Steamy Weather

Yesterday morning, the outdoor temperature here was minus-25 Fahrenheit. For those of you of a Celsius persuasion, that’s almost minus-32.

IMG_1587 (1)

Pictorial evidence


That’s the cold of insta-frostbite. That’s the cold of “keep your pets in, no matter how much they agitate to go out.”

That’s the cold of “three cat nights” in bed, hot chocolate with boozy eggnog added in, and letting the mail pile up in the box because how important could it be anyway?

And it’s the cold of one of my favorite weather phenomena.

Our Lake Champlain water temperature is 36 degrees right now (about 2 Celsius). The bays are frozen solid enough for ice fishers to be out in their tents.

But steam is rising off the broad lake. Big billows of steam . . .


Hand Quilt Along: It’s Basted!


Have you ever wanted something real bad and then, when you get it, all you can do is sit and grin at it?

I’ve been grinning at my basted quilt for a week now!

And every once in awhile, I feel that grinning doesn’t quite capture my joy so I break out in a little song and dance, “It’s done! It’s done!”

Of course, the quilt itself is far from done but the basting is finished and, for now, that’s all I need to know.

The day came when I had to tackle this job. I felt some pressure, both because I couldn’t face coming back to you and admitting I hadn’t done it yet again and because the only table I can use for basting is on our glassed-in, unheated porch . . . and frigid temperatures were coming.

So, on a day when the high was going to be in the upper-40s, balmy for December in upstate New York, I shifted myself into gear.

I fired up the space heater and aimed it at the big table.

I reviewed the YouTube video by Sharon Schamber, my quilt basting hero, to be sure I remembered her technique.

I got my wood boards and my big needle and my thread, thimble, and finger cot.

I closed the door so the cats couldn’t come help.

I tuned Pandora, on my iPhone, to my favorite Chad Mitchell Trio station. I hummed along to good old folk music and sea shanties and I stitched together the three layers of my quilt.

The actual stitching, once I was set up, took just about 2 hours, including folding over the edges and basting down a sort of loose hem, to keep the edges from fraying and coming undone.

I have raved about this Schamber approach to basting in previous posts and, really, I love it. I have used it on several full-sized quilts now and I can say it really, really makes a tedious job so much less onerous.

Is basting fun? No. Nay. Never.

But with this method, of wrapping the layers of the quilt top and backing around long pieces of wood (I used 1 inch x 4 inch pieces that are longer than my quilt was wide), it is possible to manage a lot of floppy fabric and wrestle it onto a tidy, secure bundle without crawling on the floor or opening and closing dozens of safety pins.

What was three unwieldy separate pieces of textile—the pieced top, the fabric backing, and the batting—is now a unit. The three layers are firmly held together and will not shift and cause problems down the road.

When I was done, I folded the tidy bundle up and it has been sitting ever since, waiting for the busyness of Christmas to pass before I begin the hand quilting.


This will be my post-Christmas treat—quiet hours, sitting at my hoop, putting in the prim little stitches. The cold, blue light of winter will stream through the glass door next to my chair but I’ll be warmed by the quilt over my lap and the lovely, familiar, soothing process of quilting by hand.

This is my third installment in this Hand Quilt Along. If you are bereft to have missed the first two, you can go back and visit post one and post two.

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.
Kathy, Lori, Margaret, Kerry, Emma, Tracy, Deb, Connie, Deborah,  Susan, Jessisca,  SherryNanette, Sassy and Edith