Thursday, July 2, 2020

What I did Last Summer - Part One: Dog Days

Since first blogging in 2012, the number of posts has varied and the years tick away.   Weekly, monthly and more recently quarterly with the exception of Modern With a Twist.  I thought I'd write a "better late than never" and highlight the summer - the summer of 2019 that is.

One of the reasons that I started blogging was to archive memories and life changes to have a place to revisit where I can get all nostalgic or just reflect on how life changes.

This post was started and saved as a draft many, many months ago.  The Covid 19 pandemic isn't something I necessarily want to look back on but it is undoubtably life changing.  For me, Quarantine time is similar to Quilting time, a sense of similtanious standing still and flying by.  It has been and continues to be a strange, unprecedented experience.   It's ominous jumping back in to recap but I want to catch up so that I can move on, so I'm going to try.

Dog Days

July 2019 we brought home not one but two puppies as part of the NorCal GSP Foster to Adopt program.  We had owned two German Shorthair Pointers before and although we originally sought out to adopt one this time, we agreed to take on a brother and sister pair,

Let me introduce you to Rudy, my lap dog.   Yes, that's right, dog not dogs.  The NorCal GSP Foster program has a great support system providing sessions with trainers and even a dog walker when needed.   But it was almost immediately apparent that we could not handle both. It was also the recommendation of a professional that they would reach their own individual potential best if they were separated and fortunately a loving home was found for her.

With any rescue, there is an element of the unknown.  What have they been through in their young lives and why did they end up in a shelter?  We drove a few hours away to pick them up and I took this sorta-selfie of them snuggled their scuffed faces together on my lap in the car.  

It's funny how the early photos give the illusion that they are calm and easy.  That's only because most of the time they were a complete blur for the camera, constantly on the move.  

November 2019 Portrait by Melissa Averinos
If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen this beautiful portrait (above) by Melissa Averinos, @weirdcatsofinstagram.  I was the lucky winner of her giveaway and couldn't be more pleased.  We love the one that we had commissioned of our beloved Dottie and Chase (below) that hangs in our kitchen.  

The picture below was taken during one of the first outings hubby took him on while I was at Sew Day near by.  I miss those in person creative times and I'm sure Rudy misses the forrest.     

We're fortunate to have a back yard and regular visits with our grandpup who we refer to as his "cousin" .  They are so compatible and bring out the best in one another - true BFFs.

Before the Shelter in Place, Rudy was invited for a play date to hang out with his sister.  They connected like not a day had gone by and were so cute together, in an exhausting kind of way!  It was great to see how well she was doing and that we had made the right decision.  This time they were actually sitting still for the picture- with the help of a treat - but hey.  

Rudy has settled in to be my sewing side kick with what little sewing I've done lately.  He even tries to snuggle when I'm laying in bed doing handwork.  He's pretty good at photobombing like our dogs that came before.

It's hard to imagine that our adoption anniversary is fast approaching.   In the span of 40 years that hubby and I have been together, we've only had four other fur babies so when you think of it that way, a year is a just a blink. 

Chase, Dottie, Roscoe and Samual
Well, if you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me in my attempt to recap.  See you soon for "What I did Last Summer Part Two".  Happy Stitching, Karen

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Modern with a Twist "Lean In" Block Design

Discovering online resources for quilting is more important than ever these days and a great place to start is the quarterly e-zine publication Modern by the Yard .   The magazine from Benartex includes free projects and highlights newly released fabrics.  

In the current issue #14, the theme for my favorite section "Modern with a Twist" features the Pinwheel block and I was honored to be one of the three designers included.  Be sure to check out the magazine and keep reading to find out more about my block, "Lean In" .

"Lean In" Block Design

I've been exploring the gentle improv style curve for quite some time now and jumped at the chance to see how it could transform the traditional Pinwheel.  
Lean In - a Modern Pinwheel

Layering fabric before cutting and/or using a hand-drawn freezer paper template like in my Temperature Quilt and Log Cabin for a uniform shape is one way to go.  Because there are no points to match up, each segment could also be done individually using a rotary or scissors freeform with similar but more organic results.

Individual Organic Improv Curves

Mabon is the newest line from fabric designer Shelley Cavanna of Cora's Quilts  and it was hard to narrow down which of her beautiful prints to showcase.   The wide range of values and variety in scale are a joy to mix.  You will find the one at the beginning of this post in the magazine along with my little "blurb", but I just had to share a few others here.  

The richness of the deep Plum and Yellow really glow.  It's easy to imagine using it together in a quilt with the original block.  A classic combination with a modern flare.


"Lean In" in Blue 
Monochromatic is really fun to explore and a great chance to play with transparency.   I've used five different fabrics in the block above and even more in the quilt design below and yet it reads cohesive, cool and calm.

Expanding the block beyond with pieced sashing as shown above makes for secondary patterns galore.  In this case, the mirrored orientation also add movement living up to the "leaning" part of the name.

More Layout Options 

The two designs below omit the sashed cornerstone portion of original "Lean In" block to create an attention getting center.   Isn't it entertaining to see what catches your eye based on which fabrics are used and where they are placed? 

Seen enough variations? Well to bad, here's a super scrappy one!  I don't know about you but my head is spinning like a Pinwheel with possibilities.  Remember to take a look at what the other designers came up with by visiting Modern by the Yard issue #14 - just hit the READ button or directly HERE, it's free!  You can also find more on social media with @benartex_fabrics @corasquilts #modernwithatwist #mabonfabrics  #modernbytheyard

One last thought about Mabon is that it coordinates well with Shelley's Gloaming fabric line and flashing back to when I designed this quilt for her Blog Hop, I see the influence of the center motif.  

Thanks for stopping by.  Keep in touch on Instagram where you'll find me more frequently.  Happy Stitching!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Hotter than I thought- 2019 Temperature Quilt

I took this picture on New Years Eve.  A pretty gorgeous day for a classic photo shoot on the front porch and I happened to have available two grown ups with long arms to hold it.  The beast is 91"x98" and if you're wondering why I didn't have to wait until the January to call the top done - it's because the final block for 12/31 will be the label on the back. 

In April I shared HERE the status so far.  Little did I know that later in the year we'd have a record breaking heatwave.  Historical Average High of 77 turned out to be 103. Triple digits are unheard of and yet it happened and more than once. 

The project came with me to a Retreat in March and again in September.  You can see the "holes" where I worked ahead leaving the TBD gaps.  I worked in three sections (approx 4 month chunks) so that I wouldn't have to drag the entire top with me and hog the design wall. 

Lesson Learned 

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen the progress step by step and may have read today's post in response to IGQuiltFest prompt: "Lesson Learned" 

"Best laid plans are subject to change- Embrace that as part of the journey. Make decisions along the way and keep going.  

When I embarked on the making of my #temperaturequilt2019 I determined the fabric color brackets with TBD above 81 degrees because we (typically) have mild weather. This way I could get going with months of progress before facing that hurdle.  I don’t regret the approach because all of the “what if“ and “should I“ scenarios were paralyzing my confidence to commit to a year long project and I could have otherwise stopped me in my tracks and done nothing. 

We can only forecast the future based on what we know and we should expect to wrong a good part of the time. That’s okay. 

How we choose to deal with it when our plans get derailed is also part of the experience.  Would I have made different brackets if I’d predicted the heatwave? Probably. Does it matter? Absolutely not. The quilt chronicles my creative choices along the way which hold a higher value than a statistically accurate representation. 

Memories of my 6 year old granddaughter reading the day’s temperature, writing the numbers, finding the corresponding color on the chart and selecting which two fabrics to sew - that’s what I’ll remember. Hopefully she will too.  The finished top is ready for quilting."

I think my hubby and pup are glad to have the project off the design wall in our living room.  It was a semi-perminant fixture all year long.  Unlike some makers, I didn't make a block a day but more often a week strip at a time.  There are a lot of parts left since I cut the rectangles ahead without calculating what I might need.  Considering that I missed the bracket mark by six - I'm pretty sure if I had attempted to guess how many of each color was needed I'd have as many parts as I do anyway.

Worth Repeating

Monthly Markers on IG include an image of something I've sewn the previous month.  My temperature quilt made an appearance twice - a little self-imposed rule bending. 

Did you see the recently announced Modern Quilt Guild plans for a 2022 QuiltCon Special Exhibit of Temperature Quilts made by their members?  Very exciting news.

Happy Stitching.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

BeeSewcial 2019 Blocks

2019 Blocks
I've compiled the entire year into one post this time.  Yes, every single one of the BeeSewcial blocks deserves to be featured (and some have) but it just feels like making this happen now - before more time goes by - is the best  and most realistic approach to documenting them.

Energy for Leanne
17”x21” “Energy “ for @shecanquilt Dark blue background with a palette that I’ve grown to identify with.  I was able to hand deliver the block to Leanne in person at QuiltCon last week.

Enthusiasm and excitement is infectious and when we surround ourselves with good vibes, great people and positive energy, it’s pretty awesome.  For me, Creative energy is also a balancing act that has an ebb and flow, requiring a recharge to avoid burnout. 

Style of Sonia Delaunay for Ken
For @thekingslacker.  It measures 13”x27” with three sides trimmed and one left for him to puzzle. Fantastic time expressing myself in the style of Sonia Delaunay, an artist who I was not familiar with but certainly can relate to and appreciate. The colors are so "me".   Like many of the bee blocks that i make and mail off, this is one that I would like to supersize and make into a larger quilt.  Not an exact replicate but in the spirit of. 

Inspired by Roberto Burle Max landscapes for Sylvia 
16”x23”  block inspired by the art and landscape architecture of Roberto Burle Marx for @astrangerview .  This one was interesting with a palette so different for me. Working with a 3D subject matter to translate to 2D was also facinating.   I really loved trying to capture shadow and am pleased with the graphic design that i ended up with.  There was quite a lot of cropping and decision making along the way. 
Maxi Scrappy Stripes for M-R

15”x27” August block for @quiltmatters Improv stripes prompt, varied widths, warm with extra orange and a 1/2” edge-to-edge light gray. The end result reminded me of a strip of juicy fruit gum.  There were comments from my local guild mates about how they were inspired by the block and thought " hey, I could do that" which I think is great.  It doesn't have to be complicated to be appealing. 

Modular for Debbie
Composing and constructing the Modular block for @aquilterstable BeeSewcial prompt was the biggest creative challenge in 2019.  I enjoyed the process and the results but haven’t struggled getting to the finish line that much in a while-looks innocent enough which I suppose is a good thing.  Trying to include subtle color variations and sew in the curved pairs tucked around one another just right with the negative spaces visually pleasing was a rough road.  A quilting journey with a happy ending though.  I'm please so report that Debbie has finished the quilt. 

Portraits for Felicity 
Introducing “Nat”, short for Natalie (or short for NATional Quilting Day when  she was born). She’s sporting a new hairdo with a streak of gray as a nod to transitioning to my natural color. #beesewcial March prompt Humanoid number 2.  I gotta say, she’s a sassy fun one and I had a blast creating her for you @felicityquilts 
Portraits for Felicity 
Meet Marley , 15”x17.5” humanoid number one for @felicityquilts He was created while on retreat and has a sort of cat like vibe.  The palette however brings to mind "Don't worry be happy" so that is how he got his name. 

Improv Play for Marci 
#BeeSewcial blocks for @marci_girl 2.5” 3.5” 4.5” Improv play . These were fun to make creating a bite here and there. As you can see I gravitate to a “bigger” canvas to compose on so there’s fewer tiny ones.  Making these "nibbles" was a nice change up from the large ones that are more commonly made. 
Bee Counted for Stephanie
2019 #beesewcial kicks off with a finished 13.5”x25” block for Stephanie @spontaneousthreads “Be (Bee)Counted” tally marks of our choice.  I love that our members are from all over.  It’s pretty much the only time I visit the post office to mail my blocks each month. Mine represent the five digit zip code for Capitola, using spacing for the zeros 95010 and the significance of the red diagonal dash on the five is in honor of our 5th year as a bee.  Freehand rotary and scissor cut for the sections with rulers used to true up. My poor penmanship extends itself to hashtags so they aren’t neat. Intentional irregularity was tricky but fun.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

2020 Finish-A-Long

Hello and welcome to the 2020 Finish-A-Long!
I've added a new tab 2020 FAL on the blog with the following information but wanted to also make a post to point out the changes.  The biggest one of course is that you won't be linking up as you've done in the past - the format has been simplified and participation will be Instagram based instead.  I hope that you'll continue (or start) to join in the FAL fun.  


Rhonda - Founder & Administrator - IG @rhonda.j.laws

Cami - Administrator - IG @camislero


Marci of Marci Girl Designs - IG @marci_girl

Ella of Throw A Wench in the Works - IG @ellathrowawench

Karen of Capitola Quilter - IG @capitolaquilter (that's me)

Sarah of Sarah Goer Quilts - IG @sarahgoerquilts

Sharla of Thistle Thicket Studio - IG @thistlethicketstudio

Lynne of Tinking Along - IG @tinkingalong


Instagram - @finishalong
Facebook - Finish-A-Long
Twitter - @FinishALong1
Email -


From Rhonda the founder and creator of the FAL:
The Finish-A-Long started back in 2012 as a way for me to keep track of all the stuff I wasn’t getting done. I was just starting my blog (my podcast was on the horizon) and wanted to “play” with my other blogging friends. A few of my blogging friends, as well as myself, knew online shop owners who were just getting started and were willing to be sponsors. 

Eight years later, it is this wonderful network of people who all work toward the same goal - to finish a project started prior to the beginning of the current quarter. And the bonus….when you finish a project and follow some simple rules, you are entered in a drawing.


Quarter 1
Q1 Lists by Sunday, 1/19/20                  #2020FALQ1List
Q1 Finishes by Wednesday, 4/8/20     #2020FALQ1Finish

Quarter 2
Q2 Lists by Sunday, 4/19/20                  #2020FALQ2List
Q2 Finishes by Wednesday, 7/8/20     #2020FALQ2Finish

Quarter 3
Q3 Lists by Sunday, 7/19/20                  #2020FALQ3List
Q3 Finishes by Wednesday, 10/7/20   #2020FALQ3Finish

Quarter 4
Q4 Lists by Sunday, 10/18/20                #2020FALQ4List
Q4 Finishes by Friday, 1/8/21                #2020FALQ4Finish


It's the start of a new decade and with this fresh start it was decided that the Finish-A-Long could use a fresh start too!  This year will be a little different to play along but still super easy.  Participants post their lists and finishes (just like last year) but it will be exclusively on Instagram.  Participants must use the hashtags listed above when posting either their one list by the deadline of the quarter or their multiple finishes anytime before the end of the quarter. They need to post finishes individually (just like last year) using the correct Finish Hashtag. 

The main difference from previous years is that there will be no linking up on the hosts blogs but rather everything will be entered via Instagram and the use of the hashtags.  If you don't use the hashtags, you aren't officially playing along.

A participant who wants to play along anytime during this year needs to post on Instagram one list of wips (one post with multiple photos or a collage) with the hastag #2020FALQ1List before January 19, 2020.  You can skip the first quarter and play along for quarter 2 if you so desire, just post your Q2 list anytime between April 8, 2020 - April 19, 2020.

During the quarter anytime a participant finishes a project (whether it is 1 week into the quarter or two months into the quarter) they would then post a finished photo of the project on Instagram with the hashtag #2020FALQ1Finish.  They would continue to do this everytime they finish a project during the quarter.


  1. The finishes and lists must be posted in the current quarter and by the current quarter deadline with the correct hashtag.
  2. All qualifying finishes will be put into a prize draw, and the names/numbers drawn at random for each of the prizes donated by our sponsors for that quarter. An extry will count as per post with the correct hashtag; therefore, check your hashtag and create a new post for each finish. 
  3. In order for your projects to be eligible, they must at least be a tangible project at the start of the quarter.  That means, at the very least, a fabric pull matched to a pattern, a quilt top needing to be quilted, or a half knit jumper. I love seeing your bee blocks, but they won't count unless you happen to be turning them all into a fully completed quilt!
  4. A finish is defined as a completely finished project, eg a quilt, quilted and bound, a bag that's fully lined and functional, or a jumper that one could wear out in public. I'm happy for you if you get a quilt top completed in one quarter, but hold onto it for the next quarter and see if you can get it quilted and bound before entering, please.
  5. You won't be punished if you don't finish your entire list, so feel free to make a big list and roll projects over from one quarter to the next if you need to. However, you must re-post that list. 
  6. Each quarter you will have ONE List post using ONE List hashtag and MULTIPLE Finishes posts using the SAME hashtag. The correct hashtag will always be in the profile @finishalong.
  7. The FAL is open to anyone, anywhere in the world.


Coming Soon!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

FAL Q4 Finishes Link up

We have reached the end of Quarter 4 of the 2019 Finish-A-Long!!  Of course, this means it is now time to link up those finishes from the list you linked up in October. We hope that you have been able to complete a lot of the UFOs from your list and have had an overall successful year.

The 2019 FAL is hosted by a great community of bloggers. This year our hosts are:

Each finish you link up will be in the draw for great prizes, so let's give a huge thank you to our fantastic sponsors:

Aurifil Logo
Winner's Choice of 1 Large 12 Spool Collection
Sew Sweetness Logo
$80 Gift Certificate

2019 Finish-A-Long Logo

Fat Quarter Shop Logo
$50 Gift Certificate
Sew Me a Song Logo
$25 Gift Certificate
Happy Quilting Logo
3 PDF Patterns

2 PDF Patterns

Blossom Hearts Quilts Logo
2 PDF Patterns
Make Modern Logo
1 Six Month Subscription
Bonjour Quils Logo
2 PDF Patterns

Hillstitches Logo
$30 Fabric Voucher

2019 Finish-A-Long Logo

The 2019 Quarter 4 link for your finishes is now open below on my blog and on each of the hosting blogs - you only need to link on one blog for your finish to appear on all host blogs.

Link-up "Rules":

Add one link for each finish.  If you want to link a round up post of all your finishes, use that link to enter one of your finishes and then link the rest of your finishes separately.  Please, only one link per finish, as your link is an entry into the randomly drawn prize draws. 

Please ensure that the photo (Instagram or Flickr) or blog post you link up contains a link or reference back to your original list so that we can verify your entry (make sure it is from the right quarter, too). On Instagram the best way to do that is to tag your photos with #2019FALQ4yourname (where yourname is unique to you), this makes it easier for us to match your finishes with your list, which also should have this tag.

Please become part of the FAL community.  Check out the links of others and leave a comment. We all need encouragement so let's applaud each other.  The 2019 FAL Facebook page is HERE and you can follow us on Instagram @finishalong.

Our hosts will also link up their finishes to share in the community but they are not eligible for any of the prizes.

The Q4 Finishes link will stay open from now thru 11 pm, EST, Thursday, January 9, 2020 - as we are global, you might want to check your time zone to determine your last possible time to link. You can also see how much time is left below the linked up images on the right.  It is best to link up your finishes early and if you have a last minute one, add that one later so you don't miss out.  The prizes will be awarded as soon as we can verify all the entries and do the drawings.  We will post the winners on each host's blog.

2019 Q4 Finishes Link Up: