seed beads are a fine alternative, and couching bead chain would be fine too. Someone has made made square spirals, someone else, stars and snowflakes. If we all stick with mostly black or metallic for the color I think some variety here and there is ok.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Tutorial at Last!

Look! Pictures! This first one shows a 6" square each of backing, batting (any kind will do, I am even piecing my scraps together - butt 2 pieces of batting together and zig zag!), and a solid. Stack these into a sandwich with the solid fabric on top.
The second photo shows that sandwich, and the pieces of binding needed. From the same solid fabric as the 6" square, cut 2 each - 3 1/2 " x 6", and 3 1/2" x 7 1/2". (The samples on the left and bottom.) Fold each piece in half lengthwise, and press. (The samples on the top and right)

Place the raw edges of the 6" pieces on the edge of two sides of the 6" sandwich. Stitch 1/2" from the edge. I press binding away from the top of the sandwich, then I fold the binding onto the back of the sandwich and pin. Turn the sandwich over, and stitch 1/4" from the edge. (I have been using black thread for this. It saves from having to match thread to the solid color fabric and is consistent with the knots.)

It will look like this from the back,

and, like this from the front! If needed, trim the edges.

Center the 7 1/2" binding strips across the 2 remaining sides, and stitch 1/2" from the edge.
If you look closely you can see how the binding is turned in the next picture. So, just like with the other sides, you press the binding so it is away from the top of the square. This time, you will first turn the excess binding in towards the back of the quilt, over the edge of the first binding. This is kinda visible on the left side of the following picture.
Once the excess is folded in, you can fold the rest of it over like the other 2 sides. It takes a little practice, but you can do it! Now, stitch 1/4" from the edge with the black thread on top. Leave extra long tails at both ends of this top stitching. It's too bulky to back- stitch, so I pull the black thread to the back and tie each end off to secure it. I tried to show you that in the 2nd photo.

See the long tails for securing the threads?
I know this seems like a couple of extra steps for the binding, but this will give a little more stability t o the edges. They will be taking on some stress.
Now you are ready to make french knots! Or, some folks have elected to put seed beads on as a variation on the theme. It also occurred to me that if one wanted to count out 212 beads worth of bead chain, that could be couched on. Couching tutorial later if there is interest.
I have been putting my 212 knots on each block in a spiral starting at the center. After every 10 knots, I make a small stitch. This saves on alot of counting. Once I get closer to the outside and feel like I'm getting close to 212 knots, I can count the stitches by 10's. To start the spiral, I make a knot just a little off center, and make the next knot about 1/4" to the left, and again, and again, it's kind of a square at this point, so I make a concerted effort to make the fifth knot abit above and a bit out, and that is where the spiral begins. (I will try to remember a photo of the beginning knots). The spiral pattern is optional, I do it because it's easy for me to keep track of how many knots I've made and I like how it looks. If you figure out something else go for it, and share it withthe rest of us! **

Here are the first 12 blocks pinned together! I think that's enough for one post. Let me know what critical information I've forgotten!

**UPDATE!!! I have received a couple of blocks that have the knots in a peace symbol pattern. While I am ever so thankful for help, but, I do have a caveat. I want this piece to be more abstract, and allow each person viewing it to be free to feel and think whatever they need to feel and think without ideas being put in their heads. Any abstract design is fine for the knots or beads. Just nothing dogmatic. It's the dogma that I believe gets us into these nasty situations to begin with. I live in a big "red" bubble in a "blue" state. I have learned that whispering is sometimes louder than shouting.

I am going to keep the peace symbol blocks on my design board as my inspiration, because that is what this project means for me.

Not A Number One Draft Pick

It was as it should have been that I was always the last chosen for team sports. I am kind of clumsy, and don't like things thrown at my head. In my own defense, I did always try.

Now as an adult, I would be the last one you choose for your IT team. I have, finally, on the fourth attempt, installed my thing-a-ma-bob that willl read the photos from my camera's memory stick. I will perservere and figure this out.

Ok. Maybe I did just have the right brainstorm this time. Wrong again, but Imust be getting closer. I have to go to work. Will wrestle more with my PC tonight.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Baby steps

Progress for a techno-phobe! I have finally managed to access my own blog from my own computer. Things are looking bright even on this dreary day. (I even added photos, ok so they showed up below the first post, they're still there, go look!)

So the update on things - I am still finding lots of people who want to help! I figured out how to make things a little simpler and a lot less expensive. I put together four blocks with grommets and bead chain as a sample/ proto-type. The silver stuff was quite distracting from the blocks themselves. So, we're going punk. As a quilter, I have at my beck and call, a basket full of brass safety pins. (I have quite a few, but you know we'll be needing more, so scrounge through your sewing studios for 1 1/8" size pins) It's working wonderfully to pin the blocks together from the back. I've been inserting a bead in between to give just a little space. (These beads could be purple, as in purple heart, and represent the injured.)

Tomorrow we'll see if I can make my new photo port function and have the tutorial photos in odd places!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Holy Cow!

I'm home from vacation now, and I am overwhelmed by the support from all over the world! Thanks!

I'm going to spend the next couple of days creating the samples for the tutorials . My goal is to get that all posted by Sunday. I am still mastering my blogging skills, so we'll see how it goes.

More to come.....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Ideas. I have lots of ideas. Some ideas are just a function of brainstorming. Some ideas had their beginnings in some other thing that inspired me to think and ponder. It may sound a little silly, but, I can tell when I've hit upon a good idea in a couple of ways. Some ideas just won't leave me alone. They haunt me until I succumb to doing something. My favorite ideas also make me jump up and down and do a little dance. I don't realize I even do it.

This blog is going to be about is going to be about one of those jump up and down ideas that haunts me.

Not long ago, I was perusing the internet, when I came across some photos of a display at Reed College out in Portland Oregon. Flags had been placed in the lawn. A red flag for every American who has died in the war, and a white one for every six Iraqis. There were 3055 red flags, and 112,000 white flags. I was overwhelmed.

I don't live in a hole, I consider myself moderately well informed about the world, but seeing the visual representaion of the consequences of war was so much more powerful than hearing, or reading the numbers.

Thus began the haunting. That visual was thought provoking without telling one what to think. It was something to raise awareness about something that is far to easy to ignore on a daily basis. But it was also impermanent. It would most likely be picked up in a few weeks when the lawn needed to be mowed.

Haunt. Haunt. Haunt.

Wait! I'm an artist, what can I do make something as a visual reminder? My chosen medium is quilting, so it would obviously have to be a quilt of some sort. The rest of that particular brainstorming happened so fast, I can't describe it for you, except to say I was jumping up and down and dancing the dance of good ideas.

Here's the idea - A small quilt for each American who has died and on that quilt small french knots to represent each Iraqi. Using the numbers from the Reed display, that's 3055 little quilts with 212 french knots on each one. The quilts will be made and bound with solid color fabrics. Any color is fine, they represent the soldiers who repesent us and we are of every color and ethnicity. The 212 french knots will be made with black thread. I've been using 2 strands of embroidery floss, and starting in the center, make a spiral of french knots. Each little quilt will be connected to the next with small brass safety pins. I am putting a purple bead on the safety pin between the quilts to represent the wounded. It's no where near the actual number of wounded, nut, they need to be represented as well. .

I am going to need help.

I have spoken with a few folks and have had really positive feedback I am hoping to find people willing to volunteer to donate the materials and time to make the quilt blocks. I will also be needing help with funds for the fabric, batting, beads, postage for shipping, etc.

I will post photos and a tutorial soon, but this will be the basic structure - the quilts will be 6" square finished. Each square will be made from a solid fabric on the front, any scrap of batting and backing is fine. The binding details are specific, as they need to be strong enough to support the grommets. So, I will wait until I get home to do those photos, and directions. (I'm on vacation in NYC, but, you know how it is with those ideas that haunt you.)