Is It Dog Days Yet?

Is It Dog Days Yet?

It’s hard to believe that it’s already August.  Now that we’ve survived the great Northwest Heatwave, we are enjoying low 90’s and smoky  weather – warmer than average and cooler than last week   I’m not complaining, mostly because I whined all winter about how cold and snowy and rainy it was.  The only upside of the smoke is the colorful sunrises and sunsets it makes.

I’ve been dividing my hot afternoons between quilting “Snapshots,” piecing a Jacqueline de Jonge kit called “Enchanting Stars,” and painting a decoration for Halloween.

“Snapshots” won’t have fancy quilting as it would just disappear.  It just got kind of big so will take a bit of time to quilt.

I bought the “Enchanting Stars” kit when I went to the Quilt Show in Houston a couple (or was it three?) years ago.  When I got home and opened the kit and got a look at the instruction book, I kind of panicked and put it away.  Now that my calmer self is in charge (for the moment) I’m starting to cut and piece.  The trick is not to try to take it all in at once, but to go step by step and not hurry.  This is what I’ve done so far.

This is going to take a while, and I’m enjoying it.

Finally, I’ve spent time in my cool, cool basement working on this project.  It’s not quite finished, but you get the idea.

I’ve been doing decorative painting activities off and on for about 40 years and while I haven’t done original designs, I find it calming to work on projects like this.

Since the begonias live in the shade, they did pretty well in the heat.  One of them makes flowers that look like this.

I’d love to figure out how to piece a thing like this.  Maybe painting it on fabric would be the way to go.

The summer squashes, cucumbers and peppers are doing great.  The tomatoes are taking their sweet time.  Looks like the “farmette” will be active well into fall.  Naturally, the salsa garden ingredients ripen at different times.  The peppers will have to be chopped and frozen since I already have a bunch.

We’re only about ten days away from the solar eclipse.  Oregon is getting ready for a pretty big influx of sky watchers.  The total eclipse will be visible about 40 miles south of here for about two minutes.  Sweet Husband and I are probably going to sit on our front porch and make do with a not-quite-total eclipse.  I’ve only seen one before and it was a bit eerie and very cool.

I’m re-dedicating myself to a regular newsletter.  Among the things we’ll be talking about are tools ( I love gadgets and sometimes I actually use ’em), and the books, magazines, and techniques that I’m finding inspiring or helpful. Because the newsletter is emailed, you have to sign up for it.  Nobody wants unasked for email less than I.  It’s easy and free to sign up at the top right corner of this blog.

This quilt is one I just love for fall.  It’s actually easy to put together.  It’s on sale for the rest of August, so check it out on the shopping page.

And the dog days?  Apparently it has less to do with an actual dog, like Ella, peeking around the corner, below, than it does with the constellation Canis Major and the star Sirius, which marks his nose.  For our canines, late summer is more about laying around in air conditioning.  Also participating in the neighborhood twilight bark.  The dog friends are actually kind of a gossipy bunch.

 

Stay cool and keep quilting for fun!

Candy

 

Deeply Into Summer

Deeply Into Summer

I walked into one of my favorite fabric stores today and right up front and center, what should I see?  Christmas Fabric.  And lots of it.  I’m not ready!  I get it.  If one is going to create some fabulous projects for Christmas (and I mean for 2017), one should probably start now.  I know that Christmas in July is a thing; it’s just not mine.  It kind of reminds me of back-to-school supplies on July 6 in the variety stores.  It’s just too soon.  There’s a fine line between WAY too early and a day late and a dollar short.

It did remind me, however, that it’s time to start Fall and Halloween projects.  The new fabric’s been out for weeks and I still have about a million yards from years gone by.  As I’ve said before, (at least I think so; okay, I’m pretty sure) the biggest problem with Fall and Halloween fabrics is that the prints are so cute, one (me) doesn’t want to cut them up into tiny pieces.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.  So, how about this?

The picture blocks finish at 5 X 7 inches, so it’s possible to use up some  smallish scraps of fun fabric.  It’s also layer cake friendly.  I’ve done some repeats on the quilt above, but if you stay in a somewhat limited palette, you could make all the pictures different.

And yes, it would be great with Christmas prints for the make-way-ahead crowd.

The plan is to have the pattern posted by Tuesday, August 1.

Today, I’ll pick my first tomatoes of the year.  The Sweet Million plant is really going to town.  There’s nothing like meaty, sweet tomatoes from your own yard.  Or Farmer’s Market tomatoes, fresh from someone else’s farm.

 

This is one of the top reasons I love summer.  Also, warm evenings, bare legs, the smell of newly cut hay, and fresh fruit.

So what’s on your quilting list for the week or the month?  Comment on the post, send us an email, include a picture.  We’d love to know what others are working on.  Share us with your quilting friends.  And, of course, keep quilting for fun.

Candy

 

A November Getaway

A November Getaway

Thanksgiving is just a week away and I’m finding I have a lot to be thankful for.  Right now it’s sunny out and around here in November, that’s a big deal.  I have family, friends, a warm house, room to sew and a fat stash.  Having the freedom (if not aways enough time) to create is a gift and for that, I’m very thankful.

Sweet Husband and I took a few days last week to visit Charleston, SC.  We’d never been but heard such great things.  We weren’t disappointed.  The weather was mild, our B and B was delightful and we did touristy things for three fun days.  We also just enjoyed some sun.  It was delightful to just sit and be on this love piazza.

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How can you not love this?

It’s fun to go somewhere that has different history and architecture.  Also, the food was great!

Charleston has some cool fountains and this one was my favorite:

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We took a tour in a carriage pulled by this guy:

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If he could talk, we wouldn’t have needed the driver.  He knew exactly where to go and when to stop.  His name is Gibbs and he wasn’t against being told he’s cute, sniffing me out or getting a nose scratch.  The picture below was taken from the tour.

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I looked to see if there were any quilt shops within walking distance of our apartment.  The only one was supposed to be right across the street.  Sadly, my info was old and the space is occupied by  a local magazine.  I was so bummed.  I do like to see what’s going on with quilting in other places.

My small quilt group made quilts from Tula Pink blocks over the last year.  My top is finished, and I’m just beginning to quilt.  Within the Tula blocks, I’m just stitching some lines in the ditch.

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 The solid black background will be something else, but I think fairly simple as the colored blocks are busy.  I have plenty of time as the deadline isn’t until the end of February.  I do, however, want to get it finished way before the deadline as I find managing to the deadline really stressful.

For any of you gardeners out there, I have a question.  I had a couple of nasturtiums in window boxes last summer, which never really did much.  Now they’ve come back, big time.

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I’ve never had any get this big in the summer!  Do they actually like it cool and damp?  Who knew?

Barb and I wish all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Keep quilting for fun.

Candy

 

Happy Hallowe’en

Happy Hallowe’en

This is what goes on around here at Hallowe’en.

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The “tombstone” at upper left fell over when we had some wind.  Naturally, the mums had been planted about three days before.  As you may have guessed, the center mum was never the same.

The very unfinished quilt top is all from the Hallowe’en stash.  When this is finished, I plan to go right to spring so I have some new things to show.

The little tree is decorated with fall ornaments I found at a quilt show some years ago.

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This picture is not all I’d hoped.  I took it panorama style and had to limit pixels to upload it.  It’s kind of cool, but it bends everything a little.  The table is actually a regular rectangle.  Mona and Maynard spend October having their moment at my dining room table.  The rest of the year they hang out in my office.

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And yes, this actually is in my yard.  The witch has been a Hallowe’en staple for some hard years, but she survives.

The sock is from a wool class I took years ago.  It just pleases me.

I think the last one is self explanatory.

 

Sadly, it’s slated to rain on the Trick or Treaters on Monday, but the weatherman has been wrong before and I can only hope the kids get a break.

Next time I’ll talk about actual quilting.  I have lots of new ideas to try out soon.

In the meantime, here’s Toby –

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“Only two more days until all the kids come to tell me how cute I am!”

Quilt for Fun and Happy Hallowe’en!

Candy

 

Halloween – Quilt for Fun

Halloween – Quilt for Fun

Yesterday was a nearly perfect example of a gorgeous fall day:  calm winds, cloudless blue sky and temperatures in the low 60’s.  It was the kind of day that I could’ve lived sixty times in a row.  Today is still warm and the morning was sunny.  Now high clouds are thickening up and we’re looking at a week of rain.  Swell.  The good news is that I will quilt more because I won’t be tempted to wander outside.

I made good use of lovely yesterday.  This is what 99 planted tulip and hibiscus bulbs look like.

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I’m actually kind of a fan of instant gratification, so next spring seems a long way off.  There are another 99 on the other side of the brick walk.  When they’re colorful and smell like spring, I’ll be glad I took the time to plant them.

About the only things left in the garden that are blooming are the dahlias.  They might be the showiest low-maintenance flower ever.

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I spent last weekend at my quilt guild’s fall retreat.  It’s a good way to get to know other quilters that you see every month, but never really get to talk to.  The retreat center has good food, nice people and a huge, well lit room to sew in.  Out the windows we see things like this:

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And this:

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Also, I didn’t have to let the dogs out, start dinner, or throw a load in the washer.  Always a fun weekend.  Did I finish anything?  Actually, no.  But I made some serious inroads.

Halloween has come to my house.  I used to do a lot of decorative painting.  I still do a little, but there is just not enough time to do it all.  I painted this from a pattern about 20 years ago.

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I have some postcards with similar images that are dated from the early 20th century.  They show lots of witches and jack-o-lanterns and black cats and tend to be more sweet than scary.  I love this holiday for lots of reasons, but mostly because it appeals to my inner eight-year-old.  This is the same child-woman who read Harry Potter books in record time.  The possibility of some magic is a feeling I hope I never lose.  We can all use a little magic in our lives.

If you’ve been living in a cave, you might not know that I have a pretty large stash of Halloween fabric.  In the spirit of denting it, just a little, I’ve started a quilt that I found in the Quilty Easy Modern Quilts magazine (Winter, 2016).  On page 66 a quilt called Giddy Gridlock is featured which told me it needed to be a Halloween quilt.  I have lots of cute prints that I don’t want to cut into tiny pieces and this looks like just the thing.  So here’s my start.

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Here’s to all of us who love out hats and boots and brooms!

Quilt for fun!

Candy

October Color

October Color

It rained here last night.  The kind of rain that actually gets down to the roots.  It’s cool and cloudy and that fall smell is in the air.  It’s a mixture of wet leaves, wet dirt and not enough sun.  In the “olden days,” there would also be burning leaves mixed in and although I totally support the idea of clean air, I do miss that smell in the fall.  There are still lots of leaves on the trees . . . well, some trees.IMG_1221   IMG_1220

Same parking lot, same day, two directions from where I was parked.  Apparently, not everyone is on the same schedule.

 

There is still color in the yard.  The dahlias are going strong and probably will for a few more weeks.  Love those guys.  The hydrangeas are doing their fall thing . . .

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Except for the one below that’s still the color that most of them were throughout the summer.

 

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I’ve never owned any hydrangeas until about two years ago.  Now I’d like a yard full.

And then there is alyssum and one little geranium (the tiny pink thing at the top) that’s trying to hang in.  I just put the ornamental peppers in as they add some much needed bright color.

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I finally got the binding finished on Autumn Sunset.  The pattern is ready and actually pretty easy.  The video on painting highlights and shadows is still on the to do list.  That project will be a learning experience for me.

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The painting part is completely optional.  I just like messing around with it.  The pattern is available over on the Shop page.

I went to the Quilting Expo in Portland last weekend.  There were lots of really great quilts and I took a bunch of pictures.  Sadly, none of them is very focused.  Usually my phone takes great pictures, but I suspect I did snapped and went so quickly that it didn’t have a chance to focus.  Here are a couple that aren’t too bad.

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I enjoyed how the spiral, above, is escaping the edges of the quilt.

Now that it’s October, I’m all about Halloween.  This week most of the decorations will go up.  The outdoor stuff will wait a couple of weeks.

 I dove into the Halloween stash and made this cutie.

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What no home should be without.  The perfect size for my rocking chair.

Drink some cider, eat a pumpkin scones and enjoy this colorful season.

Quilt for Fun!

Candy

For All Who Learn the Hard Way, Like Me

For All Who Learn the Hard Way, Like Me

Autumn Sunset, the pattern, is ready.  I’m currently quilting it (well, I stopped to write this, but you get the picture).  I have a couple of suggestions for this project, and quilting in general to help curb the frustration factor.

  1.  Keep a notebook next to your sewing machine.  Do not move it or put it someplace safe.  It needs to be right where you can get your hands on it.  Write down the threads you’re using for your current project.  Also note any changes you make with regard to needle size and tension.  Even when you use the same machine, things seem to work differently for some projects.  I opted for free-form leaves on Autumn Sunset, using Aurifil 40 weight on the top.  After changing the bobbin thread type twice, the needle twice and messing with the upper tension at least 6 times, I finally got pretty much what I wanted.  While I will tell you that I ended up with Aurifil #40 in the bobbin, a #90 topstitch needle and notching down the tension to 4.8, it would’ve been nice to start with a plan closer to the one that worked.  Write it down.  Someday you’ll thank yourself for this.DSC_0169
  2. Clean out the bobbin assembly A LOT, especially when you’re quilting.  It should be the first place you look when the top thread breaks.  I have no idea why a lint filled bobbin case breaks thread, but it seems to.  It should never look like the inside of the lint trap in your dryer.
  3. Set a timer and take a break.  Take a break earlier if things are going badly.  Please trust me when I tell you that gritting your teeth and battling it out wastes time and energy.  When you get back after your break, it’ll be easier to see what the problem is and how to fix it.

The center part of Autumn Sunset is being quilted with variegated thread.  Because the thread changes from very light yellow to orange to dark purple, the question is, what to use in the bobbin.  No matter what I do, from time to time the bobbin thread shows on the top.  I thought about putting the matching variegated thread in the bottom until I realized that it would almost never match up.  There’s probably more yellow than anything else in that thread,  so I went with yellow for the bobbin thread.  If some yellow pops out in the middle of a purple patch, I’ll deal with it.

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The free flowing leaves is one of my favorite quilting themes.  If you quilt yourself into a corner, just wander out through the leaves to a good area to start making leaves again.  Also, if one turns out kind of weird, just pretend that an unexpected storm clobbered the daylights out of it and keep going.

Fall is really here.  We had enough rain yesterday to actually soak into the ground and by this time of year I’m about done with watering the flower pots so it works out.  It’s time to tear out what’s left of the veggie plants and put in some tulip bulbs and chrysanthemums.  Summer came and went too quickly.  Luckily, fall is lovely here and I intend to enjoy it.

The Northwest Quilting Expo opens in Portland (at the Expo Center) this Thursday and runs through Saturday.  Lots of cool quilts and vendors.  I can hardly wait.

Look around our site and be sure to check out our patterns on the “Shop” page.  All our Halloween patterns are on sale.

Enjoy fall and Quilt For Fun!

Candy

 

Fall for New Beginnings

Fall for New Beginnings

I hope that you had a fun Labor Day Weekend.  Sunday and Monday were cool and cloudy here and while Barb and I planned to both can some tomatoes and freeze fresh peaches, the peach-freezing didn’t happen until this afternoon as the peaches were not ripe enough.  The whole process takes time, but there is just something about a taste of summer in December or January that is so special.

I think fall may be my favorite season of the year.  After the obligatory cool and humid weather of last week, we have sunshine and 80 degrees.  The reds and golds of autumn are right out my window and the nights are cool enough for good sleeping.  Even though it’s been a while (and then some) since we had anyone in school, fall seems like a beginning, a time to get organized and possibly some new shoes.

I find that I’m in the mood to clean up and make a list of my UFO’s.  It’s kind of like getting a new notebook and crayons for the first day of school.  (Remember the smell of floor wax and new crayons?) When I’m deeply into a project, I rarely stop to put things away.  The plan is to clean up after I finish the current project.  What really happens is that I get distracted by 1) taking a class that has nothing to do with what I’m currently working on, 2) the season changes and I’m no longer interested in what I was working on, but want to start something new, or 3) the sun comes out and I go outside and ignore the mess.  So every 2-3 months I need to haul my wandering mind into the present moment and create a neatness, which lowers the anxiety level and fools me into thinking I will get it all done.  Mostly, it’s the simple things:  throw away the empty starch can, put the rulers back in their assigned places, and refile the fabrics I took out to test and then didn’t use and didn’t put away.  Today I put a new cover on my ironing table and put away/threw away a few things that appeared to be nesting there.  It makes me feel tidy.

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(The thread spools on the window ledge were customized by Toby when he was a pup.  He managed to bite most of the way through so that there are few pieces that are longer than 12 inches.)  Even the small things give me the illusion of control.

The Northwest Quilting Expo is just around the corner and I’m ready to be newly inspired.  There is a lot of quilting talent in the Portland area and it’s fun to see what new things have been created.  There’s also a whole boatload of vendors to tickle the imagination and empty the wallet.  I can hardly wait.

Speaking of inspirations, the quilt I showed you last week needs just a couple more pieces appliquéd.

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Since I’m doing it by hand, it takes a while.  The colors in that quilt inspired me to go off on a little tangent of my own.

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I really liked the oranges, yellows and purples and found that I had some batiks with varying degrees of all those colors and went for a gradation in the background.  It’s made up of six-inch double square blocks and the pumpkin plant is fused on.  The plan is to have the pattern ready by late next week.  We can take pre-orders so it will go out as soon as possible.  This pattern will be mailed so that the appliqué pieces will be accurate.  We’ll send these first class (as opposed to mule train) so they’ll get to you fast.

All our Halloween patterns will be on sale through the 10th of October.  It’s about now that I think I have plenty of time for Halloween projects, but these autumn weeks are pretty full and go so fast, it’s good to get started now.

My tomato crop is kind of puny this year, but there’s plenty of zucchini.  Luckily, there are plenty of zucchini recipes out there:  zucchini bread, chocolate chip zucchini bread, chocolate wave zucchini bread and of course all-chocolate zucchini bread.  I’m even known to use it as a vegetable! Truly, about the only thing better than zucchini bread in all its variations is pumpkin bread.  It’s a shame I don’t like to make salad nearly as much as I like to bake.

Someone brown and furry (not to mention freshly groomed and wearing her new collar) is telling me it’s time to get her some dinner.  Just look at that cheesy smile.  Ella is not terribly subtle at the best of times and comes on pretty strong when it’s meal time, so I’d better get with it.

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I’ll work on the new pattern as fast as I can.

Quilt for fun!

Candy

Perfectly Fall

Perfectly Fall

We’re having a beautiful fall day.  I’m surprised there are any leaves left on the trees after the storm we had last weekend.  It was a bummer for the trick or treaters as it was rainy and windy.  We had the fewest kids ever and now there is candy in my freezer.  I’ve eaten my favorites out so it doesn’t call to me.

It smells like fall outside this afternoon.  The damp and leaves and just a hint of smoke which surprises me as it’s been illegal to burn leaves for years.  Someone must have a fireplace going.

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These mums and some volunteer lobelia are all the non-green colors in the vegetable garden.  Most of the greenery is California Poppies.  It’ll probably be too cold for this bunch to bloom, but I like the fluffy leaves.

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I love these leaves even though they only have color on one side.  I suspect we’ll have some clogged storm sewers in our future.

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Some cool light and shadow stuff going on here.  This is what fall looks like in many parts of the west.

I started my “Finished List” the same day I blogged about it and I’m really getting into this idea.  It’s perfect for me as I’m a great starter and an intermittent finisher.  As in , “I started Christmas shopping,” because I ordered one thing.  Sweet Husband’s goal is to be finished by Thanksgiving.  My goal is to not buy anyone anything stupid.  The list sort of goads me into finishing something, no matter how small and that feels so good.

A week ago Wednesday I took a class from Pat Pauly.  She spoke at our guild Tuesday night, which was very entertaining.  The class was on her New Leaf pattern. I like the idea of this more than I like what I did.  I have never brought all the right fabrics to a class.   I finished the top by the weekend and while I’m not crazy about some of my fabric choices, I will quilt and bind it before starting a leaf of my very own.

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But first, I will quilt this Christmasy runner and get the pattern up on the Shopping Page.

 

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 This is the perfect time to finish last year’s projects that didn’t quite make it.  And yes, the runner was pieced last year.  A couple of weeks ago I took it out and found a mistake, fixed it and now I’m ready to quilt it.  Thankfully, I had the foresight to cut the binding and pin it to the top.  I have many regrets about not thinking to do that in the past.

If you finished last year’s projects (and I would be very impressed by that) and you haven’t gotten fabric for a new project, you’d better get on it sooner than later.  It’s such a downer to find the perfect fabric but there’s not enough on the bolt and the shop isn’t getting any more.  I really hate that.

Quilt for fun, because it would be silly not to.

Try, Try Again

Try, Try Again

It’s a beautiful, cloudless fall day, the kind that makes me think, “We don’t need any cold, wet winter.  Let’s just do this until spring.”  Okay, yes, we need winter.  But I’m going to enjoy the heck out of this while I can.  Also, sunny days make me more energetic so I need to take advantage of that.

On that note, I remade the very marginal winter cabin I put up last week to some thing I like much better.  It involved buying fabric because even though I have a big stash, it doesn’t always have what I need.

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So far it’s only been fused and I’m looking forward to adding some detail and quilting it.  The ultimate plan is to put a house block on each end of a runner and have the center be the fabric on the border of this block.  This way I won’t hide a block under the candles or flowers or whatever the centerpiece of the table might be.  It’ll probably be a week or so before this is finished as I have a couple of Halloween projects to finish.  I’ll show the block as I go along.

For those who are spider phobic, stop reading now and go to our Shopping Page.  We’d love for you to make one of our patterns and show us your work so we can show it on the Gallery Page.

So here’s the deal:  it’s fall and we have spiders.  They use my garden decor to anchor their webs and catch lots of bugs that I don’t really want in my house.  (It’s still warm enough to leave doors open for the dogs.)  The spiders are industrious little guys and there’s always the possibility of getting a neat picture of a web on a damp morning.

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This one has caught some dinner and seems to be doing a little repair work on the web.

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This big boy’s (or girl’s) web shows up a little better against the bricks.  Nothing currently caught in the web, but he doesn’t look like he waits to eat.  This concludes the bug portion of the blog.

Thank you for indulging my “Nature Moment.”

There’s still time for an Autumn themed quilt and we have some ideas for that on the Shopping Page.

If you have an idea for a quilt pattern you’d like us to create, let us know.