What's your 'Go-To" music channel?

Wheels Turning

When I'm alone in the car, my go to music channel is usually classical or Broadway or even light opera.  Often times it's the blues or big band....even bluegrass.  I always enjoy light rock from the 70's and 80's - Rod Stewart, The Eagles, Bob Seger, Eric Clapton.... but never do I listen to hard rock and very seldom do I land on a country station for very long. 

So, as I flipped channels the other day, I hit upon some country stations  and lingered on one  playing classic country from the past century and a little bit forward.  The uniqueness of her voice held my attention..... Gillian Welch singing "Elvis Presley Blues",  written by Gillian and David Rawlings and released in 2001, goes something like this: 

"I was thinking that night about Elvis....
Day that he died, day that he died. 
I was thinking that night about Elvis...
Day that he died, day that he died."

A simple story about  a country boy who combed his hair and took to the air, wearing a shirt made by his mother.  A song about Elvis Presley  who got his musical start  pouring out his  soul in words and body moves.  In Gillian's words,

"He shook it like a chorus girl
He shook it like a Harlem queen
He shook it like a midnight rambler, baby
like you never seen.
Like you never seen." 
Gillian  sung on verse after verse, in her melodic style with partner Dave in the background.    I listened intently to every word.  It was not your ordinary song nor your ordinary songstress....not a song to dance to or be relaxed by.  It was a song that with every word, drew me in.  It was a sad song about a man in a sad life that faked it until his death that night. 
Gillian and Dave have been honored and awarded through the years and will be remembered as great song writers and musicians.


And then, I'll leave you with this thought from The Last Pharaoh.....'I don't need a chicken, a chicken in the pot or a woman in my own backyard.........." again, a Gillian Welch - Dave Rawlings classic. 
Chickens, not in the pot but
 in Shannon's back yard

Thursday, April 20

Pat Sloan workshop sampler - Trash Bag Quilts
Pat Sloan applique - improv flower petals
 sampler quilt on display at her
Trash Bag Quilts workshop
I drove over to Ruston yesterday to be a part of Pat Sloan's "Trash Bag Quilts" workshop.  This workshop is totally about making yardage out of scraps and reusing that yardage in a quilt project.  This workshop is totally about improvisational quilt-making......I loved every minute of it. 

She put me in a comfort zone when I spotted this improvisational use of fabric in one of her quilt blocks.  A stripe with a stripe!  Yikes.

Pat Sloan workshop sampler - Trash Bag Quilts

While not all of the workshop was new to me, I learned so much from Pat Sloan.    Pat is an experienced teacher and loves what she does.  Very warm and personable and the improv style of the workshop just put me on top of the world.  I learned how she makes great sashing and borders for her quilts and how she makes curves the easy way!!!!  

Pat Sloan workshop sampler - Trash Bag Quilts

Pat demonstrated how she  cuts wedges to tilt her quilt blocks to get them off-center when the quilt design calls for that little bit of an edge. 

And, don't you just love the sampler column quilt.  I do too.  Pat calls it her calendar quilt, very simply because she worked on it every calendar day for a year.  Adding a strip or a bit of applique or other embellishment every day in the year of its origin  That, of course, is dragging out the  agony of 'getting it done', but is definitely  an example of patience and tenacity. 

Oh, and a highlight of the day.....how she patched and pieced, sliced and diced to make a lot of her own striped fabric.  Oh, what fun seeing her stripes in her sample quilts. 

Pat Sloan workshop sampler - Trash Bag Quilts

I especially enjoyed how Pat made fabric for this large scale floral quilt.  She patched and pieced both the background and the flower petals.  No....it's not applique !  Each petal is curved pieced into the quilt.  Not for the improv feint of heart! 

Pat Sloan workshop sampler - Trash Bag Quilts
Improv pieced large scale floral sampler by quilter maker
 fabric designer
 author of books:
Pat Sloan

Yes, I drove over to Ruston yesterday and would do it again in a heartbeat if I knew Pat Sloan would be at the other end of the drive.  A fun day filled with sunshine. 

And while at the computer this morning, the urge to play with loose ends just hit me.  I took a picture of one of Pat's quilts to photoshop and made a frame out of it......Let the fun never end.  Be improv ~


April ~

April, I'm so glad you are here for me.  I look forward to spending the month with you.

A festival quilt ~

It's been finished for a couple of weeks!  I simply forgot to get pictures.  The Peach Festival Raffle Quilt 2018, is ready for Jan Trump,  one of my favorite long-arm quilters,  to work her magic.

Peach Festival Raffle Quilt 2018 - an improvisation design, pieced by Marty Mason

The Piney Hills Quilt Guild members in and around Ruston, Louisiana, will begin selling tickets in July or August.    It's a fund raiser for the guild to give back to the Ruston community.  We keep the very smallest percentage for ourselves - just enough to get another raffle quilt started and have a few pennies in the guild's pockets for supplies for more community service projects. 

Peach Festival Raffle Quilt 2018 -improvisational - designed and pieced by Marty Mason

A few leftover blocks went on the back along with Forever Dots in Black by fabric designer, Dianne Springer, also local to the Ruston community.  Thanks, Dianne for the black and white inspiration to get me started with this modern design. 

Peach Festival Raffle Quilt 2018 -improvisational - designed and pieced by Marty Mason
Improvisational, modern, finished quilt top......now that's a good thing ~

Putting on a happy face: lost and found

With new computer
lost in the system

or, so I thought. 

I'm laughing out loud
today at finding all those lost pictures in

right where I left

Lady in Italy beach combing with man's best friend - Marty Mason
Lady with man's best friend beach-combing in blue water on the shores in Italy - 2012

 Blue door under the hill in Natchitoches

On the Street in New Orleans - Marty Mason Photography
 I found this perfectly manicured blue building on the streets of New Orleans.  I could make this building my quilting shed! 

So, what do all these pictures have in common?  They are all about blue 'cause that's how I was feeling about having lost them .   All pulled from different folders where they were safely stored, just waiting for my next visit. 

blue bottle collection at Oak Point - photographed by Marty Mason

Boy in blue with father in blue taking a lunch break at outdoor restaurant

happy clown figurine - photographed by Marty Mason

Putting on a Happy Face

Are bow ties history?

3-dimensional bow tie quilt - Marty Mason

This bow tie quilt was almost history.....one I started at a quilting retreat several years ago after my friend Dorothy did a demonstration of the 3-dimensional bow tie.  I completed a few blocks just to reinforce the technique in my brain, then put the project aside for a year or more.  Being the A-type personality that I am, I do like to start what I finish....aka controlling the ufo's. 

When my Martelli was delivered in late October last year, I began searching for quilts to practice on that had no real value to me. 

 So, here you have it:  one of my first finishes quilted in the simple stipple design.  All quilted and washed and ready to donate to a child in need. 


3-dimensional bow tie quilt - Marty Mason

Bow ties always look so nice and neat.....I do hope they aren't something of my past that I see only in pictures. 

3-dimensional bow tie quilt - Marty Mason


Slow Stitching ~

Hand stitching is slow.  It's a time for relaxing, for thinking, for watching a long movie or listening to good music.  It's my time to let go of preconceived ideas that all quilt stitches must be small and that they must be equal in size and in distance apart or that the quilting thread must be small.   Hand stitching is personal. 

hand quilting, Jogakbo stitching and layering - slow stitching on thrift store linen  by Marty Mason

It was in a QuiltCon 2017, Heidi Parkes workshop that I learned about layering.   Just another interesting dimension - a buried  snippit of perle cotton thread between the quilt top and batting.  Quilting through the layers holds the buried  thread in place. 

hand quilting, Jogakbo stitching and layering - slow stitching on thrift store linen  by Marty Mason

This picture shows layering, big stitch quilting and the Korean Jogakbo stitch (in pink).  Yes, Jogakbo is meant to be a visible stitch.  It might take me a bit more practice to achieve sameness in each stitch. 

You can also see where the quilting threads were attached and tied off on top of the quilt.   Interesting idea I picked up on at QuiltCon 2017.  There was more than one quilt in the show that didn't have buried threads!!!  and you can bet the police were getting ready to make a few arrests. 


Improv quiltmaking and slow stitching are addictive. 

hand quilting, Jogakbo stitching and layering - slow stitching on thrift store linen  by Marty Mason

Life doesn't have to speed by.  Mine now includes some slow stitching.

softly ~

Enjoying the Spring  garden ~  The potted chives always enjoy the cool Spring temperature.

chive in the Mason's garden

The gnarled old Hackberry tree continues to amaze us each year with it spectacular greenery.  It's a delightful bright spot shaming the dullness of the neighboring pine limbs.  The Hackberry is one of those three-personality trees.  It shines in the Spring,  blends in to an almost diminishing view until Autumn, then it shines again with golden leaves until the Winter wind bares the branches.   

 Bird bath and blue flowers.  The pine tree bark reflection was a happy surprise in the bath water. 

Rocking:  From the back ~
White rocker on the carriage house porch
Enjoy your day

Positive Energy ~

Something I read this morning - "look not down and back , but up and out."  From the book Listen To Me. 

When I was a kid, my sisters and I would sit on the front step and play guessing games.  How many cars would pass before the next red one came by?  Or, how many blue cars would be in the next 15 cars that passed.  Or how many kids could we see in cars that passed?  It was a game, but it kept us looking forward to what was yet to come.

I still love the positive energy I get  from playing the guessing games.....what's around the next corner or what might tomorrow have in store for me?    What new word will  I learn today and what new quilt design is going to pop into my head?  I hope to always be eager and ready for the surprise I know is out there when I don't jump to conclusions. 

In improvisational quilt-making you absolutely cannot/do not know the conclusion until you've put in the very last stitch.  I love that surprise element in my work.  Often tiring, never boring. 

And so, I continue to splatter paint this morning.....it has no value, except to me.  I can see for miles.....the sand, the sea, the sky and sunshine. 

Spring Break-Through

Yes, I've been in a long winter hibernation and just broke through into my spring revival.  Lots of quilt-making has been going on in the studio during those cold days. 

One of my favorite finishes is this improvisational log cabin made from thrift store linen blouses and skirts and cotton jersey t-shirts.  It's heavy since I had to back the linen for stabilization, but it looks just right for a spring night on the back porch rocker. 

improv log cabin using thrift store linen - marty mason
Quilted on my Martelli:  Life can't be any better than being able to get up, bounce into the sewing studio and finish a quilt in no time. 

improv log cabin using thrift store linen....quilted on Martelli sit down - marty mason

Lots of ideas have been flowing in and out of my head.  More checkbook covers for craft fair.  A fun little something to make for  the guild's fun money fund raiser. 

fabric checkbook cover - marty mason

Oh, and more munchkin pillows made from machine felted wool scraps.  They are only 6" - 8" square (more or less) and are  just the right thing for any little munchkin. 
machine felted wool scraps made into small pillows - marty mason

machine felted wool scraps made into small pillows - marty mason

machine felted wool scraps made into small pillows - marty mason

When there's just one more minute in the day, I love making simple note cards.  This was a coneflower from my garden last year.....manipulated in photoshop and printed on card stock.

note card ~ original to marty mason

It goes without saying that while in Savannah,  there was a whole lot of fabric purchases made.

loved the Victoria Findley Wolfe booth in Savannah Quilt Con East

And best yet, a free half-yard fabric bundle of Art Gallery Fabric.....5 free yards.  What a deal !

I've been doing lots of planning and preparing for a 2018 workshop.  I think I'll call it "Improvisational to the Nines."  You see, we'll be starting out with a nine-patch.  The workshop will probably be filled with very traditional quilters and I want to draw them into my love of improv.  I'm hoping this very simple, very easy-to-make traditional block will get their traditional attention.  My first thought was to have each participant have a completed drunkard's path or churn dash block on workshop day and bring along with large scraps from their scrap pile.  Then I decided for ease of easing into improv, we best start out with a nine-patch.  I'm excited. 

9-patch with improvisational use of fabric placement - marty mason

Improvisational use of fabric in  a simple 12" 9-patch is all this one took to get this quilt started. 

See how easy improv quilt making is!  A 9-patch surrounded by borders finished at 40" x 46" for an
"Improv to the Nines" workshop sampler.   
improv 9-patch in progress in preparation for workshop - Marty Mason

TaTa for now..... I'm off to enjoy a beautiful day filled with sunshine.  May your day also be filled with hugs and sunshine and all things that warm your heart.