Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cancer comfort quilt day

Carol Arnold, who started the group in 2002 as a breast cancer survivor, pins blocks to the design wall during this week's work session.

When I wrote about the Comfort Quilt Project here a year ago, our Gig Harbor group had made and donated about 750 quilts to cancer patients. As of this week, the total is:

880 donated quilts!

We pieced these blocks this week and pinned them to the wall to decide on the final arrangement.

All of the fabric is donated, and once a month a group gathers at Harbor Quilt to sew colorful blocks together. Carol does most of the planning, so all we have to do is sew, chat and snack. What could be better than that? Longarm quilters take the finished tops and quilt them at their homes, then other volunteers sew on the binding and labels.

The quilts are distributed through Dr. Frank Senecal's offices at Tacoma Hematology/Oncology, with the hope that the patients will feel wrapped in warm hugs during their treatments.

A finished top awaits quilting.

Have a colorful day!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Easter Bunners!

Oh the indignities one suffers when you are a pet rabbit at Easter. This year I let Bunners off easy and only set him briefly in the planter for a quick photo with our metal rabbit. He was confused.

His first Easter with us, we filled his favorite lounging bin with colored eggs, thinking it would be fun and festive for him. He was upset, so we never did that again. Another year we made him pose endlessly in a big front porch flower planter with fake flowers until the sun hit his whiskers just right for the portrait. It was stunning! Here it is:

"Is this almost over?"

"They're finally letting me rest."

Have a colorful Easter!

Earth Day in Gig Harbor

Harbor WildWatch volunteers
gather critters for the touch tanks ...

The educational sailing ship Adventuress offers tours ...

And SUNSHINE attracts walkers to the harbor.

Gig Harbor was buzzing Friday with Earth Day activities, made even more enjoyable by the sunshine. After taking dozens of photos, I realized my camera setting had somehow been switched to low-resolution so these aren't as clear as I had hoped. But I'll show some of the marine creatures that Harbor WildWatch displayed in its touch tanks at the historic Skansie Net Shed downtown. (Only gentle, one-finger touches allowed.) They all came from the water right off our public dock and were carefully returned a few hours later.

Check out HWW at to learn more about its mission to inspire stewardship of the Puget Sound. It has a lot of beach and dock activities planned for the summer that are free to the public.

The mighty sea cucumber!

A naturalist volunteer displays the underside of a sea star.

A mottled sea star gets a dusting from a tube worm.

Smaller ochre sea star has lost one of its five arms.

Back outside:

A heron scouts for food at low tide.

A nesting Killdeer was spotted near Eddon's Landing.

Have a colorful day

Friday, April 22, 2011

Seeking crazy quilt info

My friend recently found this vibrant unfinished crazy quilt in her mother-in-law's cedar chest. I love the bright, cheerful colors so much that I asked if I could put it on the blog, so here it is!

Here's a close look at the hand embroidery that covers every seam. Below is a shot of the back.

If anyone out there can help us determine the era and value of this quilt, which is in excellent condition, we'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment here or e-mail me at

Thanks and have a colorful day!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On the road again ...

After weeks of hand embroidery and fabric painting, I finally got behind the wheel of the sewing machine last week for some machine quilting. I felt like I was cruising down the highway, taking the curves nice and steady, rolling along so much faster than with the hand stitching.

Life in the fast lane!

The fabric I painted last week, collaged and half-quilted.

If you've never done long, sinuous, free-form machine quilting, let me tell you this: It's like cruisin' down the highway, leaning into the curves and responding to whatever comes along, like safety pins or a loose flap of silk. Such an exciting life.

The week ended with Sew Day with the Twisted Nuts, and I took these photos of Nancy's extremely organized embroidery floss binder in case you need an idea for organizing your floss. Here's a side view showing the beautiful color assortment:

I forget to get a photo of the platter of homemade sticky buns until it was too late. We dove right in like starving children, and by the time I thought to get a photo there was only one left. But I did get a cupcake picture:

Have a sweet day

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

Spring teased us again yesterday
with a full day of sun for our walk through
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
east of Olympia, WA.

Miles of boardwalks allow human visitors to enjoy the rich river delta while protecting the wildlife habitat. The Nisqually River estuary was restored in 2009 by removing dikes and reconnecting 762 acres with the saltwater tides of the Puget Sound.

Fields, woodland, marshes, mudflats and ponds cover the area and are home (or migratory resting stop) to a large number of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. (I think that covers them all.) 

Above, a still snowy Mt. Rainier rises beyond the trees.

Below, a Great Horned Owl and its baby
perch high above the trail. 

These yellow blooms are perky and cheerful,
but they stink to high heaven.
They're called skunk lillies for good reason.

It's good to look back at this peaceful reflection from yesterday as the hail pounds the deck outside of my window as I type this. Like I said, spring was just teasing us.

Have a colorful day!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Embroidery, paint and Chihuly

I'm starting to chain stitch with lime around the leaves.
"Yoga Mat Series" by Sherrie Spangler

Now that I've rediscovered the pleasures of hand embroidery,
I've decided to go with the flow
and highlight the leaves of this old piece
with a lime chain stitch.

The machine applique is too weak,
so I'll just go around it
with something stronger.

The new section is on the left.
The old, wimpy side is on the right.

And look at what two French knots can do!
They've turned this abstract shape into ...
an animal face?

Moving on to some fabric painting ...
I took a break from the embroidery yesterday
to replenish the stash of painted yardage.

The top piece, cotton, is dry and ironed.
Bottom piece, silk chiffon, is still wet.
I scrunch it up and it dries in interesting patterns.

Moving on to Chihuly glass in a garden setting:

Here are some photos I took last April at the little gem in Tacoma's park system called the W.W. Seymour Botonical Conservatory. It's tucked away in Wright Park and has a new exhibit every month. Last year I stumbled upon a fantastic selection of Chihuly glass intermingled with spring blooms.

I offer these up for more artistic inspiration.

Have a colorful day!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beading in the SUN!!!

The SUN came out today!!!

Light-deprived citizens throughout the land came out to soak up the sunshine. I decided it was a good day to add gold beads to the petro people's landscape, so I took my supplies out on the front porch in our patch of sun.

Then I took a break from that project to haul another one out of the vault:

I started this one a year or two ago, inspired by the design on my yoga mat. I tried embroidering by machine with decorative stitches and rayon thread, but decided I liked the hand embroidery better.

I wasn't the only one drawn outside by the sun. Our neighbor Dick pruned the apple trees, giving Ben Bailey plenty of new sticks to chew on.

Is spring finally here?

Have a colorful day!