Category Archives: Everything Else

Family Treasures

While I’m on vacation I’m republishing old posts. This one ties to my posts about my unknown family quilt series.

Some families pass along Confederate swords to younger generations. My family passes on sewing notions. My grandmother, mother, and aunts all sewed; and I’ve ended up with much of their sewing stuff because I’m the one in my generation who sews. Much of it is useless and good only for the landfill, such as 60 year old elastic. Some is sentimental, and some is still useful.

What’s left are buttons, Singer sewing machine attachments (and one Singer machine,) hooks and eyes, awls, tracing wheels and paper, wooden thread spools, and my grandmother’s thimble. The strangest legacy is a very heavy button covering machine produced by the Defiance Manufacturing Co. I don’t know what happened to the patterns and zippers my fore mothers used, but none survive.

Here are just some of the goodies.

I always wanted an awl, and now I have one. There are more buttons than those shown. Maybe a few have some value, but most seem to date back no farther than the 1950s. I now have plenty of snaps and hooks and eyes, plus plastic rings.

The Singer machine accessories include a gatherer, lots of feet, buttonhole and zigzag stitch attachments, and some unknown gizmos. I’ll look into the used accessory market to see if these have any value.

The instructions and order form for the button covering machine, which was purchased in 1951 by my grandmother, were preserved, along with business correspondence between her and the company. The manually operated machine is heavy, and I think some parts are missing. My cousin was thrilled to offload that.

I had my mother’s Singer machine already. It’s billed as portable, but weighs about 25 pounds. I learned to sew on it, but haven’t used it in decades. If anyone is interested in a Singer 99-13, made in 1930, let me know.

My favorite item is my grandmother’s thimble, of course. My aunt had a jump ring put on it so she could wear it on a chain. It’s now part of my jewelry collection, and you never know when you might need a thimble in one’s daily rounds.


Filed under Everything Else


Tucked away in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, east of Pittsburgh, is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces. Fallingwater was built for the Kaufman family in the 1930s as their summer retreat. Its setting is fantastical – partly suspended over a waterfall – and totally impractical. It is a triumph of vision over reality.

For my birthday this year my husband arranged a trip there. We drove by such tourist attractions as Jellystone Park (Yogi Bear’s home) to reach the long drive up to the visitors center. Timed small group tours take you through the main house and guest house. The house has 9,300 square feet, which seems large, but 4,400 of those feet are outdoor terraces. In fact, the interiors are expansive, but not much larger than one of today’s suburban homes. The common areas flow into each other, but bedrooms and studies provide privacy. This computer graphics video will give you an idea of how the house fits into its site.

An incredible amount of labor and reinforced concrete went into construction, and some of the techniques Wright used were untested. The visitors center has a fascinating display on the building process. As was usual with Wright projects, the original construction cost estimate of $35,000 ballooned to $148,000. Our guide told us that the annual maintenance costs alone now come to about $4 million. Wright’s beloved flat roofs create a lot of problems, as do the stucco exteriors.

Still, it was wonderful to immerse myself in the home. Videos cannot prepare you for the effect of Wright’s cramped staircases exploding into light infused expansive rooms. Since Wright was a control freak who decreed every detail, excluding the dining room chairs (the Kaufmans won that battle,) you get a chance to see his artistic vision realized. I have been in contemporary design homes with flounced curtains, so I have some sympathy for his dictatorial ways. Another Wright trick was to have almost all the furniture built in so the owner couldn’t rearrange it.

One of the spacious terraces. This one is off a bedroom. Check out the window corner where glass meets glass.

Floating outside stairs. You could definitely base a quilt on the massed shapes.

Sitting area with walls of windows, stone floor. This area is filled with the sound of the waterfall.

Built in desk

I don’t know how livable the house is, but I’d be willing to try it out. The only part I really have doubts about is the open steps off the living area terrace that go down to the stream. It’s one of many features that aren’t ADA compliant. And one more defect – very limited closet space would require severe pruning of personal stuff.

The steps are blocked off for tours.

I am linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Everything Else

Small But Powerful

Now that a few quilts have sold I’m adding some new items to my for sale page, with a focus on smaller works that may be just what’s needed for limited wall space. I think the new pieces are more abstract than others in the shop.

“Fault Lines” 21 inches wide by 10.5 inches high

“Plane Geometry” 16 inches wide
by 12 inches high

Both of the above small pieces are fused and machine stitched applique, mounted on a solid background, using a Lisa Walton technique.

“Still Standing” 14 inches wide by 17.5 inches high

Of course, other smaller pieces are also available.

“Fraternal Twins” each 15.5 inches square

“Winter’s Closing In” 14 inches wide by 17 inches high

Check out the For Sale Page for more details. I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Everything Else

Catching Up

Since I am busy today with a Zoom workshop about map quilts from Valerie Goodwin I will give a few updates rather than present any new work. I hope to report on the workshop once it’s done and I’ve had time to process it.

First, all but one of my free quilts found new homes. I am so happy they have a chance of seeing someplace other than my closet. An unexpected but delightful side effect of that giveaway was the many tokens I received in return, ranging from cards to maple butter. Thank you all.

Second, the quilt below is now called “Fractured.” I was amazed at the quantity and creativity of your suggestions, often with well thought out reasons for the name. Once I narrowed my choices to four, I consulted my in-house expert, and he felt “Fractured” best conveyed the sense of the work.


Third, my quilt “Calliope” won a blue ribbon in its category at the Lake Farmpark quilt show. I think I mentioned that before, but here we are together.

I think my outfit coordinates nicely with “Calliope”

Fourth, for those of you who live in/near Akron, I want to let you know of a massive audio visual materials sale on May 20, 10-6, and 21, 10-5, at the main library on South High Street in downtown Akron. Low, low prices, with CDs 10 for $1. The sale includes CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, sheet music, audio books, and even 16 mm films. Proceeds will go to the Friends of the Main Library. One hour free parking on Friday, and all day free parking on Saturday. I mention this because I volunteer as a donations sorter, and I really want to get more room in the sorting area.

Fifth, I’m rearranging my studio, and have bought a few rolling carts, which I’m in love with. More on all that later.


Filed under Everything Else

Getting Warmer

Just after Christmas my husband and I headed south to Fort Myers, Florida, for a stay at my brother in law’s condo. After enduring lots of traffic bottlenecks (no, not that one in Virginia thank goodness) we arrived to temperatures in the mid 70s and mostly sun.

I brought a few projects with me, including my long running felted wool embroidery, but I’m spending more time walking in SHORT SLEEVES and totally ignoring any inclination to find a fabric store.

Four of the circles I’ve begun embroidering.

So, the beach

Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs

The Ringling Museum in Sarasota (go here for links to the collection)

Museum courtyard
View of Sarasota Bay from the 8,000 square foot terrace of Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling’s palatial home

One advantage Florida has is year round locally grown vegetables. We went to Southern Fresh Farm for hydroponically grown tomatoes and lettuce. While there we sampled beers from the Crazy Dingo, conveniently located next door. I had to get a photo of this visual pun.

Because we drove I was able to pack my portable sewing machine and a bag of scrap strips, including already sewn together strips. After lots of mindless sewing I’ve composed four large log cabin blocks in yellow, blue, gold/brown, and red/orange. I have a vague idea of combining them into one, but that will wait until I’m back home.

The strip rows are sewn but are not joined together yet. The center is an orphan block.
One joy of working with scraps is remembering when I first used the fabrics. The middle of this one is cotton stamped with bleach and then stitched.

Most likely we are driving back to chilly Ohio as you read this. Next week I’ll tell you about another art museum I visited, and anything else we’ve done besides stuffing our faces with Gulf shrimp.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday. This week I learned that tangents are shapes that touch or connect in a way that is visually bothersome.


Filed under Commentary, Everything Else

Vintage Singer 99-13 Sewing Machine On Offer

Update: My machine has found a new home where she’ll be given TLC.

It’s hard to part with old friends, and this is the machine I learned to sew on, but the time has come to find it a new home. It, or rather she, is a 99-13 portable sewing machine, one of 10,000 made in 1930 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, AD093993, Motor #48-7053, Catalog B.U. 7-E.

She sews forward straight stitch only, and is operated with a knee control. She comes with a complete buttonhole attachment kit, a cord, and assorted other feet and attachmentts that may belong to it or another vintage Singer that belonged to my granny. The 99-13 is considered a portable 3/4 size machine and comes in a bentwood case, though it weighs in the neighborhood of 20 pounds. I had it serviced some years ago, and it still runs and the light works as of two weeks ago. Here’s a post that further describes this machine.

If you are willing to pick it up in Akron, Ohio, it can be yours for $20, with all accessories included. Prices online are all over the map, but I know this model isn’t as desirable as a featherweight. Sorry, but I think shipping costs would be too much to make that option worth anyone’s while.

You can contact me at if you’re interested or have questions.

99-13 front
99-13 case
Buttonhole attachment
Instruction manual for buttonholer #160506
Feet, bobbins, and attachments

Feel free to pass this offer along to anyone you know who might be interested. It might be just the thing for a Singer enthusiast. Thanks.


Filed under Everything Else

My Spoonflower Addiction

As digital fabric printing becomes more prevalent, fabric users have even more choices for printing their own without resorting to the vagaries of their home printers. The latest SAQA Journal has a good comparison by the Pixeladies of fabric printing services. In the future I may try some of the services reviewed, but for now I’m sticking with Spoonflower as I know their interface and have been satisfied with their work. And it doesn’t hurt that they’ve been running 20% off sales.

I’ve turned to photos printed on fabric as a way to continue creating now that intense piecing is literally painful for me. I aspire to create work like the one below, but I’ve a ways to go.

“Union Station” Jill Kerttula

Jill Kerttula uses fabric printed photographs as a starting point for her work. Her blog entry about “6 of Chaos”shows her process. You can see more of her work on her website.

From my latest fabric order I created “Corrugated,” which uses four fat quarters of Photoshop edited versions of a photo my friend Penny took. I’ve inset narrow strips of varying widths to spice up the palette.

“Corrugated” detail

I don’t know if I’ll add more embellishment or quilt it as is. Any opinions are welcome.

Inspiration for how to deal with another fabric from the same order has been slow in coming. This is another photo from Penny that I played with in Photoshop. I want to emphasize the gritty textures, and may add some of the fabric I painted for my Tansy Hargan class.

Just in case you wondered, I’ve never had any flower photos printed for me, though I’ve used photos of trees.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Everything Else, Fabric Printing, In Process

And The Winners Are…

The Random Raffle Generator selected the following entrants to receive my pieces:

  1. Arch – Chris Wheeler
  2. Art – Kay Welch
  3. Eyes – Karen M
  4. Ferny – MaryJo K
  5. Geese – No one
  6. Opening Up – Jane Herbst
  7. Openings – Doris Miller
  8. Silk – Penny Bruce
  9. Spring – Doreen Kuster

Congratulations! Please email me (snarkyquilter[at] with your mailing address within 7 days so I can ship you your prize. If I don’t hear back from you I will select another winner.

If you live within easy reach of Akron, Ohio, I’d appreciate it if we can arrange a porch or doorstep handoff rather than rely on USPS. Let me know if this works for you.

It took me a while to warm up to podcasts, but now I listen as I sew/paint/collage/print. Here’s one devoted to quilting from the Quilt Alliance. I also love Jill Lepore’s The Last Archive, which has nothing to do with quilting.

Finally, because every post needs a picture, here are four of my latest hand stitched, needle felted wool circles. So far I’ve done 17 of 25.


Filed under Completed Projects, Everything Else

Covid Cutups

A very slender silver lining in the current pandemic is the ability of humans to find humor in an awful situation. Give people extra time on their hands and orders to self isolate and they get creative.

With so many art museums making their collections available for online viewing, it’s inevitable that people, cooped up in houses or apartments, will revive the old pastime of tableau vivant. The Getty Museum spurred some of these efforts with its challenge to recreate art in its collection with three household items.

The Astronomer, 1668, Johannes Vermeer. Oil on canvas, 19.6 in. x 17.7 in. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Image: Wikimedia Commons. Recreation on Twitter and via Facebook DM by Ann Zumhagen-Krause and her husband with tray table, blanket, and globe

On Instagram @covidclassics four roommates are recreating famous paintings with much ingenuity. For each post they show their version, the original painting, and a behind the scenes look at how they did it.

Then, why not adapt famous art works to be more relatable to your pets? Two self-isolating Londoners created a museum especially for their pet gerbils. Unfortunately, the gerbils take chewing the scenery literally. As is often the case, these museum goers have ignored the signs.

If you’ve come across other examples of humor to help us cope with our times, please send me the links. To quote Jimmy Buffet, “If we couldn’t laugh we’d all go insane.”


Filed under Everything Else

Artistic Endeavors – Enlightenment and Entertainment

Photo Sources

From Gratisgraphy

New York Quilt Project Being Digitized

Influence of Women Artists

Ruth Asawa

Songs and Geography

Song Map of Texas

Free Art Books Published by the Getty 

The Getty Center

Artistic Maps

Susan Stockwell Colonial Dress

Japanese Book of Wave Patterns

If A City Looked Like An Artist


Filed under Everything Else