Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's a new Ezine #001?

A group of 16 textile artists have been working hard for some time, coming up with ideas for original work. They began a blog in Jan 2011 called The Sketchbook Challenge. They have now combined their ideas in a magazine format, that is available for purchase.You print it at home, and they even give you instructions for binding it, if you desire.

I have just looked over the first issue. 13 of the artists have contributed to issue # 001. There is a wealth of color, art, ideas and information to peruse.  The artful look is a little different than most how-to magazines which makes it fresh and freewheeling. Each article carries the essence of the individual author and delights you with color and ideas.  There will be something in every issue that you will find of interest.  It will stretch your creative muscles.  Mine need stretching!  There are 83 pages, larger and more idea-packed than I expected.

The articles include:
  • How to Draw a Pinecone by Jane La Fazio
  • Make a Sketchbook Sleeve by Sue Bleiweiss
  • Remedies for Blank Pages by Carol Sloan
  • Take your Pencil Out to Eat by Susan R. Sorrell
  • and the list goes on and on.  Here is the link where you can check it out yourself:  Ezine #001 to look inside the issue and order.
Do not let the plain brown wrapper/cover deter you from opening these magical pages. There is something wonderful inside waiting for you. Read Lyric Kinard's piece on Making Bad Art. I've made alot of what she is suggesting, but she encourages the reader to keep working!

Let me know how you like it.

Ann Fahl

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Gardening Tip for Hosta Lovers

One of my curly leaf hosta Sep 2011 with no treatment
Last spring I read a newspaper column about problems with Hosta.( I'm sorry I don't remember the author.) Hosta are the plants that thrive in the shade. Since that is all I have, there are plenty of hostas in my garden.  The problem discussed in the paper was: "slugs causing lots of holes in the leaves" of the plants by midsummer. Now this isn't something that is so troublesome that I lie awake nights. But this is continually a gardening issue. The usual solution is to put saucers of beer under the plants and the slugs drown in it. This isn't for me. I'm not going to spend my life putting beer underneath all my hosta.

Well this new tip is a little bit weird too, but it was do-able for me. The author suggested putting crushed egg shells under the plants.  The slugs avoid the shells because they are sharp. This made lots of sense to me, and I'm always looking for non-chemical solutions. I have two different types of hosta that are particularly susceptible to the "hole issue," so I tried this new technique on them.  It works! The plants that become most holey are variegated leaves with large amounts of white area.

Here's a curly leaf hosta near my driveway.  This one got the first eggshells of the season! Sep 2011

So, we are eating eggs. Dr. Oz says this is OK!! Saving the shells isn't really a big deal.
  • For raw eggs; after I crack the egg  and drop it into a bowl, Iswish out the shell and let them dry in a container on the counter.
  • For hard boiled eggs; I save the shells as I peel them.
  • In several days time the shells dry out and become quite brittle. It is easy to crush them with your hand and take them out to the garden.
Ann's eggshell collection for 2012
Now I'm saving shells for next year. I'll just store them in a zip lock bag in the garage! Let's say, you save too many, not a problem.  Just throw the extras in your compost pile (if you have one) behind the garage.  Ground up, they are good for the soil.

Look out slugs, next spring you are in trouble!


Friday, September 23, 2011

The Really Big Show

Here's the UPS truck, loaded with my treasured quilts, heading down the street on the way to La Conner!
 After spending most of 3 days packing quilts, I am now done.  There are 8 boxes packed, sealed and labeled for UPS.  There are more than 30 quilts rolled up in these boxes. This exhibit has taken more of my time, than any other I've done.

The next part is they have to travel from here in Wisconsin to north of Seattle to La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum. This is a long trip for the quilts, so this shipping bill will be a big one.

There were so many decisions to make. If you have an exhibit, large or small in your future, here are some things that I did as part of the plan that might help you.
  • I sent out a pile of show proposals to quilt museums around the country. 5 years ago!
  • Decide on a title: The Quilted Garden (this was a year ago.)
  • Choose the works to be included-2 months before
  • Arrange the quilts on the floor plan of the La Conner
  • Draw up an inventory list with sizes, prices and descriptions for signs and send to La Conner
  • Send out publicity to as many web sites and print media as possible, 3-6 mo. ahead
  • A special quilt was made to anchor the exhibit Coneflower Fiesta
  • Now it is all packed up in U Line telescoping boxes and ready for the UPS man to pick them up. I usually take them to UPS myself, but my car isn't big enough to hold all the cartons. I now have more respect for the after the show crews that pack up all the quilts and return them to their owners! This was lots of work.
  • I sent an inventory of the quilts; their sizes and values to my insurance agent.  We had to discuss my coverage and made some adjustments to my "inland marine" policy.  If you enter shows and competitions, you need one of these policies. Homeowners insurance won't cover quilts that travel. I am grateful to my State Farm agent for spending so much time with me on the phone, and working out something that I could afford.
  • Also I shipped a separate box of books, patterns and booklets for the giftshop at the La Conner to sell, so if you find your way to the show, you can see my new Oreo book.
Coneflower Fiesta, the featured quilt of my upcoming exhibit.
I hope many of you in the northwest will be able to see the show. A huge amount of effort has been put towards the show.  The show opens Oct 5 and closes Dec 31, 2011. The hours of the show are: Wed-Sun: 11am-5pm; Mon & Tues By appointment only. The La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum, 703 S. Second St., La Conner, WA 98257, 360-466-4288.  Open to the public, admission fee for non members. For more information go to the museum's website.

Please tell all your friends and local guilds about my show. I'd like it to be the best one they have ever had!

Oh yes, UPS did a great job, and the quilts safely arrived in under 5 days. No more worries there.

Ann Fahl

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Variegated Thread

Warning: do not quilt the cat!
Next year, I'll be teaching at the AQS show in Paducah. One of the workshops will be called Colorful Machine Quilting.

I've been making samples and handouts this week. It's always fun to make some unexpected discoveries.  The quilt sample consists of strips in three colors, which I used to quilt across with variegated threads.  Here is what happened.

First I chose a multiple variegated thread in primary colors that includes: red, yellow, blue and green. It looks wonderful on the red and yellow. Look closely and you will see that the yellow portion disappears on the yellow fabric, and the same with the read.  It still is wonderful! Rainbow #813.

Here is the multi-varigated on rich blue.  All the colors in the variegation are visible because the blue segment is lighter in color.
Superior Thread came out with a new red/green thread.  This is Rainbow #863. I'm not a Christmassy kind of person but the red and green looked beautiful on the spool.  This thread "sings" on the yellow side, but lacks punch on the red.
The same red and green also looks beautiful on this rich blue fabric.

I guess when it comes down to it; it is much more fun to quilt with a variegated thread on a contrasting fabric.  Do not attempt this while a cat is present!

An update on the Gingko Table Runner from variegated previous posts:  It is now available on
You can download this pattern:  Autumn Ginkgo Table Runner, and don't have to pay shipping!
Have fun with variegated thread.  I always do.  Perhaps that's why it is my middle name.

Ann Variegated Fahl

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's One of Those Days

The pink super bells grow vigorously on my deck. The red geranium was a gift from Laura Wasilowski!
Today is a beautiful crisp sunny day. My husband played golf, so I had the house to myself, didn't even have to make lunch for anyone.  So what's the problem?

I can't figure out the passwords for all of my Amazon's accounts. There are many, one for being a book customer, one for author central, one for the author's page, amazon advantage, and last of all the publishers page vendor central.  I'm locked out of all but one, they won't even send me anymore temporary passwords because I answer the test questions wrong. I'm trying to get everything set up for my book A Black and White Tale. It happened last night, I tried again today with similar issues, so I'll deal with this "another day!"

This isn't the best way to begin the day, it brings a black cloud over everything else.So I've started a new book which interests me, had a cup of tea, and I thought it was time to write another blog.

September is a wonderful month in Wisconsin.  It is sunny and dry, very comfortable weather all month.  It also means shorter days and winter is coming. My garden looks beautiful. The black eyed susans have lasted a very long time.  I have put them in bouquets throughout the house.
A corner of my container garden on the deck.  The frosty white clematis is in its glory today. The magenta geranium was a hold over from last year. Don't the angled boards of the floor look wonderful?

One of the joys for me is to have flowers filling the house.  While I'm making dinner I'll make one or two little arrangements for every room. This is what makes gardening worth the effort. Here's a little tour of my house.
This is the kitchen sink bouquet.  It gets the left-overs or flowers with broken stems.
In the living room there is a little bit of goldenrod mixed in with black eyed susans and a few other things. You can read more about the quilt here.

Today the diningroom table gets this little old vase with a sprig of the first mums to bloom.

The vase is hand made by the potter at Winona Lake. This one sits by the stove in the kitchen.

Here is that wonderful purple vase that is immortalized in 2 of my quilts. In front of my Purple Iris quilt.
So you've had a little private tour of my floral arrangements and deck garden.  I have saved the best until last!  At lunchtime today, I went to change the water in my birdbath. I carefully slid open the screen door and Oreo shot out of the door so fast, she was a blur. Forgetting to slide the screen closed I rushed after her, down the stairs, where she had already cornered a little chipmunk.

She grabbed it in her mouth, ran up the stairs, through the open door and dropped it on the carpet in the middle of the dining room! It was stunned and had no idea what had happened.  I was yelling and knew I had to pick it up, but with what? I ran to the kitchen, there was an empty oatmeal carton on the counter. I dumped out the newspaper that was rolled up inside and ran back to the dining room.

The chipmunk was gone!! Oreo was chasing it around the table, around the xmas cactus, behind the clock, under the sofa and back again.  She caught it and dropped it back in that "favorite spot" on the rug in the dining room. I put the oatmeal box on top of it, slid a newspaper underneath it. I was shaking after all the excitement.  This time I carefully opened the screen door again, set everything down on the deck, taking a moment to calm myself, quickly lifted the oatmeal container, backed into the house and closed the screen.

Let me collect myself for a moment.  My heart is beating fast just thinking about this! The little guy limped away, and hasn't been seen since.  Oreo keeps looking for him, but he is not to be found.  Just think I could have had a chipmunk in the house wondering around all night.  AAARRRGGGHHH.

And you thought I was giving you a tour of my flower arrangements.  I was showing you most of the places that a chipmunk had visited today.

Have a better day.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Eureka! A New Favorite Variegated!

Close up of quilting with YLI Variations #21V
 I'm still working on the same new table runner pattern.  I am quilting the soft cream mottled background with a YLI Variegated thread I purchased in NC a few months ago.  For years I have hoped to find a soft variegated thread that would be appropriate for fabrics which were soft neutral colors; muslin would be an example.  And there was a small cone of sand #21V sitting on the table in the YLI booth at the show. It was mine! How could I have missed this color combination?
I've been quilting with it for 2 days now, and it is exactly what I wanted.  Because it is subtle, I don't know if the photos will really show how great it is, but I'll show you anyhow.

This thread is a tri-lobal polyester thread, which is stitching on my machine like a dream, it is on a thread stand and it unreels smoothly with no problems. This isn't the shiniest thread on the market, but it does have a nice sheen to help emphasize the stitching. I am using The Bottom Line thread in the bobbin and a Titanium topstitch needle size 14. There is a Fairfield Soft Touch batting in the sandwich. I need something that isn't too puffy and is absorbent for use on the table.
Another closeup of the quilting
It's fun to find a thread that works well.  I've used YLI's Variations thread before, but never had this particular color in my collection. Now I do!

Hope all of you have a variegated holiday weekend.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Beauty of Variegated Thread

Red ginkgo leaf on table runner by Ann Fahl (c) 2011
Right now, I'm developing a new pattern for a table runner.  This is my first attempt to design a smaller project that a beginner might choose.  The runner has just 7 large Ginkgo leaves going down the center, with a few smaller leaves sprinkled in.  You can machine applique the leaves or use free-motion embroidery to hold them in place.  Eventually this pattern will be available on
Closeup of embroidery
 I completed the embroidery yesterday. Now I've been embroidering for years but the effects that variegated thread has on a project never ceases to amaze me.  How can you not love this red variegated thread on red fabric?
Really a closeup of embroidery on ginkgo leaf

Try a beautiful polyester or rayon variegated thread in your next project.  It adds a dimension that solid color threads do not.

If you are wondering which thread this is, it is Superior Threads Rainbow #832.