Getting Ready for Dia de los Muertos

Dia FSL  Skeleton

I’ve mentioned Dia de los Muertos is kinda a big thing here in Murphys California.  Well, for you non-stitchers, there’s a whole world of sewing machines that embroider and one of the things they do is embroider lace onto a water-soluble backing.  Things like lace skeletons you can make into earrings.

FSL Skeletons

Upon spying the designs at Sonia Showalter, Dia de los Muertos was the first thing I thought of. But, there’s usually some color on those items and I got stuck in the plain white you see everywhere. My first thought was adding a design (like a small rose) or bling (was still looking at them as “white”). I’d edited to put a bunch on one hooping and set the entire design to white and started stitching (the little hoops stitch first) when the thought “variegated thread” finally hit me. I did have to stay by the machine to catch and stop it to change colors since I hadn’t set that up ahead of time, and I decided white bobbin thread on the backs was fine for this application. But, overall I’m thrilled. That one with a purple head and blue body is just a screw up. That particular purple  thread was having problems and I decided it would be easier to just change out the thread color and toss it (or stitch a new head to glue on later).

FSL Angel Complete

You can also change out your whole “skeleton stitching” thing and stitch up some lace angels (also from Sonia here).

FSL Angel on Vilene

I’d received a question about stabilizers and decided to try something. So, know Sonia’s designs stitch beautifully – I push ‘how many items can you stitch in one hoop’ limits and play around with old stabilizers.

The first angel and the skeleton sheet were stitched on two layers of Vilene.

FSL Angel Stabilizer

For the second angel’s hooping, I took two scraps of Vilene and basted them over the hole made when I cut out the first (just placed them on top and let the machine baste as a first step). This one also came out perfectly.

I use Solvy a lot but know some folks have trouble with it. There are two kinds of water soluble stabilizer (WSS). A plastic-y kind like Solvy and a more fabric like one like Vilene (Pellon also makes one that I use as do others).

For the third angel I grabbed two older scraps of Solvy (they get crinkly sounding as they dry out if not kept in a plastic bag or covered) .  I was able to smooth them out – so thought “good enough”.  Not so. Below you can see that the stitching is perforating the stabilizer on the lower right – it did it in  few places – and pulling back. For dense Free Standing Lace designs (FSL), I’d recommend sticking to a fabric like water soluble stabilizer (WSS). I do successfully use “fresh” Solvy more than many stitchers and have used it on smaller Free Standing Lace (FSL) items.

FSL Stabilizer tearing

For the finished angel, you can see the blank spot by her hem, an open space by her right elbow and that the upper left of the wing isn’t formed perfectly. She still looks nice enough – once I saw the tear, I floated a piece of Vilene on the hoop and that helped – but folks who do this would spot those bits in a heartbeat. And, if I’d kept trying to use the dried out Solvy, it would have been a complete mess.

FSL not aligned

I’m an “unaffiliated” fan of for pre-wound bobbins (the Topaz uses FilTec Clear Glide Class L) and the stabilizers I can’t easily pick up locally.

For my Sundays in My City friends – I have been continuing to garden and gift veggies to my neighbors, but with our early heat wave the garden looks like hell. It’s just too sad to capture photos.   This post is participating in Sundays in My City over at Unknown Mami (and, sorry about the hairs in the shots, between me and the cats – oh well. Lucky to have the time to get the post up without re-shooting it).


sunset 24Ju13

Luscious clouds bring intermittent relief from the merciless glare of our scorching sun. They’re an unfamiliar site for inland NorCal summers. We treasure their infrequent appearance and revel in the magical hues they bestow upon sunset. Enjoy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.

Murphys Irish Day

Murphys Irish Days 1

Given it is April and my last post says “Is it March already? – I guess you can tell it’s been a busy few months! Murphys Irish Days is always happening here and this year was no different. Often the audience is more dressed up than some of those in the parade. The Girl Scouts were out with their cookies, two roller derby teams (which I’d not seen before) skated by, Ken dragged out his kilt as he does each year, my faves the Bernese Mountain dogs were all dressed up (but hard to shoot as kids love walking alongside and around that group), the army jeeps were dousing the crowd with water from their mounted “guns” and the grocery store showed up with a gigantic (and noisy) hot rod cart. Thank you as always to our diligent “pooper scooper” group that does their best given the proliferation of well fed horses in the parade! Murphys Irish Days 2 Murphys Irish Days 3 Murphys Irish Days 4 IMG_6654 Murphys Irish Days

Murphys Irish Days 9

Ken and Denise Murphys Irish Days

Murphys Irish Days 10

Murphys Irish Days 11

Murphys Irish Days 12

Murphys Irish Days 13

Murphys Irish Days 14

Murphys Irish Days 15

???????????????????????????????Murphys Irish Days 15

Murphys Irish Days 16

Murphys Irish Days 17

Murphys Irish Days 17

Murphys Irish Days 18

Murphys Irish Days 18

Murphys Irish Days 19

It was a beautiful day and we were packed to the edges of town.

Murphys Irish Days 20 

Love the taps on the sneakers for one of the dancing groups!

This post is participating in UnknownMami’s Sunday’s in my City.

Over the Mountains and through the woods…

New Melones Resevoir from Parrot's Ferry Bridge

I believe I’ve mentioned that many trips – the dentist, doctor, shopping, or meetings – require a beautiful jaunt “over the mountains and through the woods” to get to the town of Sonora. It’s becoming the area superstore mecca boasting a Lowes, Walmart, Kohls, JoAnn, Orchard, Ross, TJMaxx, Staples and more.  Murphys’ family owned stores (shop local!) provide the majority of what we need, but for things like specific HP Printer ink or one inch binder clips – a trek to Staples is called for. About 20 miles and 40 or so minutes of curvy roads and stunning scenery comprise the trip. I finally remembered to drag my camera along when bounding out to make my dentist appointment.

Parrot's Ferry Bridge from Columbia side

The Parrot’s Ferry Bridge takes me across the upper reaches of New Melones Resevoir (a~ 20 square mile manmade lake built by the U.S. Bureau of Water Reclamation with the installation of the New Melones Dam; extensive hiking paths, camping and recreational activities available).

New Melones Resevoir

Growing up on an ocean, I’d call these watermarks tide lines.

Parrots Ferry Bridge across New Melones

This shot and the opening shot were both taken from the same spot, same time – amazing how looking into clouds and the sun given a whole different feel to the day. (All shots were the same return trip, didn’t touch up the opening shot at all, added some saturation to the one above as it was a bit washed out from the sun).

 Sunset, Murphys CA

As impressive as the trip is, I’m always so happy to relax back at home with a view of sunset from the back deck. (Above shot is also “straight from the camera” – completely nature’s colors).

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.

Wet & Windy


For Sundays in My City, a short post. Storming here, with winds on the hillside as strong as I’ve ever seen it.  I’m not the industrious sort to set up an alcove or suffer getting drenched for a photograph – just snapped a few quick shots then hustled back in to my warm dry home. The news crews are having a field day running about shooting fallen trees and street flooding with full river flooding in areas of Northern California possible this afternoon. For me, the main concern is power (it has flickered a few times, not a good sign).


 Hoping Sunday sees my friends warm and dry.

Harvest Party Tour

This weekend was the Friends of the Angels Camp Library Harvest Party Tour.

Crafts at various stops included beautiful painted gourds (above by Connie Bowser), small purses made from men’s ties, cute little knit wine bottle scarves and caps, wine bottle carriers, handmade jewelry and handmade birdhouses with a portion of the crafters proceeds donated to the Friends of the Library.

My friend and I decided to start the tour with a scrumptious lunch at Greenhorn Creek Restaurant, which overlooks Greenhorn Creek Golf Course, in the – you guessed it – Greenhorn Creek Development. Mark Twain (the famous Missouri author sculpted so beautifully in the opening shot) spent just a few months in this area one winter when travelling from Nevada to San Francisco. He was enamored of a tale of a jumping frog contest and wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, a short story that has made him “cause célèbre” in these parts. He is so visible in town and tourist shops, some leave with the mistaken impression he’s a local author  – although we were just a necessary short stop before his destination of San Francisco, where, after trying his hand at other ventures, he became a writer. Of course, those familiar with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer know ol’ Samuel Clemens wrote a great deal about the area he grew up in. But, I digress.

Truly massive homes in this community surround the golf course; you feel Lilliputian going through the giant sized front doors of most. Three generous homeowners opened their stunning, harvest theme decorated homes for this tour. The tour also included Milfiori House (blogged about in August) and free wine tasting at Irish Vineyards.

I’ve mentioned I’m in one of the Gold Rush town areas in California. A beautiful old stone building at the front of the Milfiori property once housed the safe (bank) on the collection route of the Wells Fargo gold shipment. One gent was always stationed on the outside of this room with a rifle poking through this rifle port, aimed at the safe. If some unauthorized bub approached the safe, boom! Old West law keeping.

Irish Vineyards has the most spectacular Apricot wine, and I’m also a fan of their Viogner. My friend simply had to get their “Duck Tape Wine” to share with her sisters at their next get together.

Yep, that’s the label.

Although, they do have wines with more artistic labels for you label fans. Irish participates in many of the local fundraising events and is also a host for the Santa’s Express Fundraiser.

In addition to delectable wines, they have shelves of Irish themed gifts, and of course vineyard themed sweats, for sale. It was a truly enjoyable day – the only change we’d make for next year is to have a lighter lunch (but still at Greenhorn) as all stops offered wine tasting and yummy hors d’oeuvres or desserts.

The owner at the first home was a bit nervous about allowing public shots (which I TOTALLY understand), so no views of the spectacular homes, table settings, man caves, decorations and so much more. If you’re local, definitely add this tour to your calendar next year – our only problem was that we ran out of time. It was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.

This post is participating in UnknownMami’s Sundays in My City.

Mountain Heirloom Quilt Faire

The Independence Hall Quilters held their 35th Annual Mountain Heirloom Quilt Faire at Ironstone Vineyards  (above is the scholarship raffle quilt).  With many booths outdoors, our exquisite fall weather made this the perfect weekend outing.

Before I get into sharing, I’ll remind you of Robin William’s imitation of William F. Buckley Jr. while he was the genie in Aladdin – there are a few restrictions and quid pro quo’s:

Etiquette at any craft or quilt show is always to ask each vendor if it’s ok to take pictures – you’ll see some folks get visibly nervous if you’re waving a camera around their creations.

Do get inspiration from others’ work. But remember, most of these folks are small family owned shops investing their heart and soul in their designs, please don’t violate the copyright for their patterns or kits by making an exact copy.

I tend to not take shots of traditional quilts, but limit myself to those with some feature I personally want to recall.

My friend and I started with the vendor booths as she wanted to introduce me to our new neighbor, Elizabeth Schlarb of 27 Blossoms ( 

In addition to making and selling beautiful items (close ups let you see how cleanly these are made), Elizabeth also has her own fabric line. 

Everything at this show was crafted superbly. I’ve actually seen wobbly lines (meant to be straight) and loopy back tension on things for sale when I’m browsing the web. I always think whoever gets those items would be so disappointed and might never buy online again. Having many craft artist friends, this is more than disappointing. 

Maise Blue, a local yarn, book and gift store was out supporting this event with their fantastic selection.

You can also order from them online.

Bearly Quilting of Sonora was out in force. I didn’t capture kit/pattern names but you can always email them (or any vendor noted) with a link to a pic if you want to track something down.

Inuit art isn’t as common in the stitching world and this one looks to be part of a beautiful collection.

One of the most famous structures in Sonora, Ca is the Red church historic landmark built in 1859. This kit from Anita Goodesign (Country Church Tile Scene), crafted with a red church instead of the white, is an almost perfect rendition of the local landmark.

The ‘Christmas Pine Pillow’ kit fromThe Quilt House comes with those delightful little buttons – love the little cookie cutters.

Bet most of the folks reading this don’t know that in all the stitching blogs folks are now calling themselves “sewists”. I can see where creative folks are not “seamstresses”, but if I were coming up with a name I’d stick with craft artisan, which has been in use for awhile. Anyhoo, raggedy flowers are the current rage with all the sewists. I have a few machine embroidery quick stitch ones I hope to knock out in time for Christmas presents – as pins or barrettes they’re great for stocking stuffers. I do like how The Quilt House had these on quilts in a few different color schemes.

My very favorite shop, the Country Cloth Shop, was well represented, as always.  Ginger and Peggy quilt, sew kits and have a fantastic eye for pattern and color. They’re always happy to help folks match fabrics and have a great selection of classes. I’m so lucky to have this store nearby.

The Independence Hall Quilters is a phenomenal group (they meet during the day and I work, (rats).  The proceeds from the annual Quilt Faire go to The Resource Connection, including the Women’s Crisis Center and Child Protective Services, area youth with catastrophic illness or accidents, Shriners Hospital, area schools, parks, libraries and other community organizations, plus scholarships to Bret Harte High School. 

Guild members craft and donate so many items for the faire’s boutique and the “Scholarship Quilt” raffle. 

They also bake and sell beautifully presented items. I didn’t get a “long shot” to show you how many quilts and handcrafted items they had for sale. I can only say that they are one generous group.

Every year more than 160 Comfort quilts are created and donated to Calaveras County’s Child Protective Services, Shiners’ Hospitals for children undergoing treatment, surgery or therapy;  Ebbetts Pass Fire District for “Post Trauma Kits” and any local child involved in an accident or with a serious illness.

Local professional long arm quilters donate their time to finish each quilt. Anyone needing a quilt finished should contact these women -their work is simply beautiful. The five generous and talented ladies are listed here (along with more pictures).

Even after ‘selecting down’, I have too many photos for one post – so, I’ll add a gallery post with my remaining photos in a few days.

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.