Wednesday, August 27, 2008

National Thread the Needle Day…We Missed It!

July 25th was day! Of course, if you sew, any day is a "thread the needle day." But, do you know the second meaning? According to the phrase means to "either walk a fine or difficult line between two issues or things, or to do something difficult. M-m-m! I guess we do that every day in the search for world peace!

Sewing Tip of the Day
I've been working on my sewing book—writing about threading the needle, actually, and I just found a neat new tip in one of the sewing books that's long been on my bookshelves. When you must sew with a doubled thread in the needle, I've found that a good tug can break the thread right off the eye, or prolonged sewing causes the thread to shred and break there. When you must use doubled thread, as for attaching buttons by hand, try this neat trick to prevent the wear—cut two equal lengths of thread and thread them together as one through the eye—as if you were sewing with a single thread. Knot the ends together. Oh, and don't forget to wax those threads to help them adhere to each other. After waxing them together, place between two layers of paper towel and press with a warm iron to melt the wax into the thread.

National Sewing Month is Soon Upon Us!
September will soon arrive—a month to celebrate our love for sewing! What will you do to celebrate? I have two suggestions: you can start now to create an apron for the apron challenge at and you can join all those "lazies" at by joining the challenge to Make 2 Give 2! Check out these two creative options for expressing your love for sewing!

Apron Memories
My first sewing project for 4-H was a little printed gingham apron—completely made by hand. I learned to do the slipstitch to perfection on the the two side hems and the top and bottom hems. It was just a simple hemmed rectangle with a casing for the ribbon tie—but in my untrained, little-girl fingers, it seemed to take forever. With all the renewed interest in apron sewing these days, I've been thinking a lot of my grandmothers, who always wore aprons. Do you have any fond memories of your mother's or grandmothers' aprons—or any bits of wisdom that they dispensed? I'd love to hear your comments on this topic. At the end of the post, click on "Comments" to open a window and share your thoughts.

Special Offer for National Sewing Month...Free Shipping
Check out my patterns at
You'll find my popular totes, a few quilts, a great little jacket, and some fun placemats to sew for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Send an order with your personal check or money order (US funds only), and the shipping is free. Yes, you'll need to use snail mail to order. Print the order form on the website and fill it out, or just write one out on your own. Offer is valid for orders with postmarks through the end of September 2008 only!

Rockin' and a Rollin' with the Waves!
As I post this, we're tied up dockside at Kingston, WA, harbor, just inside the breakwater. We spent a long night in a heavy rainstorm and woke in the middle of the night to a windstorm rocking the boat and whistling overhead. It's been a long time since I've heard the wind whistling like that. We were glad to be in our cozy "stateroom" on the boat, instead of in a tent somewhere. We're staying here another night as more "weather" is due. Then we'll decide if it's time to work our way homeward. In my last post, I shared that a rainbow appeared over Poulsbo Bay—this is the best shot from that day.

Today Is "Just Because Day"
What will you do today, "just because?" Take a nap, go for walk somewhere new, clean up the sewing room? So many options!

It's also the anniversary of Mother Teresa's birth in 1910.

Tomorrow is Dream Day—in honor of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech given in 1963. What do you dream of? Dreams can't come true if you don't first birth them and speak them to give them a life.

Until next time,
Keep sewing and smiling!
"Peace is not something you wish for; it's something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum

Monday, August 25, 2008

Glass, Glass Everywhere...and Not a Drop to Drink!

No, you cannot drink from the glass at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, but you can drink in vibrant color and inspiration with every step through the galleries and gift shop and along the Chihuly Bridge of Glass!

The Beckoning Cone
Just above our slip at the Dock Street Marina, the giant metal cone that marks the Museum of Glass beckoned us to the world's largest Hot Shop amphitheater—a unique space where you can sit, stadium-style, to watch artists at work, creating new glass pieces before your very eyes. A large screen above the work area, which houses several glory holes—furnaces roaring at over 2300˚F—provides a birdseye view of the process as glassworkers withdraw molten glass on a rod to be worked into shape before returning to the oven—again and again. One false move—and they must begin again! A commentator with mic in hand also keeps the audience apprised of what's happening. We entered the amphitheater to watch the last 30 minutes of work on a piece by the glass artist of the day and the crew in the pit. We stayed to watch as they broke it from the rod and carefully laid it to rest in one of the annealing ovens that gradually lower the temperature of the finished pieces over a period of days so that they slowly cool and avoid cracking into a million little pieces. Fascinating!

Even if glass is not your thing, I recommend a stop at this relatively new art museum (6 years old), just for the walk along the Dale Chihuly Bridge of Glass. The colorful work of Chihuly, a Tacoma native, is showcased along this bridge connecting downtown Tacoma with the waterfront where we were docked.

Two large stacks of irregular glass cubes invite you to travel further. The day was gloriously clear. Up close and personal, the glass looked like big chunks of aquamarine ice tossed and stacked on a whim.

Whether coming or going from the docks, you'll find yourself beneath a ceiling canopy of glass—multiple panels full of organic glass shapes in striking color and pattern. Look up! You don't want to miss any of it! Lots of inspiration here for works in fiber—an art quilt perhaps?

Once beyond the glass canopy, walk through another display of organic glass pieces by international artist's before arriving at the cone where I took this photo series. I love shots that are not centered or not what you might except—a different perspective. The results with the museum roof intersecting the cone created interesting juxtapositions, don't you think?

We took a tour of the three galleries in the museum with an excellent docent and were glad we chose Saturday because the current large exhibit there closed today. We were treated to a tour of "Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass." As I write, the exhibit is being dismantled to travel to six American locations. Watch for it, as it is a fascinating look at the transformation in one artist's work over a lifetime, an artist who is said to have changed the face of art glass in America and around the world.

The next exhibit, "Dante Marioni: Form, Color, Pattern" was also interesting, but I especially enjoyed "Contrasts: A Glass Primer," which shows through October 12, 2009. When you enter this gallery, you are confronted with a question: "I like it; I don't like it. Is there another way to view art?'' or something akin to those words. The exhibit contains work by many artists, pieces placed side by side that show contrasts: consider a large, lacy glass fly in juxtaposition to a green glass "cinder block" that took two men to lift into place—both glass but oh so different!

If you love museums, take a walk back along the bridge to the Washington State History Museum to your left, and the Tacoma Art Museum, a few blocks to the right. We left both of those for another visit. As you walk that way, savor all the shapes—the giant cone, the museum roofline, the glass stacks and the old Union Station, now the United States Courthouse to the right.

A note for boaters: The Dock Street Marina is convenient to the museums and downtown restaurants, but we found this large port far too noisy for our liking. With the Tacoma Dome and I-5 in view in one direction and a very busy railway running parallel to dockside, we won't choose to overnight there again. Hanging out and swinging on our anchor is more to our liking—private and quiet with just the sound of water lapping at the bow and a few gulls over head—that's what we both love.
Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Quilts
It's Monday as I finish this post and we are, indeed, swinging at anchor in the harbor at Poulsbo, WA, hoping for sunshine. There was a hint of it, but as we sat down to lunch in Poulsbo, the next deluge began. After lunch, we made our annual pilgrimage (twice now in almost two years of marriage) to Boehm's Chocolates for an ice cream bar, freshly dipped in chocolate and nuts. The proof is in the pictures! It's a must-stop location if you find yourself in this little Norwegian-style town, just north of Bremerton and west of Seattle. After all, chocolate is one of the main food groups, along with ice cream—right?

There's a nice quilt shop in Poulsbo, too—Heirloom Quilts and Fabrics. Unfortunately, I could only peek in the windows as the shop was closed so the staff could attend a memorial service. Lots of "eye candy" inside, though!

Depending on what the weather brings, we'll head out tomorrow for Port Townsend and then Victoria, BC, for a few days. As I post this, it's not looking particularly favorable, although we did see a complete rainbow over Poulsbo after the last squall--perhaps a good omen? Until next time,
Keep sewing and smiling!
And, remember that peace begins at home. When every home is at peace, then we will truly have peace in the whole world.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blue Skies and Sunshine

...and we're on our way. The smile on Stan's face as we set off this morning was priceless—he loves boating and I'm so glad it makes him happy. His great smile is one of his many main attractions. Today he was beaming!

Actually, as I write this entry, we have already docked in Tacoma (on Friday afternoon) and just above our moorage is Museum of Glass—an interesting structure that we'll explore tomorrow. The photo at left is of the large sky-reaching cone that houses the furnaces where demos on glassmaking are done each day.

As we cruised in the fresh air and bright sunshine, Mount Ranier shone forth in all its glory—one big ice cream cone in the sky with a little puff of cloud to it's left and a bit of a cloud "bonnet" on top. We had glimpses of the Olympics, too, but Ranier was the piece de resistance.

I remember the first time I saw Mount Ranier—a hot, clear day in late June or early July of 1969. I'd graduated from college (Colorado State University) with a degree in Textiles and Clothing on June 10th. With Mom and Dad along for the ride (I'd only just bought my first car and gotten my driver's license) and my very few belongings stashed in the trunk, we drove to Seattle for my first job, arriving in time for me to start work on the 16th. That was the year that Perry Como's "The Bluest Skies You've Ever Seen Are in Seattle" was popular and it was my theme song as I waited to hear after my interview for Department Assistant at Unique Zipper Company. To my great joy, the call came, I was hired, and I was on my way. My journey in the home sewing business had begun. I'd had only two job interviews and had landed the one I most wanted--for a whopping salary of $5,000 a year!

I found an apartment with another home ec graduate who had been hired by Unique, too. One morning, on the way to work, we rounded the bend under an overpass—and there it was in all its glory—the most beautiful mountain I had ever seen! Mount Ranier! When I left Seattle in late July for a new position with Unique in the Bay Area as Educational Representative, I vowed I would return to Seattle one day. I did, for six weeks in 1971, before packing my growing collection of belongings for the next company move to the NYC area. I said farewell to my mountain, and again I said I'd be back! And here I am enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of Puget Sound on a cruiser with my soulmate and Mount Ranier looking down on me. I am truly blessed!

Lines… Inches…Millimeters
Perhaps you've wondered why these measurements are often printed on button cards. I've been working on my next sewing book this week and have been writing about closures, specifically, buttons. Since I knew my editor would want to know what the term "line" on a button card means, I did a little research—on-line, of course! Line (or ligne in French) is an old measurement for button size, according to one source. A 1"-diameter button has 40 lines—but just exactly how lines are measured I have yet to learn. If anyone knows, I hope you will share in a comment.

Until next time--when I'll share photos from the Museum of Glass in Tacoma...

Keep sewing and smiling!

"Peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families. If we want to spread joy, we need for every family to have joy." Mother Teresa

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I did it!

I started my blog--after months of thinking about it. What spurred me to action? My dear friend, Susan Foster ( pointed me to The Rough Guide to Blogging. After reading a few chapters, I decided to take action instead of reading the entire book first--and made it easy--far easier than I had anticipated! By the way, I really found this book much easier to read and follow than any of those geared and titled to those of us who think we don't know much--I'm sure you know what I mean.

I did lose my first draft of this post due to technical errors created by a computer gremlin that has now been banished--so I get to write this one again. Ah, the joys and frustrations of the computer age! But, I wouldn't be able to do my many jobs without one

By the way, if you are traveling and worried about how to pack in these days of tightening restrictions, visit Susan's site, sign up for her e-letter, and order her book, Smart Packing for Today's Traveler. I edited it and it is full of fabulous information. Susan travels a lot and has a lot to say about how to pack for safe, easy, and happy traveling in comfort and in style.

Another thing Susan reminded me of was a favorite directive from Annie LaMott, author of Bird by Bird, my favorite book on writing. To paraphrase, in order to write (or in this case to blog), you must first put your butt in the chair--and if you don't have a good chair, go out and buy one so you have no excuses. Now that I've done that (put my butt in a chair, on our boat in Puget Sound), I think I will enjoy the process. I've been missing my bimonthly communication with other sewing and quilting enthusiasts via my old e-letter as the former editor of Sewing Savvy magazine, so I hope my readers will find me here, along with many new ones!

Vacation Stall
I'm sitting on our boat, writing this first post, because we didn't leave as planned for our two-week vacation cruise on Puget Sound. The weather interfered as is oft the case here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. We'll leave tomorrow as the weather is due to be nice (it's sunny and cool as I write) and head from our Olympia moorage to Tacoma. We plan to visit the Glass Museum there, which friends say is well worth the stop. If the weather continues to cooperate, we'll make it all the way to Victoria, BC, before turning to head for home after Labor Day. If not, we'll take it one day at a time and enjoy the scenery and the peaceful rocking of the boat at night. Sort of like camping out, but cozier, warmer and much drier!

Boating is a new adventure for me, with my sweet husband of nearly two years. Our 38-foot SeaRay cruiser is comfortable for two--now Stan is trying to convince me we could live on it and that I could have my sewing machine (and all the stuff that goes with it?) onboard, too. I'm not so sure he will be able to convince me of that! We'll see what retirement brings on Pier Pleasure--which we may rename, since it came with the boat. Sea for Two is one of our favorite choices for renaming it.

A New Website
Since I left my post of Editor at Sewing Savvy last spring, I've been plenty busy! Stan's work as a project manager has required multiple trips to Maui over the past 18 months and I've been able to tag along with him for several weeks at a time in the past year. The best trips were the ones I took this winter and spring. Sunshine in Maui is a great substitute for the gray, cold, and rainy days that always come in the winter and early spring months in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I spent time in the sun on all my visits while Stan worked with the County of Maui on a safety radio project, but I also worked.

First, I worked on my website, It took a lot of work to figure out how to do it myself on and I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone less experienced than I am--but it's done and functioning--one more goal off the list. My graphic designer, Missy Shepler, did a great job with my logo. Visit her lovely blog at At my website, you can read about my sewing career, my writing and editing services (All the Write Words), and my pattern line (Jo-Lydia's Attic). You can order my patterns there--by snail mail until I add PayPal--soon I hope. My tote bag patterns are ever-popular, plus there are a few quilt patterns and a garment pattern, too. Unless I'm traveling, orders go out within 24 hours.

Birthing a New Book
October to April found me at the computer nonstop, writing The Quilting Answer Book for Storey Publishing, where I worked briefly in 1998 before returning to the Portland area. Funny how things happen! The book is a 400-page handbook answering all the questions that might come up when making a quilt. With over 230 illustrations, it's jam-packed with info in a small size that will be easy to keep at your fingertips by your sewing machine! I've had a peek at the edited text and illustrations and look forward to seeing it in page layouts in October. It will be published in late spring 2009--I'll keep you posted on the pub date and post a photo of the cover after it's been finalized. I've had a few months off from the book-writing process, but am now working on the next one for Storey--this one on sewing. More about that as the work progresses.

I did end up with tendinitis and a sore shoulder during the writing--too much time at the computer for long periods--I don't recommend it. A great massage therapist, plus a fabulous stretching exercise program--The Egoscue Method--has provided much relief. I can't recommend the Egoscue DVDs enough. After years of making a rounded, forward-shoulder adjustment when sewing blouses and jackets, that's no longer necessary as the exercises have corrected the problem, improved my balance and posture in general and improved my leg and arm strength. I'll post the name of the program in my reading list--when I find the whole thing.

Working Part-time
I'm also working one day a week at The Fabric Shop Network, the only trade association for quilt and fabric store owners and offering lots of benefits, programs, and a great magazine. Visit for more info if you're a store owner.

Fabshopnet is also the originator of the popular on-line shopping adventure--fabshophop-- --for consumers. You can shop in jammies at well over 100 sites during each of the hops scheduled during the year. There's one starting on September 1st, so hope on over there and register at
http://www.fabshophop/ so you don't miss a day of hopping and shopping for fabrics and other great stuff. Watch for sales items and make sure you register at each site so you're in the drawing for some really great door prizes, including a sewing machine!

And, their new consumer website, is up and running, too. I helped with that. You can go to the site to see what's happening in the world of apron sewing, join an apron challenge, find shops that will be participating in National Tie One On Day (an apron that is), and look for shops that will be offering Apron-icity classes or events in their stores.

Break Time
Back from a break. We took a lovely walk in the sunshine just now and I was struck at how quickly the summer is beginning to fade. All it takes is a little rain after a long, dry summer to remind one that the warm days are waning! I've been reading a wonderful book, Plum Wine, set in Japan. It featured several pieces of haiku (Japanese poetry). As we walked, these words came to mind--not haiku, but similar.

Leaves crisped by summer sun...
click and tumble
across rain-washed sidewalks
and windswept pathways...
sure signs of autumn's imminence.

Lovely Lanai
My last trip to Maui with Stan was in June. We spent a week in Maui, then took the ferry to Lanai for 5 days, where we stayed at the Koele Lodge, a 5-star Four Seasons Lodge. It was to die for--I felt like a princess and was treated like one. Stan had to work during the days while I used the spa, wandered the grounds, and sat on the lanai, working on the next book. The grounds are exquisite and so is the service and the food. My favorite spot was the orchid house, a glass structure imported from Europe and filled to overflowing with beautiful orchids.

Lanai isn't a particularly beautiful or lush island, but Koele Lodge is a lovely oasis there. The temps in June were in the high 70s and not too humid. Not what I expected--more like being in Colorado in the spring than Hawaii in the summer. There is red dirt all over the island--another reminder of home in Colorado.

Next we puddle-jumped to Molokai--quite a contrast to Lanai--the old Hawaii, Stan says. We stayed in a condo with ocean views and had our own brood of feral chicks that made the rounds with "Mom" several times a day. Moloai Kitty (our name), came to visit each night. I re-read Michener's Hawaii on this trip and it made much more sense since I was there! We went to the lookout where we could see the leper colony that figured in the story. We said farewell to Molokai and returned to Maui to a regular hotel--another big contrast from the Lodge--before returning home.

New Patterns Coming
I've spent the last two months on home dec painting projects and in my studio developing new patterns for Jo-Lydia's Attic. A wonderful new quilted travel tote and a special travel wallet for sewers and quilters are in the illustration phase and will be ready to post on the website. Watch for them there and ask for them at your local shop or order online.

A Granddaughter to Love
We were blessed with the birth of our beautiful granddaughter in March (Stan's daughter and son-in-law are the parents) and I am loving being "grammy" to Kendall. She's had her first ride on Grandpa's boat--he's in love with the "punkin" as he calls her. She is a happy girl, always smiling and giggling now at 5 months. She has her first grammy quilt and of course I'm dreaming of the day when she can sit in my lap and sew with me like I did with my grandmothers when I was little. Oh what fun we will have!

I've babbled along long enough for a first post and so will wrap this up, hoping to see you here often for my news, plus sewing tidbits. I hope to add some tutorials on sewing and quilting as time permits and share other sewing and quilting news as it develops.

Until next time,
Keep on sewing and smiling!!