Archive for the ‘traci wooden-carlisle’ Tag

How To – Quilt   8 comments

My alternative to writing in the winter is quilting and the 4-patch was my first pattern. It’s so simple and turns out so well that it and the 9-patch are my favorite blocks.

Before we get started, though … my fellow blog hoppers are also exploring this topic. Well, maybe not quilting — but how to do something.

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First, there are some tools you need to acquire. Fortunately you can do this at the fabric store where you buy the main ingredients to this work of folk art.


Sewing machine (you can hand piece, but I wouldn’t).

Iron & Ironing Board (or a towel on a table if needed)


Rotary Cutter (trust me, it makes the squares go a great deal faster)

A cutting mat and quilting ruler (again, these tools make the process so much easier than the old hand methods)

4 squares of cotton fabric the same size. A 5th square that is another pattern that is about twice as much. You want a lot of contrast in your 4-patch. I used purple and white in this one. The purple has a dense non-directional pattern. You want the 4-patch to pop. The open block is a great place to include a repeat of the colors from the 4-patch. I prefer a larger pattern here, though I didn’t use it in my example. I prefer something with almost no pattern for the “neutral” block, though I obviously violated my own rule on the example.

I recommend washing and drying (using low settings) your fabric before you start because cotton always shrinks a bit and this should be gotten out of the way before you do the sewing. Trust me, you want cotton and no a cotton-poly mix.

Generally, I like to start with fabric swatches that are 1 yard (3 feet) by the width of the fabric bolt. I like my smallest squares to be 2-inches when finished.

To use the cutting mat, quilting ruler and the rotary cutter to best advantage, fold one of the ironed fabric swatches four times in the same direction. I prefer to match the selvaged edges together, then fold it a second time at the midway point, aligning the folded edge with the selvaged edges. Squareness is critical in this pattern, so use the guides on the quilting ruler to determine that your fabric piece is square along the selvaged edge and the folded edge before you use the rotary cutter to slice off the ragged edge at the top of the square. Now cut the rest of the square into 2 1/2 inch strips.  Do that to all of your squares.

Do this to each of your fabric swatches.

Take two different fabric strips and put them right sides together, matching the raw edges. Sew along one edge with a 1/4″ seam. Measure it. For me, that’s the distance from my needle to the outside of my presser foot, but not all machines are the same. If your machine is not like mine, I suggest tape on the sewing bed to tell you where 1/4″ is.

Repeat with your other strips.

You now have two fabrics stripped and matched and two fabrics waiting for you, though ironed and squared.

Heat your iron to cotton setting (use a lower setting if you’re using polyester thread — cotton thread works better). The iron is best dry (no steam).

Put one double-strip on the cutting mat and measure 2/12″. You’ll notice that the opened double strip actually measures 2 1/4″. Using the rotary cutter, cut 2 1/2″ squares from the double strip. What you end up will look something like what’s to the left here.

Open the pairs of squares so that the seam is behind the darker fabric or the fabric with the busiest pattern if they’re the same tone. You want the fold in the fabric to be as close as possible to the stitches. Press the seam flat. Inspect it with your fingers. Set the iron on the seam. Do not move the iron from side to side as this distorts the fabric. Slowly slide the iron the length of the fabric, assuring the fold remains close to the stitches.

Picture of Finish the block.Take your first pair of squares and put it down with the right side upper most and the dark fabric nearer you (the seam should be underneath and pointing “towards” you). Take your second pair of squares and put them on top of the other so that the right sides are together (inside) and you do not have the same fabrics facing each other.  Match the raw edges and nestle the seams snugly up against each other.

Sew a 1/4″ seam down the right hand side of your squares.  When you get to the seam feed it gently under the foot so that it doesn’t flip and try to keep the seams butted right up against each other.

4 patch block.JPGTake you sewn block to the ironing board and press the seam flat, then open as before (you can’t only press to the dark side this time) and there is your completed 4 patch block.

Now take your 3rd fabric. Iron and fold it as before and cut into 4 1/4 inch strips. On the perpendicular, cut the strip into 4 1/4″ blocks. Place the 4-patch block right sides together on the open block and sew together. Take your sewn block to the ironing board and press the seam flat toward the field block side.

Arrange so the blocks alternate between 4-patch block and field block. You can see from my example quilt that I have a pattern that goes from one corner of the bed to the other. I’m told by other quilters that this is not absolutely necessary, but I’m personally OCD about it.

Now, look at the finished quilt top. I never pick my border colors until I’ve finished my top. I’m going to need a narrow border to frame the top and a wider border to hang off the side of the bed, plus a backer fabric that will provide the inspiration for the binding.

I want my frame border to really put a finish on the top, so I will usually pick the boldest color in the topper and sometimes make it darker. I prefer monochromatic frames. I have a friend who always frames in black and another who always frames in white, but I prefer to get my color pallet from the topper. If I were using the example 4-patch (which I stole from someone else), I would make a dark blue, probably navy frame. You can see from my example that I picked a green from my field blocks as the frame.

The outside border is a cool place to deal with your least favorite color in the quilt. I’m not a fan of yellow or pink, so my outside border often includes those colors. I to like use an amorphous pattern. Although the example quilt has a narrow outside border, I generally prefer to make them wider so that they don’t let air in under the blankets when someone is lying under them.

Bindings, batting and backing are a whole new set of skills that I’m going to leave for a future post.

My friend Traci Wooden-Carlisle is discussing this topic at her blog.  Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that as a way to creating worlds, as well as, to communicate with God. A native of Los Angeles, California, she grew up attending United Methodist Church under the leadership of a pastor whose heart was for youth. Once she finished college at she found herself at a loss. She felt caught in the transition between childhood and adulthood. She surrounded herself with saints and volunteered her services as a graphic artist. Through the early-morning prayer, all night Friday prayer and 3-day shut-ins she started on her journey toward her most desired gift, an intimate relationship with God.
Today, Mrs. Wooden Carlisle lives in San Diego with her husband, David Carlisle. She serves as a church Office Manager, teaches fitness classes, continues to praise the Lord through dance, and is currently writing her second book in her Christian-fiction series.

Vacationing on the Extreme   4 comments

Do you like to read? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the MMB Open Book Blog Hop each Wednesday and they will tell all. Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.’

Topic: It’s the time of year for vacations (Holiday for our UK friends). Share your favorite vacation, your dream vacation or anything in between.

Hi, welcome to the blog. If you’re hopping over from Traci Wooden-Carlisle‘s blog, I’m sure she had a great story to tell. While you were there, did you check out her books? Thanks, Traci, for the introduction. If you’re joining midstream as it were, follow the link back to check out what she’s up to.

This week’s blog hop topic is dream vacations. I have all of the same dreams as anyone. I’d like to visit Switzerland, Iceland and Australia sometime, and take a cruise of the Caribbean. I want to drive east to west across the United States, both across the north and south and take time to savor the experience. I want to return to Hawaii, see the Big Island and Molakai, and return to Maui. I’d like to drive and hike the old logging areas of the Olympic Peninsula and visit Yosemite.

But the fact is … everybody has some version of those dream and I’m an Alaskan, so we already live an adventure. Most of the vacations we’ve enjoyed have been less than dreamlike during the actual event, but we remember parts of them with warm affection now, so they are all dream vacations in their own way.

A lifetime goal was finally filled last year when my son and I took the Alaska Marine Highway out the Aleutians. Lest you misunderstand me, AMHS is a ferry system that covers the south coastal area of Alaska, where there are no roads.

It’s a four day journey that carried us nearly 900 miles from Homer, where we embarked, to Unalaska, which is actually the start of the Aleutians.

The ferry Tustamena served as our transportation and campground as we took this journey, which our son (Kyle) says may be the safest camping he’s ever done. Normally we camp in the Alaska wilderness where we keep a gun tucked in the tent bag in case the wildlife attacks. While we saw seabirds, seals, whales and sea lions on our trip, we never once worried about a moose stomping the tent or a bear eating one of us while we were answering nature’s call.

Yes, we tent camped on the ferry. This is considered perfectly normal behavior on the week-long round trip as cabin space is limited and expensive. The Tustamena has showers, a lovely observation lounge where you can get in from the chill and food service … though we actually didn’t use that very often. We brought MRE’s (military-surplus meals-ready-to-eat) which use CO2 warmers. This novelty provided a great deal of entertainment for the tourists.

A part of the fun of the trip for Kyle was that he got to be the expert for the tourists who were also attempting to camp on the ferry. We are old hands at tent camping in high winds where rocky ground prevents staking the tent, so the Tustamena’s deck was not a problem for us. We know how to weight the corners with personal items and we brought along an air mattress (a luxury for us because the weight is not worth it when you’re hiking) to get us off the hard deck. Kyle spent a lot of time showing men twice his age (he was 15) how to “stake” their tents to the deck with duct tape. I’m sure they wondered why we didn’t do the same, but it was because we came prepared.

Although teenagers are great tent warmers, it was freaking cold outside the tent at night and one night the waves were up and we witnessed several of our fellow travelers break tent poles in the wind. For Kyle and I, it was all part of the fun. We brought winter sleeping bags and ours is a three-season wind-resistant tent. It was a luxury for us to roll out of the tent and be able to take hot showers, although the morning I had to take a dash through freezing rain to the shower, I wished we had a cabin. Nothing that a hot shower followed by some fresh coffee in the cantina didn’t cure. The kid even learned to appreciate coffee on this trip. Neither of us is prone to seasickness, though at one point on that stormy night I woke up thinking we were being sucked to the bottom of the deep blue sea.

We spent a day in Kodiak, because the ship stopped there for about eight hours, and we hiked with friends who live there. We then spent four days wandering the ship, taking photos of the passing landscape and talking to strangers about Alaska. We got off in Sand Point, Chignik and King Cove for short periods. I made a couple of new friends who I continue to converse with over Internet, and I learned a great deal about the King Cove to Cold Bay Road and why it essential this vehicle-capable trail be built.. The ocean trip was extremely relaxing, occasionally boring, but broken by periods of unique experience as seals swam alongside the ferry and whales breached no further away than our neighbor’s house in Fairbanks.

Neither of us knew what to expect of Unalaska or Amaknak (the island home to Dutch Harbor proper), but once we got there everywhere we went, we saw tangible reminders of Aleut history, Russian Orthodox culture and the tumultuous years of World War II, which opened door after door for reflection and education. We chose to stay overnight in Unalaska rather than continue with the AMHS for its turn-around, so we had time to explore.

The Unalaska/Port of Dutch Harbor Convention and Visitors Bureau has made a concerted effort in recent years to encourage extended exploration by visitors. Cruise ships have begun making ports of call. Originally settled centuries ago by the Aleut People who led a true subsistence lifestyle, the Aleutians are a harsh, beautiful land.  World War II shaped the future of Unalaska, at least in terms of infrastructure and topography. In 1940, the United States Navy appropriated Unalaska and Amaknak islands as a fortification against potential Japanese attack, which started June 3, 1942. While no actual battles were fought in the Dutch Harbor area, two days of bombing and an eventual presence of Japanese forces in Attu and Kiska at the western end of the chain kept up to 40,000 American soldiers, sailors and airmen stationed in Unalaska until the war ended. One of those sailors was my brother’s father, who was a photographer and so I had seen some black-and-white photos of his time stationed in the Aleutians.

The concrete and steel remnants of a world at war do not easily yield to time. Most of the gun turrets have been removed, but we saw evidence of them everywhere. Unlike sites of major battles or well-known commemorative memorials, little has been done to mitigate the eventual overgrowth of crowberry bushes, grasses and a variety of animal and bird life, which I found more affecting than what you see on the Mall in Washington DC.

The arrival of World War II meant the construction of roads, both in town and beyond, totaling 38 miles. Today, those same dirt roads lead to generally unmarked trails that, once explored, open a chapter of history that cannot be replicated in any classroom. It’s a fisherman’s paradise, but we had no way to preserve any fish we caught, so we didn’t fish.

Knowing we were going to want to hike, we had already secured a recreational land-use permit from the Ounalashka Corporation, land owners of nearly all of the Dutch Harbor area. It’s $6/individual or $10/family for day use. Corporation headquarters on Salmon Way also provides detailed hiking maps, berry-picking guidance and an excellent display of Aleut baskets, sculptures and art.

Trail options are plentiful even within the boundary of town, but we had limited time, so we hiked Bunker Hill on Amaknak, which was a wonderful place capture our first sense of the U.S. military’s attempt to establish itself as a protectorate. Accessed near the Small Boat Harbor, this old military road is closed to motorized vehicles, leaving a wide switchback trail that winds up and around the hill, past abandoned tunnels, bunkers and a concrete turret that overlooks town. Making our way back to town, we discovered a series of carefully dug trenches in geometric patterns, designed to prevent Japanese troops from advancing overland.

Mount Ballyhoo overlooked our journey each step of the way. Ballyhoo is the site of Fort Schwatka. Almost unseen by the casual observer, Fort Schwatka provided housing, medical care, offices, communications bunkers and a series of tunnels running back and forth through the hillsides. Like many military-themed hikes, Fort Schwatka feeds the imagination. Although this remote military installation provides proof of worldwide conflict in a different era, it’s also a reminder of the people stationed here — young, naive soldiers who may never have traveled before being dropped on this chilly northern equivalent of a desert island, watching and waiting for an enemy known for stealth and surprise. When the wind blows hard enough, whistling across the summit of Mount Ballyhoo, or clouds blow a misty breath across the open front of half-buried turrets, it’s easy to visualize and difficult to comprehend just what it must have been like when this was truly the end of the world.

Unalaska’s lush treeless hillsides begged us to hike the island’s steep, windy slopes. Most trails are old military access points. Others, like the Ugadaga Trail, are historical thoroughfares of the Aleut people. Camping is allowed in designated areas, provided a land-use permit has been obtained. A map of the area, provided by the Ounalashka Corporation, is a must, as many trailheads are only vaguely marked.

We only had the one day and night, so we didn’t bother to sleep since it was mostly daylight and we knew we could sleep on the ferry when we got back on), so our last hike in Unalaska was the Ugadaga Trail. Plunging 800 feet toward the opposite shoreline, this is a 1.5-mile hike tackled by families. It only took about two hours and the sun was nice enough to come out and make us hot as we hiked.

We saw fox, ground squirrels, nesting eagles, rock ptarmigan and so many types of wildflowers that I lost track. We also encountered a lot of wet, slippery conditions and other hikers who were alarmed that they couldn’t get cell phone or Internet in many parts of Unalaska. We had locked our electronics in the trunk of the car in Homer so were not really concerned with the loss of connectivity. We brought MREs, water and layers of warm, weatherproof clothing. We also stopped for breakfast at Amelia’s.

The best part of this trip was that Kyle and I spent an entire week together, enjoying each other’s company. We played a lot of cribbage and took some great photos, met some interesting people and got to see a part of Alaska that even most Alaskans never see. Brad (husband) and Brianne (daughter) were unable to join us for this journey, so we will probably go back, at least to Kodiak, but I’m also curious to explore King Cove and Cold Bay. This is not a trip for everyone. It pays to have experience in shoulder season camping and stomachs not easily upset by rolling waves, but it is definitely something that’s been on my life list since I was in college and the State first opened the route there.

So now that you’ve been way off the beaten track with me, you should go on and see Stephany Tullis‘s vacation stories and perhaps take some time to check out her inspirational books.

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