Archive for March, 2010


For some time I’ve been ignoring the idea of making a crazy patchwork square on which to use TAST stitches. It would just be a practice cloth, but more interesting to work on than a plain piece of fabric. Saturday I decided to act on the idea. Because it’s been quite a while since I’ve done any piecing, I consulted Marsha Michler’s terrific book to review the various ways of doing it that she describes.


I’ve done the flip and sew method using a sewing machine, but I haven’t touched my new Simple sewing machine in many months. I’d have to learn all over again how to use it. I’ve done the hand-basting method, which I prefer, but that takes longer. Since this was intended as just a practice cloth, to be filed away, I wanted to piece it quickly. That’s why I chose this method to try. It sounds so simple and easy.


For the fusible, I used Craft Fuse, which is light but firm, and cut a 9-inch square to serve as the foundation for my patches. Then I got out a stack of Karen South’s fabulous fancy fabric squares that she sells  in generous packages and selected the fabrics for the patches.

As instructed, I cut patches and arranged them on the fusible foundation, thus:


Then to the ironing. The edges of the patches that will be uppermost have to be iron-hemmed. I started with the corners, which I knew I wanted on top. Then I iron-hemmed the first patches on the left and found that I no longer remembered where they had been. Further, I couldn’t figure out how to get all the other edges hemmed and in place before ironing them to the fusible.

It was a mess. And it took all afternoon—twice as long as it would have taken me to baste. The result now measures 8 X 7 1/2 inches.


And, as you can see, I had to baste most of the edges anyhow. What a waste of time. Moreover, the corners are off-kilter. How did THAT happen?

Never again. It’s back to basting for me.

And will I even be able to stitch on this–no frame, no hoop?


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Isabeau’s visit

My Beau.

With Gram

At about 8:00 Thursday evening, Isabeau arrived at Charlestown, her parents, Caleb and Lauryth in tow. They had been met at the airport by Josh. (You know Josh by now.)

Until Saturday, I had them to myself. Well, not exactly, as we could not walk more than a few steps in the halls or enter an elevator without residents and staff stopping us to look at the baby and to talk. We visited Esther, about whose 100th birthday celebration in December I have yet to post. While Caleb and I held Isabeau and chatted, Lauryth, a trained swimmer, had her first swim post-partum. Dinner was at the Fireside, one of our Charlestown restaurants.  Nursing mother Lauryth, who needs to eat and who can’t tolerate sugar, was delighted with the food here. Always mashed potatoes and gravy available, and no-sugar desserts.

Saturday was crammed with visits. Son Steve, whom I’d persuaded to come from Colorado during Isabeau’s residency at Charlestown, and Great-granddad Skip arrived at 10:00. While Skip stayed with Isabeau

and family in their guest apartment, I had good one-on-one time with Steve. Then we all had lunch at the Shortline cafe. That afternoon I took Isabeau and her parents to the Care Center to visit Lorraine and June, who were, of course, thrilled by seeing the baby. As were all the residents and staff who saw us. That evening, Steve and Skip took the new family to son Pete’s house for dinner. (That’s where Noah lives, you may remember.)

On Sunday I hosted brunch for 17 people, all of Caleb’s East Coast relatives. Here we are, absent a cousin who arrived later.

East Coast family

Left to right: Pete with Noah, Steve Johns, Skip, Karin, Josh, Matt, me, Lauryth with Michael behind her, Carolyn, Caleb with Isabeau in the wonderful Moby, Anne, cousin Nancy Draper and her dad Steve Draper, Caleb’s uncle on his mother’s side.

As we waited for our table to be set up, gifts were presented. (The Moby really is a wonderful, low-tech way of carrying a baby. I carried grandson Caleb in one when he was less than a month old and looked just like Isabeau.)


From Michael’s family, a library of classic baby books, the ones Matt and Josh had most loved. As had Caleb and Lauryth.

Early classics

The Refectory staff did an outstanding job. I had told them I’d be bringing 12 people for brunch and asked if we could be seated together. But we unexpectedly became 17 people. Nevertheless, the staff moved tables together around which we were all seated.

Outside the Refectory as we waited: Michael, Anne, Carolyn, and Steve Johns.


Matt and Josh, who had come straight from pole vaulting practice, Michael in dark glasses because a bad cold had inflamed his eyes, Skip, Steve, and Carolyn.

Outside the Refectory

The Draper family: Nancy, Steve, Annie, and Barbara.

Draper family

Us, inside the Refectory. There were empty tables because it was near the end of brunch service. There were empty seats at our table because some of us were at the buffet.


At one end.

At one end

At the other end. At the other end

Skip, Steve Draper, Steve Johns, and Barbara.

Skip, Steve, and  Steve

It was impossible to get shots of everyone at the table, as people kept going back to the buffet.

Everyone got to hold the baby. Here’s Anne’s turn. She’s my daughter-in-love because she and Pete are no longer married.

Anne's turn

Then Pete took his turn. Anne and Pete’s children, Michelle and Luke, are now 20 and 18, and I just remembered, because they’re both at college, Isabeau did NOT meet all her East Coast relatives.

Anne and Pete

Steve’s turn.

Carolyn’s turn.

For 20  minutes or so, while Pete held Isabeau, Noah held on to Pete’s leg.

Noah and Pete

Finally, he decided to show some interest in Isabeau.

Noah and Isabeau

After brunch, Caleb and Lauryth got some play time in the pool, while Isabeau entertained Gram.

Isabeau smiling, a little smile.  She actually looked into my eyes and gave me an open-mouth, full smile. Caleb and Lauryth will testify.

Daddy’s girl.

Caleb is my first grandson. While Aly and Lilly are my great-granddaughters on Ernie’s side of the family, Isabeau is the first of her generation of Johnses.

Family portrait

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Keeping Noah

Last week I was responsible for five-year-old grandson Noah Friday evening and all day Saturday.


Fortunately, the weather was good—bright sunshine all day Saturday, so we were able to be outdoors. In the morning, we moved a lot of snow.

IMG_0740 IMG_0741IMG_0742

If I had given Noah the camera, I would be able to show me loading another vehicle with snow.

In the afternoon we played bumper cars, as I pushed one of his ride-on cars and he bumped into it riding his latest hot-rod.IMG_0736

In this picture you can plainly see their hot tub on the deck.

At 8:00 Saturday night all four of us were in the hot tub, in pitch black darkness, looking up into bright stars–without bathing suits! A first for me, and only because it really was DARK. Ah, did that feel good. And without a bathing suit, the cold air doesn’t chill you when you get out of the tub.

So many new experiences!

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Diamond novice

Diamond novice

Originally uploaded by jowynnjohns

Although I knew about Sharon’s 2010 TAST challenge, I had no thought of participating. From several friends I heard how eager they were to begin the challenge. Today, after seeing postings by two friends of their experiments with the diamond stitch, of which I’d never heard, I went to the TAST website and saw the instructions for making the stitch. Then I simply couldn’t resist finding a piece of Aida and trying it.

Looks like I’m into the TAST challenge again!

Since I’m really, really into my black jacket project, we’ll see how much time I spend experimenting with new stitches.

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Three shapes filled

Three shapes filled

Originally uploaded by jowynnjohns

Three to go. I have the silk ribbon I need and I’ve ordered the copper pearl purl. I had just a few inches more than enough to outline these finished shapes.

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