Monday, August 25, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Yippee!!  Your stop today:  
Finger Lakes Region, USA.

Hi - I'm Karen Miller, chief blogger at Karen's Quilts, Crows and Cardinals, and Owner of Redbird Quilt Co.  I'm thrilled that you stopped by to join me in the
"Around the World Blog Hop".
 I would love to be able to tell you where the Blog Hop started... but I'm not really sure.  If you know, please leave me a comment and let me know - I would love to give credit where credit it due -- such fun!!

I want to give special thanks to the wonderfully talented Raewyn from Northland, New Zealand, who tagged me for the hop this week.   
Raewyn has a sweet blog "LoveToStitch" and shares all things creative there.   
You can use this link to read Raewyn's Blog Post for the Around the World Blog Hop.  

Raewyn's projects and creativity are quite inspiring!     Look at this darling quilt she designed to be used as a Free Motion Quilting BOM at her Local Quilt Shop.  
Image Courtesy LoveToStitch blog and Raewyn Barge
Now do you see why Raewyn and I are friends?   The girl loves Redbirds and is a talented designer and instructor (not to mention wife of a dairy farmer, mum, and multi-talented crafter!).   
She is one busy lady!

One of the many things I LOVE about the blogging community is that we can live nearly 10,000 miles apart and still share, and celebrate, and guide, and laugh together each new day.  
We truly are blessed to have blogging buddies near and far!! 
Thank you Raewyn for inviting me to Hop Around the World with you!   
It's certainly My pleasure.

OK -- Moving forward -- per Blog Hop Protocol I will attempt to share the following things with you...

1. What am I working on? 
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
3. Why do I write/create what I do? 
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Lets get started....  

1. What am I working on ?

Now I might ask, how many of you think this is a loaded question ??  

I'll share though, that I am one of those people that has anywhere from 3 to 5 "active" projects going at the same time.  
I'm not sure if I suffer from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or not, but I do know that I "enjoy" hopping from one project to another.     

My current "active" projects are:

a. Preparing a sweet little Free Motion Quilting Tutorial using 
Stonehenge Kids Undersea Adventures Panel 
by  Linda Ludovico for Northcott. 
This time I'm getting to play with a little bit of #Aurifil 28wt thread on my domestic machine.
OH MY I love it!!
  Stay tuned to the Bear Creek Quilting Company's blog for this future tutorial.  

b. A newly approved Moda Bake Shop recipe.  
The fabric showed up just last week so stay tuned for a sweet new pieced and appliqued pillow using the lovely "Hearts Content" fabric 
from Laundry Basket Quilts for Moda 
 and using
 some pieces of luscious 
Bunny Hill Pastel Wool
 c. An quilt sample and book review for a soon to be released Book by my very talented friend, Wendy Sheppard.  
Image courtesy
You can read more about the book on Wendy's blog here -- and pre-order it here.  
Stay tuned to see my sample and review coming in September or October...

Congratulations my dear friend.

d. Completing the written instructions and pattern packaging for my latest (not "new" anymore) design "Wooly Wren".

e.  and finally.... 
Designing my next wool on cotton applique project for a spring release -- I think you'll love it!!  Sorry no images to share :(

On the side I'm also preparing and looking forward to three September/November Guild Lectures and Trunk Shows locally (lucky me!!)

...and working on my Quilting the Garden blocks (by Blackbird Design) 
The House Block
 A flower from the Winter Block
 A flower from the fall block
and all while working full-time as an Information Technology professional at Cornell University!   

WOW - how is that for an answer to "What are you working on?".

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre ?

Well -- I really struggled with this question...  There are many talented wool applique designers out there today -- like Michelle May of the Raspberry Rabbits who makes beautiful Whimsical designs with wool...
Image from
or Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings -- who makes awesome scrappy primitive designs with wool some of which may include a lot of piecing....  
Words to Live By -- from
or the fantastic Kim Diehl designs -- always scrappy - sometimes wool... always beautiful!
Image from
or the ever so talented Anne Sutton from Bunny Hill Designs -- Anne creates the most beautiful patterns and sells wool and fabric lines for Moda/United Notions.  
Image from

But at this point in my game what I'm working on is simple wool designs, almost always on a cotton background, sometimes including cotton fabric applique as well -- and using more traditional or old-fashioned construction techniques - less glue, no fusing, and focused on hand (not machine) applique.   

My designs are normally smalls or mini's - pillows, table toppers, wall hangings -- and they normally include some sort of bird on them.

I enjoy the process and I LOVE to encourage people to ENJOY THE PROCESS -- don't rush through.  
Kick back and enjoy. 

3.Why do I write/create what I do ?

I love these things - not necessarily in this order...

Free Motion Quilting
Flower Gardens
Hand Stitching
Animals and Wildlife
Writing and Documenting

This is why I create what I do -- I've found a hobby/profession that allows me to mix and match all of the things I love.  It makes it easy to create -- to focus -- to spend time on creating.

4. How does my writing/creating process work ?

There are a couple of different answers to this question....

a. Let the fabric show you the way...

Sometimes I have a specific fabric that I want to use to create something beautiful -- you can see that with the "Family Tree Quilted Envelope Pillow".
I won the fabric from a Deb Strain blog giveaway and I wanted to create something with it.

In this case I study the fabric -- I let the fabric inspire my creation!
The tree, the birds -- they came from the fabric.   
The stripy offset log cabin design was an attempt to do something a bit different than a medallion center.   
I love the way it came out.
You can download the recipe from the Moda Bake Shop here.
 I use pencil and paper to start the process and scratch down a design -- erase it, play with it, it works for me.  I keep all of my designs in spiral bound notebooks. 
Here is my first sketched draft of the Family Tree pillow.
Often, when I get fabric in hand -- I'll mock-up the pattern I have in mind - especially if I have limited amounts of the end result fabric.   

You can see the mock-up of Redbird and Berries here (done in wool). 
The real Redbird and Berries was all done in cotton and published on the Moda Bake Shop as a Free Download.   You can also download it from Craftsy - Click => Here

Speaking of Redbird and Berries...

b. Let an image show you the way...

I take pictures all the time - in buildings, of buildings, on campus, in the woods, on the lake, in a museum, outside my window, everywhere!!  
Redbird and Berries was inspired by an image of a Cardinal that I had captured outside my front window in the winter at home...
In this case I had the image and not the fabric.  To add to the Redbird design I was inspired by MacKenzie Childs Courtly Check pattern -- so I had this image too...

Cardinal and Berries and Courtly Check...   The resulting Redbird and Berries came from those images.  You can read the complete Redbird and Berries tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop and also download the free PDF tutorial from my Craftsy.  
The pattern is fun,  a little challenging but, in the end, so very beautiful to display.   
(PS -- I am teaching this pattern in September at a LQS -- Yippee).
When I put the Redbird and Berries design to the computer -- I used MS Office Publisher to create the checkerboard border and hand sketched the cardinal by blowing up the target image on my computer.  

I then traced it onto paper, took a picture of it with my IPAD and adjusted the size of the image to the size border I wanted.
I used MS Paint to freehand add in the stems and the berries.  
Here is a shot of what I sent to the Moda Bake Shop for a proposal...   Neat huh ?  
I still can't believe they accepted it!!

 c.  Let the desire to Free Motion Quilt drive the design...

As was the case with this piece -- "Feathered Flower Fun". 
I really wanted to make a LONG table runner with feathers being the focal point -- I wanted to stitch them on my domestic machine and practice on a piece that wasn't throw away.
I added a bit of flower and a bit of wool and ta-dah!! 

 SO that's a little insight to me, my design process, and the things that make me tick.

What I failed to mention is that I also have a large family -- of which many (sisters and granddaughters) also love to sew and everyone, including my husband, provide endless support and encouragement
This makes me happy -- I'm so lucky to share my love with those that are important to me.

Now -- onto the next trip Around the World -- I want to tag these three ladies from the states:

The lovely Carole Carter who blogs over at From My Carolina Home.  
Carole lives in the mountains of North Carolina and is such a talented quilter, crafter and sewing enthusiast.  She also loves to work with wool, stamp, garden, hike -- you name it and she does it!   
Carole has tons of tutorials on her blog that you must check out.
You can see them by visiting her Tutorials page.  Fantastic stuff and sew much to learn!
I wish we lived closer to one another because I can see us stitching together for hours on end.  Welcome to the hop Carole.
Next is the talented Jan Manley who blogs over at SewandSowFarm and has an Etsy site Featherweight Quilt Company.
Jan is a hardworking farmers wife and country girl living in the mountains of beautiful North Georgia who I just "connected" with about a year ago.  
Jan is always sharing her beautifully paper pieced Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks with us -- OH MY they are knock down gorgeous.  
Jan and I share a love of the country and of Aurifil Thread!!   We sew from two different ends of the spectrum but still have so much in common.  
Welcome to the hop Jan!   

Lastly, I would like to tag Angie Nudge who blogs over at A Quilting Reader's Garden.  
Angie lives in sunny California and has been blogging since 2009.  
Somehow, out in blogland, we hooked up when I first started blogging.  
Angie is one of those types who just always provide support and encouragement to those around her - she has for my journey and I am grateful.  Thank you Angie.  
Angie is always giving her beautiful creations to those in need -- and has a strong faith.   
She hosts linky parties and encourages you to share your eye candy each week.  
Welcome to the hop Angie.

These ladies will be sharing their creative process on Monday September 1st (or the 2nd as Monday is a Holiday here in the States). Thanks to all 3 of you for participating - I can't wait to read your posts!

Did you enjoy the hop ?  
Was is what you expected ?
If you participated in the Around the World Blog Hop please leave me a link in the comments - I would love to jump over and read it.
I enjoyed creating it but do want to apologize for being late :(   
Sometimes life just gets in the way of what I really want to do !!  

Have a blessed week all and thanks for stopping by.


  1. I am really enjoying the blog hop and truly appreciate the time and effort you all put into your blogs.

  2. Yes, I did enjoy reading about you. Your post sounds so professional! I know mine will not be at ALL like that. But that's okay. Quilters are all different. I do love your wool work. It's on my list of things to get back to. All I need is more hours in the day - or to learn to get by with no sleep! =)

  3. Wonderful time 'getting to know' a little better.

  4. Fascinating post Karen. So interesting to see how you have 'answered' the questions! And thank you for your kind words. Isn't the world a small place :-)

  5. Fantastic post Karen. You are one busy lady! You know I am a fan of your work. I really want to find some time to learn wool applique. I love the look and texture it creates. Thank you for inviting me to this fun hop! It was really great learning a little more about you dear friend! So fun!
    xo jan

  6. Trapunto, pretty colors, whimsical designs! Love the Undersea panel! Always a treat to visit :)

  7. As always, Karen, you have such a wealth of creativeness to show us and also share the process. It's good to know more about you.

  8. thanks for sharing all this with us, I feel I know you so well now and look forward to yoyur next post. I already follow Raewyn and Jan and will check out the other links

  9. I enjoyed getting to know you better. I worked in IT for over 30 years before having to retire due to breast cancer and fibromyaliga (I was diagnosed with each six weeks apart). I took my first quilting class years ago while still working. I've always had to have another creative outlet, be it sewing, knitting, cross stitch. I always have something in my hands. Now, I spend hours on the computer looking for inspiration. I "know" Jan and in years after I finish hand piecing and hand quilting my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt, I am going to give Lucy Boston a go. I stamp my fabric and then hand piece this quilt. I'm considering using EPP thanks to Jan. I feel a very real connection with her not only because of quilting but also because I was raised on a farm. I lived in a very rural area where I went to a one-room school with no running water and we had two out houses. The older students carried water from the pump to the coolers in the coat room. The cook had to carry water, too. I was the only girl in my grade 2-5. We had only one junior high and one high school in the county. I had my mother for five classes. In addition to working in IT, I completed my masters in education. I was working on my doctorate in gifted education when I became to ill to continue. I was two classes and my dissertation away from finishing. I think about all I learned not what I did not accomplish. Thanks for the great post. I love your telling about your processes.

  10. Delightful post. Loved learning all about you and your creative process, as well as who and what inspires you. Thanks for taking the time to put this post together.

  11. Delightful post. Loved learning all about you and your creative process, as well as who and what inspires you. Thanks for taking the time to put this post together.

  12. What a wonderful post. I love all of your little birds and the wrens in particular! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your creative process! This blog hop is so much fun and it is wonderful the have the opportunity to learn so much about so many talented quilt makers around the world.

  13. What a fantastic post Karen and wow do you have some beautiful projects going on! I would love to hear one of your lectures!

  14. Wonderful post Karen and love seeing all your beautiful projects!!

  15. Thank you for this wonderful post, dear Karen!!

  16. I loved reading your answers to questions 3 and 4 about how and why you create. Your creation process for the Redbird mini quilt gives an additional level to the piece.
    Seeing your beautiful quilting on the creatures-of-the-sea panels makes me think that there are baby quilts in the making. Am I right?
    P.S.: You're such a generous persons that you "sponsored" other creators in your blog hop post. That says how generous you are! :-)

  17. OoooOoo! I love seeing what you're up to and getting a glimpse into your designing world!

    Between you and one of my quilting customers who sends me her wool applique tops to be quilted, I'm coming down with a wool bug. Bought some beautiful, jewel toned, hand dyed wools at a show recently!