A tale of two ladders

Ladder process

I seem to have ladders on the brain right now. I’m piecing a ladder into my Lone Robin quilt. Prompt #4 is roads, paths, ladders, and steps. Each space between the  rungs on this ladder is at least 1/4 inch closer together than the previous one, as if they are smaller, receding into the distance. I’m also making a tiny ladder out of sticks to go with the fairy door I made for the tree outside our house.

wood ladder.2Here’s the door I made from popsicle sticks and my twig ladder, ready for installation on the tree. The Sharpie is for scale, so you can see how tiny it is. If you double click on the image you will see the cord I wrapped around each twig of the ladder.

fabric ladder.1

Here is the process of piecing the ladder into the background.

fabric ladder.2

Here’s the ladder sewn together. I’m not sure if I’m done with it. I might change it.

#lonerobinquilt #ebhq_quilters #ebhqlonerobinquilt #sfqg




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Lone Robin 2021

I’m running behind in this year’s Lone Robin. However, I worked on it for a few days, and now I’m working on the current  prompt.

Julia created the Lone Robin for the SF Quilt Guild. With her permission, I’m running it for EBHQ. Here’s all the info on it from Julia McLeod. My photos are below this introduction.

The first Lone Robin Challenge was devised in 2020 to entertain members of the San Francisco Quilters Guild during the Covid 19 pandemic. The 2021 (second) Lone Robin Challenge runs for 6 months – February thru July 2021. August is a catch-up month.

Part mystery quilt, part Round Robin, quilters are given monthly prompts and very few rules to make a quilt of their own. Month by month, round by round, we build our quilts alone in the safety of our own sewing rooms.

The Lone Robin Challenge can be responded to in many ways – with traditional quilt blocks, modern motifs, skillful fabric choices, appliqué or embroidery. Use a motif once or repeat it multiple times; play with contrasting scale, color and contrast. Each round can be any size. Your finished quilt top can be any dimension.

There is only one firm rule: Each month’s work must attach to the previous month’s piece. For example: what you create for March should attach in some way – even if only on one side or in one small area – to what you made in February. Traditional quilters can build a medallion quilt where each round clearly follows on from the one before. Modern, art and improv quilters can create any kind of composition but we should be able to see where the first component/motif is followed by the second and so forth.

  • The first prompt for the month of February 2021, for your central block or first section is POINTS. A star, a windmill, pinwheels, zig zags or thorns all fit this theme; any ‘pointy’ motif or pattern. Your starting ‘POINTS’ block could be as tiny as 2” square. There are no rules about dimensions.
  • The second prompt for the month of March 2021 is STRIP PIECING. Create a border, a strip, a large panel or a tiny block that uses the technique of strip piecing. You may end up with stripes, piano keys, squares or a checkerboard. This is an efficient technique which ever way you slice it!
  • Prompt number three for the month of April 2021 is ORGANIC. Now that spring is here, think vines, leaves, blossoms and blooms – or even water and waves. Anything with curves rather than right-angles. Set aside your ruler this month and let this round unfold organically. Remember, each round can be as large or as small as you like. Go for a traditional medallion or just make a panel to attach to whatever you’ve made so far. I find the challenge of this exercise is to respond to what you’ve already made. And to do this knowing you have no idea what comes next. Even if you’re making a traditional-looking quilt, this is really an adventure in improvisation. Have fun!
  • Our Fourth Lone Robin prompt is ROADS, PATHS, LADDERS AND STEPS. This sends me to my old-school quilting block books. I love names of traditional blocks that reference movement and journeys. Jinny Beyer’s 1979 book ‘Patchwork Patterns’ is timeless. For those non-traditional quilters, just use this cue as inspiration. Your next round should show us your chosen route, however you take it.


This is prompt #1 Points.


Prompt #2 Strip Piecing.


Here are some process phots of Prompt #3 Organic.

LRin process3

LR in process3.1

Prompt #3 finished.

LR 3 finished

I deliberately left the right side empty. I’m planning on adding a ladder in orange on blue to that side for prompt #4. I don’t know what prompt #5 is yet, but I can add it just to the top edge, just to the bottom edge, or to both top and bottom.










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My first quilt

my first quikt

Here’s a detail of my first quilt:

my first quilt.1

On Thursday, 5/13/21 at the EBHQ Zoom Meet Up meeting, one of the activities will be participants sharing their first quilts. Here is mine. I started this quilt at age 13, when I was inspired by seeing a neighbor’s Victorian crazy quilt. Mine is mostly pieced by hand, although the blocks are sewn together by machine. There were no quilters in my family, so I taught myself, making it up as I went along. I didn’t know about the sew and flip method, so most of the crazy patches are appliqued to each other. I ripped up an old bed sheet as a foundation. There is a lot of hand embroidery all over it too. It took me 5 years to make that first quilt. I finished it just in time to take it with me to cover my dorm bed at the Rhode Island School of Design, where I earned a BFA in ceramics.


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Log cabin quilted!

Log cabin quilted but not bound

If you double click on the photo it will get bigger. I’m done with the quilting! Now I need to put the binding on it. I’m going with a facing rather than a traditional binding. That’s where all the binding is folded to the back so that you don’t see it on the front.

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quilting my inprov log cabin

log cabin.3

I’m working on quilting this log cabin. I’m not marking any lines. I don’t have a plan yet. I’m quilting a few lines with a walking foot, and then that gives me an idea of what to try next. I’m thinking about doing triangular spirals in the triangles around the “on point” log cabin. Below is a detail.

log cabin.4

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Improv Log Cabin


I’m working on this log cabin quilt. In my previous post I mentioned that I thought this quilt needed a tiny orange square in the upper left corner. I could have fused a square on top, but instead I took it apart and sewed in an orange square. I looked at it and regretted that the square wasn’t higher up. So I sewed another orange rectangle above it.


Here is what it looks like now.  I regret that I deliberately made it wonky. I’m thinking of doing it over with a straighter rectangle. I might sleep on this decision and see how I feel in the morning.


Posted in Improvisational piecing, log cabin blocks, Work In Progress | 1 Comment

Looking at a WIP (Work in Progress)

Log cabin WIP

When does a WIP become a UFO (Unfinished Fabric Object)? I haven’t worked on this improv Log Cabin in many months. I was deleting photos on my phone and came across it. When I stopped working on it I was trying to decide if it was done or not. Today I looked at it and decided that it needs at least one more tiny orange square in the upper left! I think that will help the eyes to travel around the quilt better.

Posted in log cabin blocks, modern quilts, Work In Progress | 1 Comment

The loss of Roberta Horton

I received  sad news this evening- the loss of a great quilt maker and one of the teachers who taught me how to quilt (after I taught myself- I started by making it up as I went along). She and her sister live/ed a few blocks from me. Pre-pandemic I used to run into them out taking walks in the neighborhood. I think I’ve only run into them once on my walk in the last year. Two years ago we were in the same BART car, on our way to the SFQG quilt show. We talked all the way from Berkeley to San Francisco. I learned most of what I know about Amish quilts from Roberta.
From President, EBHQ:
The sad news reached me today that our beloved Roberta Horton passed away Thursday afternoon, February 4th. I don’t have any more details at this time, but I want to reflect a moment on what a gift her life was to us.
It’s impossible to overstate her impact on our guild, on quilting nationwide and even worldwide. Roberta made her first quilt in 1972. She was an important bridge between the quilters of the Depression, who carried the craft with them for love through the post-war prosperity that suppressed the craft. Roberta caught the baton, and passed it to us. She was there, already teaching, when the Bicentennial revived interest in quilting. She taught the first state accredited adult education classes in quilting back in 1973! I know of a number of long-time Guild members who learned to quilt from Roberta. Roberta and her sister Mary Mashuta were EBHQ founding members.
Roberta stretched beyond tradition. There had been Story Quilts before of course, but her exploration of her European heritage through her quilts helped popularize the form. Her exploration of ethnic fabrics, and the design influences of artists worldwide helped make EBHQ in the early days, before the Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA), a welcoming home for the burgeoning Art Quilt movement. And she taught all of this, through Albany Adult Education and beyond. She wrote 5 books on quilting, donated some of her most important quilts to the then new San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and was honored nationally and internationally.
She was also an avid gardener, and two years ago at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire I had the honor of teaching a Woman Of A Certain Age, who had known Roberta for decades from the Garden Club, how to piece a nine-patch, as we shared stories of our beloved friend from different contexts.
Roberta was unfailingly gracious, welcoming and kind to me, a much younger MAN, encouraging my sometimes strange quilts!
Keep her memory close, and I challenge YOU to challenge yourself, as SHE did; learn, this year, a new technique, use some unfamiliar fabric, and always, always, teach whomsoever you may.
“And gladly wolde she lerne, and gladly teche.” -slightly altered from Chaucer, “Canterbury Tales”
I have asked the Web Support Team to create a Forum Thread on the Discussion Board where we can share our memories of Roberta.
May her sister, Mary Mashuta, Be Comforted In Her Loss, along with all of Roberta’s family. And May Her Memory Be For A Blessing. I’ll pass memorial details as I get them.
You can read and remember at http://www.robertahorton.com/
– Ryan Young –
EBHQ President, 2020-2021
Roberta Horton: Quiltmaking Teacher - Author - Designer
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Small Covid related quilt


I never posted about this small 12″ x 12″ quilt which has now traveled to Sacramento and back. Here’s what SAQA and the Blueline Gallery said about the show:

This Showcase will exhibit work inspired as a result of the pandemic. While quarantined or sheltering at home, artists have grappled (and continue to grapple) with social distancing, isolation, loss and grief. How do artists express their emotions during this period? Does a slower pace of life afford opportunities for more intense creative expression? Artists in Residence will explore this subject.

Here’s what I wrote about my quilt:

September 9, 2020 was the day that the sky turned orange-yellow due to smoke from forest fires. It was so dark that it felt like twilight all day. In this piece the houses aren’t side by side, but socially distanced, representing all of us sheltering in place. We are in our separate homes, but not alone since we are connected through the internet. Instead of the sun, which couldn’t be seen on September 9, I placed a flower that looks like a Corona Virus.



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Re-do for my (prize winning!) Lone Robin


I took apart the top row and redid it. I knew that every time I looked at it it would bother me. Below is the previous version. Deadlines are my friend! January 1st was the deadline for EBHQ.

Lone Robin SFQG


What’s somewhat ironic is that the version right above which bothers me, won first place at the SFQG among 25 other Lone Robin quilts. I won a $50 gift certificate to Bay Quilts! Everyone at the Zoom meeting got to vote for their favorite. On the first vote, three of us  got 9 votes each. Then there was a runoff vote and I won!! This is my first quilt to win a prize as EBHQ doesn’t give prizes at our show.


Below are all the rounds of the Lone Robin from the SFQG website, with the 6th one first, and going down to the first one.


Nov 2nd Element: Your final round is…wait for it!… YOUR CHOICE! (with one condition). Add anything you like – plain, fancy, wide or skinny, patterned or solid. You get it – anything you like to wrap up your quilt design to your satisfaction. Maybe there’s enough compositional drama already and all you need is a plain border to complete your quilt. Or perhaps it’s time to create a dazzling final element. I leave it to you. The one condition is that in this final border, you must use one of the colors that appears in your first curved/circles block.

Oct 5th Element: Your fifth element must include crosses or Xs. They can be regular or wonky! This could be the moment where you cut your entire piece into quarters and put a cross through the middle of it. Or maybe you’ll make some miniature “x” blocks and scatter them in the corners of your quilt. You could combine crosses with another motif of your choosing. It’s your choice, Lone Robins!

Sept 7th Element: Your fourth element must include squares. They can be neatly square, or loose quadrilaterals, big blocks or tiny checkerboards. The squares can be pieced, printed, appliquéd, embroidered – you decide! They can be evenly arranged or just feature in a few small areas. You could combine them with another motif of your choosing. Use your imagination!

Aug 10th Element:  Your third element must include strips or stripes. You could piece your stripes or use a stripy fabric. They can be straight or wavy, chunky or pencil-thin. The stripes can be evenly distributed or just appear in a few small areas. The possibilities are endless!  

July 2nd Element:  Your second element must include flying geese that connect to the 1st element in some way — you decide how. You can paper piece them, foundation piece them, stretch them out so they’re skinny and long or wide and flat. They can follow the shape of a circle or wind randomly. You can make a string of ten on each side, or just include two or three randomly. The variations are endless!

June 1st Element: Your first element must be something that involves curves or a circle. Go for a paper-pieced block, cut your curves free-hand, appliqué something circular, or even feature a face!  Your first block can be any size or shape. It’s up to you. Have fun, Lone Robins!


Posted in Improvisational piecing, Lone Robin | 1 Comment