About Me

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Great Falls, Montana, United States
I love creating art. I love the Creator! And through that love, I find a little slice of heaven on earth and I give Him all the glory! It's a great adventure and I'm excited to see what's around the bend! Come join me, won't you?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Taking TIME

We are back from a long Memorial Day weekend!  While enjoyable, it just feels SO GOOD to be home again, and home for the entire week! YAY!  I have several projects to share with you as  I 'regroup' and enjoy my 'staycation' as I call it!  Cooking, sewing! Perhaps some gardening if... it... ever... stops... raining, and warms up to 70 degrees!  Yikes! 
Below is a 'snapshot' if you will, of some helpful advice, in part by a quilter, Laura Cater Woods. I've added my own 'testimony' to it, as well. The pictures are mine, the advice is timeless. And I teach and say these very things. 

When I teach, I sometimes hear students remark, who look at my free motion quilting, and say I must have an ever-abundant, natural talent for art, that just spills out of me like a waterfall in the spring!  Don't get me wrong, I believe God has filled me up with this blessing.   I have always felt it as a youngster... but I know, even more importantly, (perhaps even more so as an adult!) that creativity is something I think about, study, WORK and PLAY at!  Daily!  And I'm often heard telling my students that very thing!  Repeatedly!  

Dahlia bloom --- from the first plant of the season... yet to be planted! 
What advice do you have for artists who are seeking their unique voice or direction in their own artwork?
Do the work. Do a lot of work. Look at art, listen to music, see live performances in areas outside your particular focus. Read. Do more work.(Laura Cater Woods).

Detail from mixed media paper quilt
Go make something. 
From our Montana Roadtrip Summer 2010 on the back roads to White Sulpher Springs
 See something.
"Going to the Sun" Road in Glacier National Park, Montana
Do enough work to make a lot of mistakes. I like that particular sentence... ALOT!  You gain nothing if you risk nothing.  So, take a Risk. Approach it as Play. Sit quietly for a few minutes every day and just watch the light change. 
Mountain flowers. Rocks. Rusty color. What a great combination... and inspiration!
Pay attention. Take in the details.  Stop!  Be quiet. Absorb.
Ft. Benton, Montana on the banks of the Missouri River
 Just do the work.  Do it when you are inspired, and especially when you are not.  Something will bubble up.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Her art is joyful ... happy ... colorful... textural.
Charming Jewelry pieces... one of her many creative expressions...
Katie happens to also be a wonderful teacher, an incredible supporter and friend to so many folks.  She  is a dedicated organizer, promoting and bringing amazing art to a remote rural area of Montana, my hometown in Chester, MT, located 40 miles south of the Canadian border, smack dab in the middle of the prairie, like much of Northern Montana! Population?  1000... maybe!

What a blessing and a cool drink of water Katie is!  If you're ever driving east or west on Highway #2, in Chester, MT, please stop in and check out the Liberty Village Arts Center. It was a beautiful old Catholic Church that has been re-purposed for art.

I NEVER get tired of looking at the coolest details of Katie's note cards.  I have used her artsy cards in my art quilts!  See "Live With Intention" here.(I did have her permission, FYI!)

Ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree; lovely layered & textural designs.  I have mine hanging year-round from my dining room chandelier so I can look at it daily. 

Terrificly creative flower pins!  I LOVE wearing this one, and have given several as gifts.
Mobiles, mobiles, mobiles!  They're so charming! So playful! And so... FUN! Why stop at just one?  (Well, I have to!) LOL. Perhaps you won't need to?! They also make lovely gifts.
I adore the mobile Katie gave me, which is hanging in my sewing studio.  I could probably have one in every room!  Who doesn't want one to just cheerfully 'shoot the breeze!'
A dancing mobile makes me happy just to look at it.

Oh, and how about a checkbook cover! This was a gift from my Mom, and I love all the textures.

Can't have enough pins! You probably know by now, (if you've checked out my blog) how I adore pins! 
Did I mention JOYOUS!  Yes, she is!  She encourages me.  Yup, I'm a HUGE fan.  I should be.  She was my high school Art teacher in 1976! Aren't we ALL so lucky to have had exposure to such great teachers in our life?  
Teachers have a powerful ministry to us all.

  And, all of us have one, teacher or not. 
Ask God to show you yours!
Katie has been, and continues to be a wonderful mentor. Her sweet enthusiasm is contagious. Amazingly, I was so fortunate to connect with her quite unexpectedly at my neighbor's backyard barbeque several summers ago!  She just happened to be best college friends with my neighbor's daughter! So, 30 years or so later I am blessed to call her friend, 
and to thank her for being a fabulous teacher.

 Thank you "Mrs. Twedt!"  I love you.  You are a beautiful gift, and we thank God that you share so willingly, giving of all your God-given talents with so many others.  
We are thankful!  XXOO

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My first Patchwork Jacket

I purchased my very own 'first-ever' sewing machine in in 1998; it was a little bottom-of-the line Bernette. I wanted  to make Christmas stockings for my boys, and patch their jeans... maybe do a little bit of other clothing construction.  Frankly, I was not impressed with it!  So within a year, I traded it in for a little Activa model.  I still think the  Bernina Activa line is wonderful, especially for beginners.  It was definitely a catalyst for my wanting to know more.  Now, 13 years or so later, I am fortunate to enjoy a model with many advanced features, but I still have and use that machine still!  And who knows ... maybe someone in my family will want to sew on it ... someday.
 The jacket pictured above is one of the first projects I made on that little Activa machine. I learned SO VERY MUCH about my machine doing it, and I have this jacket as a fun example of that time in my creative sewing life.  It's fun to look back on it and ... smile!  Smile at all the goofy things I tried... the awkward stitches, the tension issues, couching, and just plain experimentation. Why not?  What better way to look back and see how much I've learned.  I hope you too, have something you treasure!  And are still enjoying the learning process.  Loving to learn and learning to ... LOVE!

My initial intent was to fill up all the little squares on this jacket with something different. I thought of as many (nice) four-five letter words as I could, and I quilted them!
When I tired of that, I went to the zig zag stitch (pictured above).  I needed to do 'something' over these little random fusings I put on this jacket.  I call this zig zag technique "The Lightning Bolt" ... does it look like it to you?  And it's done free motion. Left to right, your stitches are straight... top to bottom they are zig zags, and angled in any other direction you decide to go!
ART! I love art! I love beading.  I love fabric.  I love threads!
This is where I used my little "thread nests!"  I think I may have first seen this idea in a Sulky book from many, many years ago. If you look at the first picture of the entire jacket, you may be able to see where I applied them on the front of the jacket, on each side.
The bold and the beautiful!  Some of my first awkward attempts at couching, bobbin play... and applying metallic threads using zig zag stitches... I tried everything and anything on this jacket just so I could play with my new machine.   
Perhaps you can see from the fabric, how worn the batik squares are?  I have worn it often... and it's been hauled to many teaching classes as part of my trunk show.
I often comment to my students... "can you tell I'm a girl raised in the 70's?"   YUP.... that's ME! "LOVE and Peace Baby!"

Just take a look at that stitch tension!  That was the catalyst of when I started to dig in... to learn more, and find out why and how it could look better than that. But I also didn't let it STOP me from keepin' ... keepin' on!  To PERSEVERE - but to march forward and figure it out.  Have a little tenacity, persevere, ask questions.  Just keep on learning!
Beading Detail from front of jacket
Close up detail from front of jacket - Thread Nests and Beading by Machine

I treasure this first 'out of the box' piece for me!  It's a treasure-trove of beginnings, stepping stones, and finding out what you love...    

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What is a Bernina "Coded" Foot?

When teaching, I find alot of students don't know what a "coded foot" is out there in Bernina-Land! Here are a few facts I hope you will find helpful and informative, so you WILL know the difference the next time you contemplate buying a foot... coded, or not! 

Pictured below are three 'varieties' of the exact same foot, which happens to be the ever-popular (Bernina) #20 foot, or open-toe foot. Most commonly used in  applique formats and many times the favorite choice foot for decorative stitching such as the blanket stitch.  This foot provides excellent visibility for exact placement of your stitches. 

The two on the right are the "coded" feet, or "C" feet, and they are labeled as such on the package. Coded feet have "magnifier-type" pieces (I call them frog eyes!) at the top of the shank of the foot.  And ... "C" feet are more expensive; approximately $10 or so more, depending on the foot involved or machine model.

The foot at far left is an 'uncoded' foot typically used for 5 mm machines, which would be the Bernina machines 440 models and below.

The foot in the middle is a #20C foot for a 9mm machine.  (See the frog eyes at the top of the shank?)  C stands for 'code' for the computer in the sewing machine, which 'tells' the sewing machine to stitch out at various wider widths - up to 9mm.

The foot in the far right is like a combo C/D foot.  It's labeled as the #20D foot, but it is also a C (coded) foot as well --- see the frog eyes?! "D" means 'dual feed" and this is a feature that is available only in the new 800 series models (Bernina 820 and 830).  It too, could be used on any type of machine, even the 5mm machines.  However, notice the 'horseshoe' type of metal shank -- this D foot has twice the metal of a normal shank.  And is specifically engineered for the Bernina Dual Feed and it helps the foot function as a walking foot.  It would be a waste of money to buy a "D" foot if you don't have the fancy machine, (as they are at least $15-$20 more than a 'regular' foot).

So what to buy, when? If you, in the future, are wanting to buy feet for a a Bernina, consider the type of machine you have (5mm vs 9mm).  Keep in mind that all coded and non-coded feet fit all of the Bernina machines 12 years or newer.  The two feet pictured below are an example of why it may be worth it to buy a foot in the coded and uncoded versions! They look the same from the top, but the bottoms of each foot are different --- and they are meant to do different (as well as the same) techniques!  They are the braiding and piping/tricot foot #12 and #21. Note: The #12 on the left is mismarked.  It wore off a few years ago, and I mistakenly wrote #12 on it!  It's really a #21)
Quilt:  "Hold On To Your Dreams"

Look at the picture below to see the differences in the bottom of the two feet and consider the following as reasons why you might consider buying both types:
1.  A coded foot has a much wider foot base.
2.  A coded foot can be used on a 5mm machine OR a 9mm machine! Did you know the same is also true of an uncoded foot? However, bear in mind that if you attach an uncoded foot to your 9mm machine, your stitch width is limited to 5mm. 
3.  An uncoded foot will also work on any machine... and the reverse is also true.  If you have a 9mm machine, you may consider/want to get a 5mm foot because of it's specific capabilities and size dimensions.
4.  If you think you MAY upgrade to a 9mm machine, you should consider spending a little more now (rather than alot more later)... on a coded foot. 
Same foot on the top... but the left foot's bottom accommodates larger cords in the "C" or coded foot
Why should you buy a coded foot (9mm) if you don't own a 9mm machine? Because the foot base has a bit more stability on the fabric, might have more visibility for you, and covers more fabric/area depending on the type of foot, and application you are using.  Some cordings are quite a bit larger than what the 5 mm foot will accommodate. Therefore, the coded foot works much nicer for attaching very large cords, piping, & etc, for embellishment and home decorating techniques. 

If you'd like to know more, check out Bernina's "Feetures" Books.  They will TELL ALL about every foot Bernina makes.  And I do mean, ALL! They are a wonderful resource.  Your Bernina dealer should have them in stock.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Apple BLOSSOMS are here!!!

The apple trees in our front yard are giving us quite the show this cool, rainy spring!  
I'm very excited about my pictures.  I popped outside into the front yard --- frequently---sometimes even in the rain and if it was early morning, in my robe! Yes...I'm sure I am cheap entertainment for my neighbors! 
 and then when the clouds parted for maybe... 6 seconds... out I went again! Love the bright green!
and how I love the LIGHT... I was rewarded richly...
... those beautiful, soft-as-a-baby's-behind blossoms in dreamy pinks and creamy ivory nestled among the gorgeous green!  AWESOME!
Amazing, how after just a few minutes of sun... the blossoms are opening.  This was taken later in a brief interlude (more than 6 seconds) of Mr. Sunshine on Sunday afternoon.

Those were among the many gifts I received this weekend from our wonderful Creator God!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


My bestest dogfriend ever. She's now 11 years old. 
"MICAH-DOG!" -- our Shetland Sheepdog Extraordinaire:  She's never seen a 'real' sheep... but she sure would like to!  Instead, she makes the most of what she has available... me!  She can't wait for our morning routine.  Once I grab my bag and coat, it's "GAME ON!" Her nose is pushing at the door the second my hand is on the knob. Then the real fun begins as
she 'herds' me to the garage!   

She's an alert and super smart little dog. Here she is appreciating the cool of the lake, just  relaxing.  I thought it was a perfect pose, of which she is usually quite cooperative!

Brian and I made a trip to Yellowstone Park three years ago after we were married.  She came along on the honeymoon. 

And she loves to come to the lake with me too... after all, it' IS a Girls' Weekend!"

Just appreciating the sunset 
on Flathead Lake with us girls! 
But really... she just doesn't want to be very far away from me.  What  a wonderful, loving and adoring friend she has been.  Just like God would like us to be with Him.  A great example of how 
we can trust Him completely, 
know him intimately, 
look up to Him in everything, 
and forgive instantly!  
There is no one who loves us as much as He does... 
And we love Him, because He first loved us. 

Thank you Father, for giving me such a wonderful pet,  an enduring companion with such a gentle nature, who's unconditional love reminds me of your love for me. Thank you for giving us your son, so we can know forgiveness everlasting, and give forgiveness to others.  Amen.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The JOY of Learning MT Gold

In this post, I want to share some of the process of creating this piece, the challenges, the problem solving, and 'perfection' issues I think we all struggle with!  The above picture is from the backside of Montana Gold.
Out came the ripper. You should still be able to see the tension issue even though I have begun picking out stitches.  Valuable lesson #1:  ALWAYS check your bobbin tension after 30 seconds into your free motion quilting motifs.  Just to be sure!  Because more than 30 seconds... and you could have alot of stitches to pick out! And what was wrong with my tension?  ME!  It was me 'pulling' the stitches.  Sometimes I do that, much like how you might change the size of crocheting or knitting stitches if you're too tense, or too relaxed? Same principle here. It's just like that some days with free quilting.  (So, settle down... relax, pay attention, & have fun!)  I ripped these out because not only were they unsightly, but the tight tension on the back was affecting the top of the quilt.  I wanted this quilt to be reversible, and that meant my stitches needed to look good on the back, too. 

At this stage of my quilting 'life' I feel like my quilting should look good on both sides.  (Especially when it's for sale) But that has been a learning process! And with each project I complete, I improve upon one more little thing (or big thing!)  And, even more importantly, as I continue to build upon my skills, I also continue to understand the 'how to's' of problem solving!  

I used Masterpiece 50 wt cotton for my bobbin.  It performs flawlessly in my  free motion, with a 40 wt cotton or trilobal polyester on top.
 And Superior Threads, 40 weight triblobal polyester was my chosen top thread from the "Art Studio" line by Ricky Tims.  

As to the yarn I chose for those free motion feathers.  Sometimes the yarn 'skipped' --- it didn't always 'fill up the hole' of the foot, but I loved the color so much, I just decided to deal with it.  And if the skipping was an issue, or noticeable, I went back and 'patched' it by stitching over the yarn again, with my regular free motion foot.  No harm... no foul!
Notice the slight skipping on the far right on this bottom feather motif?  Sometimes it happened... I just dealt with it!

 My stitches are not perfect; they ARE excellent, tho.  and I have started to realize something I don't like so much... I couldn't always see very good... So!
Valuable lesson #2:  When you can't see... get new glasses!  Get better lighting... get a different angle of fabric under the machine... get the magnifier lens set adaptable for your machine!  Yes, I am at that age!
Valuable Lesson #3:  Not every inch of the fabric has to be 'evenly filled up" -- I used to think (and do that) for many years... but it's more interesting (at least it is to me), to have varying stitches, and 'poofs' of fabric... which appeal to me greatly --- more so, they appeal to my sense of creativity.
Valuable Lesson #4: "Stuff" happens!  Learn to live with it.  Move On! Do NOT let it rob you of your joy! I didn't notice this little 'nudgey' in the blue yarn (I held the couching foot a bit too long - as I couldn't see where I was at for a moment!)... but it's okay.  I could have ripped it out... and might have, had I noticed it in time.  Ripping it out after the fact would have made it much more noticeable as I probably wouldn't have been able to repeat the curve quite so smooth with alot of fiddley-diddley-dee. (That's an official term, you know!)  


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