Connie’s Dirty Dozen

Wow! What a response we got from the UFO game post! We ALL have these unfinished projects – Connie and I, too – so I’ll explain more about this game in this post.

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Between now and July 1 find 12 of your unfinished projects. Number them in bags, boxes, or whatever numbers 1 – 12. On the first of each month Connie (or Reed or Becky) will draw a number out of the hat and I will announce that number. You find the corresponding unfinished project and finish it before the first of the next month.

Someone asked about what constitutes “finished “. That will depend on you. If I finish a project but can’t get it quilted because my machine quilter is booked up, I’d still consider that “finished”. Maybe you want to impose stricter guidelines on yourself especially if you’re doing the quilting. Maybe you want it quilted, bound and washed before the end of the month. Better yet! Whatever works for you!

You’ll have nearly 3 weeks to locate and number your Dirty Dozen. This is a fun game and we used to play it when we had the quilt shop. If you put your mind to it, by next year you’ll have 12 new quilts! If you don’t quilt and do a lot of needlework instead, the same rules apply.

I can try and post everyone’s finished projects all in one post if you think that would be fun. The only thing I can’t do is keep track of everybody’s name with their project UNLESS – here’s an idea! I’m thinking and typing at the same time. You could put a large card with your name on it and pin it to the quilt so it would be included in your photo! How about that? Okay – so you finish your project, write your name on a large card and pin to the quilt. Take a picture and send it to my email If you don’t want your full name on the card, that’s OK, too. The Dirty Dozen is getting to be more fun all the time, isn’t it?

I honestly think I’ve thought of all potential questions but if not, please ask and I’ll answer in the comments. PLEASE read the comments so that you’ll know the answer before you send me the same question.


Don’t forget Minnesota Quilters next Thursday, June 13 at 1:00 in the food court area. I’ll have a sign to direct you to our group. It will be so fun to meet people that I’ve become to know through the comments! We can answer questions at that time also so be prepared.

Yesterday I attended the “party” for Roger Kramer in Waucoma, IA, which I will write about in another post. If you follow Jo’s Country Junction you’ll want to read this.

When I talked about my favorite quilts in Susan Ache’s new book “Countdown To Christmas” I believe one of the quilts was pictured twice and one didn’t get pictured at all – right? Here’s my very favorite quilt in the book and the one I hope to start very soon. You know how much I like red and white quilts!

And here’s a question for you – is this just a geographical phenomena here in North Iowa this year? Millions of maple helicopters everywhere! I will have to start raking and sweeping them up. Is it because of our severe winter? Or is it a preview of our winter to come? Please – anybody with thoughts on this mess!

Have any of you received an odd message from me in the past few days? It seems that I, too, have been hacked and blackmailed in the amount of $1400. Somehow this person got my password when I was “watching” a porn video and this blackmailer threatened to send it to all my contacts. Grrrr….. I certainly wasn’t watching a porn video but last night when I got home from Waucoma I had to spend hours changing all my passwords. Why, oh why, are there so many dishonest people in the world who don’t want to work but instead threaten others for money?

Kathy finished her red and white charm 9 patch – it’s great, isn’t it? And a perfect quilt for straight line quilting.

I’m sitting in the porch listening to the birds singing – the orioles are still here but the grosbeaks have moved on as well as most of the goldfinches. The farmer is raking the alfalfa in our field south of the barn and soon it will smell glorious. Speaking of smell however, my Korean lilac bush is in full bloom and the air is lovely with the fragrance!

I’ll catch up around here and report later. I’m going to go look for my Dirty Dozen!

69 thoughts on “Connie’s Dirty Dozen

  1. Peggy S

    Hi Mary. . . In regard to the maple helicopters. . . Been in this house over 50 years. . . Have NEVER, EVER, seen so many!! Not sure if it’s a sign of something to come or what, but it sure is a “Royal Mess!!” Been scooping them up by the shovels full!!

    1. sheryl

      i was going to say i’ve been in my home 20 years but peggy s has me beat! i have NEVER EVER seen maple seed like this. with all the rain, they don’t even wash off my driveway. i finally blew them in a pile w/ my leaf blower to dispose of. also with all the rain, i have 10000 tiny maple leaves.

    1. Mary Lund

      Love the idea of Dirty dozen. Hoping it will get some long overdue UFO’s complete. Letting my friends know too. Thanks

  2. Meta

    Maple helicopters – when I was a kid we would open them up & stick them on our noses! No idea why, funny. 😁

    1. Sue in PA

      We did, too, and I grew up in Brooklyn, New York! We called them Polly noses (no idea why).

  3. Susie Q

    helicopters are sign of stress…. tree is putting out many more seeds to insure it is replaced……. I think it is from the conditions of the past… be it cold or way more rain than usual…..

    You are super to have gone to Roger’s “party”. I look forward to your post.

  4. Janice

    So sorry that you were hacked, Mary. I think it’s just terrible that we have to worry about such things. The sad part is that there are so many people who are fooled by these low life’s. Wow! That is a LOT of maple helicopters! My trees aren’t shedding them yet but I’ll have to notice if there are more than usual when they do. I’m already scouting out projects that need finishing touches for the Dirty Dozen game. This is a great idea! Kathy’s quilt is awesome! I’m working on a pinwheel one. Lots of half square triangles. Jan in MA

  5. Kris Gavin

    Yep, those helicopters are crazy this year… love Kathy’s 9 patch… beautifully made and quilted and the white binding… I never thought of a white binding… Wish I was a Minnesota quilter so I could meet you all in the food court… have fun!

  6. Barb B.

    Can all of our trees be stressed? We too have thousands growing little trees everywhere. My husband has had a fun time cleaning out the gutters more than once. I enjoy your blog and just started reading it when Jo mentioned it on her blog. I’m glad you went to Roger’s party.

  7. Charlotte S.

    I’m in on the Dirty Dozen. Great idea. I remember those maple helicopters when my dad had maple trees but never that many. Love Kathy’s red and white nine patch.

  8. Kelli

    Here in NE Ohio the helicopters are terrible! We have raked and cleaned and raked again! Still everywhere. Love the game idea – will give it some thought! Thanks for always making us laugh and for being transparent. 🙂

  9. debby

    I’m in Virginia and we also have SO many maple seeds this year. I am gathering and numbering my projects to play along and am excited to finish even more projects. I make quilt tops and my 82 year old mother in Mississippi hand quilts them, it’s her very favorite thing to do in the winter. I visited last month and picked up 3 quilts and 2 table toppers that she finished, so I made 3 more quilt tops while I was there that she will work on as she wants.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Debby – you are a lucky gal to have a mom who loves to hand quilt!

    2. Teresa

      Debbie, that is so wonderful that you and your Mom can make quilts together. That’s a special bond you share.

  10. Marsha from Kansas

    Thanks so much for the explanation of the “rules” of the game so I don’t break them and to play fairly. Now to narrow it down to 12! I’m going to include both projects to get ready for my LAQ for next year and some projects I want to quilt myself and get completely finished. I had heard of this game before but didn’t realize it was possibly from you and Connie!

    I know what is first on my list. I have been working on Bonnie Hunter’s rail fence checkerboard quilt that I think was her leader-ender project 2 years ago? The first two rows are on my design wall and have been for some time. Somewhere along the line I didn’t press something correctly even though I tried real hard and on these first two rows I had to “repress” what seemed like many seams. Do you have a suggestion for making that easier? I press the seam flat again and then try to repress it the opposite direction. Then things don’t lay as flat as I would like. Anyway, I would love to get all 13 rows put together! Plus have my design wall back again! Now – which number is going to be drawn first??? This is a fun game, isn’t it?

    I have many “lists”. I took a class #1 for Microsoft Excel several years ago to learn the basics and the first thing I thought to use my new-found knowledge for was to make a quilt list. There were so many projects (Have I ever said I used to work in a fabric store?), I’m not admitting how many. Let’s just say I decided I need to have “sublists”. I will send you a sample of my “template” when I get my 12 projects picked out. Another Sublist to create!! 🙂 I have learned you can just rename an already-made document in Excel and erase everything in the cells and not have to completely start from scratch making the template. 🙂

    We have lots of the helicopters, too, from our neighbor’s tree.

  11. Karen

    What in the world are “MALE HELICOPTERS”? I’d not heard that term ever before! Helicopter planes and helicopter parents but not what you show!

    1. Jane Dumler

      We haven’t seen a huge outbreak of helicopters here in Colorado but the cold spring has the cottonwood trees not throwing much cotton—this is a blessing.
      We did the “dirty dozen” with one of our quilting groups several years ago. It was fun. I am scouring for the 12 now. Look forward to getting this started.
      This is my favorite time of year—just had lunch on the patio enjoying the sun and clear blue sky.

  12. Bobbie Casey

    I’m excited about the dirty dozen & look forward to participating! Loved it when you did it @ the quilt shop! My daughter is getting married next June & I’m making “basket” to fill with goodies for the out of town guest, will include some of those every month!

    I live in Clear Lake & noticed a lot of the helicopters around, places I haven’t seen them before.

  13. Caryn Goulden

    I’m in for the Dirty dozen! At the rate of 12 a year it will take more than 2 years for me to finish. I will pick out the 12 I like best, maybe a few I can double up on.
    Here in Eastern Washington my maple trees are also churning out tons of helicopters. We didn’t have a particularly severe winter, but we did get a few warm spells followed by cold. Not sure if that has anything to do with more helicopters, but I think that unusual warming and then back down to very cold is what killed my white lilac this winter.

  14. Pat Williams

    We too have commented on the large number of helicopters—or as sometimes called here, whirligigs. A couple of weeks ago we raked up enough to nearly fill a yard waste bag. They are everywhere and now we have a crop of little trees growing everywhere in the yard, flower pots, just everywhere! We don’t ever recall this many in the past and don’t really know why so many this year. Maybe it is stress as mentioned earlier. So sorry to hear about getting hacked. It is such a pain to have to change everything. We have had to do that a few times. Just not sure what fun there is in doing that to someone. Always enjoy hearing from you, Mary.

  15. Beth Laverty

    Lots of “helicopters” here. Got to get them raked up or I will be pulling up lots of little Maple Trees soon. I am slowly getting my projects pulled out and numbered. One is simple, a set of place mats. A couple of runners. I have only two needlework projects And three full size quilts. 8 projects so far but I know there are more!!!!

  16. Carol

    We, too, in Western New York, have very little helicopters everywhere… my terrace is carpeted with them. Yesterday I noticed nature’s perfect solution.., get yourselves some chipmunks, folks!
    Now, I confess to hating chipmunks much of the time, but I enjoyed watching one yesterday making short order of vast quantities of the seed. By the time he was done vacuuming them up his cheeks were twice as wide as his butt!
    Why I hate chipmunks: they cause too much damage, tunneling under stairs and along foundations and close to shrubbery. A new bush put in last year is breathing its last, I found tunneling circling the base. They’re cute until they cost me $. Then it’s time for traps. I will, however, keep him going a few more days as he is earning his keep eating those helicopters, and saving the bulk for “later”!

  17. Nikki M in Tx

    Maple helicopters ? What are they ? Never heard of them.
    My husband used to joke that we had “the bug of the year”.
    One year crickets were so bad businesses in town had to sweep the sidewalks before opening, and last two years the Japanese beetles ( look like lady bugs ) have been awful..& they smell bad…army worms & so many more.
    Already gathered 5 projects & that is without opening a closet or cabinet or drawer…(do you think I have a problem?).

    1. Paula N.

      I live in Texas also. First this Spring it was army worms (caterpillars), now tent caterpillars and web worms. Yuck! Oh, and with all the rain we’ve been getting – mosquitoes!
      Looking for 12 UFOs is a good reason to stay inside.

  18. another Mary

    My husband was contacted with the same blackmail scam a few months ago. Both the local police and the IT department where he works were very familiar with this one – apparently it’s a common scam. He was the third person to contact IT that day.

    Their advice was to ignore it and change all the passwords.

    We think we may have been exposed in one of the security breaches from a large company that should have known and done better.

    If you haven’t already done so, contact your sheriff and whoever provides your internet service.

  19. Susan the Farm Quilter

    The only “porn” you would watch would be quilting videos or gardening videos!! Those who know you would know the idea of you watching anything else is insane!! Don’t worry about that, but it is a good reminder for everyone to change their passwords regularly…I’m awful about that! I don’t have that many UFOs with me, but I’m willing to play along with what I have!! We could also use a watermark on our pictures to make it easier to keep track of whose picture is whose. I always put my blog name and the year on my pictures I post…makes it easier for me to keep track of them.

  20. mary jane

    Oh spring and it messes….wait til the May Flies arrive…they are yucky…I use to live in the Lake Pepin area in WI and when they arrive EVERYTHING turns black, they cover lamp posts, cars, gas stations take a real hit…they have called out the snowplows in RedWing, Mn to clean off the bridge…
    I love games and I need to be motivated. So this game, Dirty Dozen, will be so helpful..I went to the Dollar Store and bought large plastic bags, JUMBO SIZE, 2.5 gallon. There are 5 bags in a box, I bought 4 boxes for $4.00’s. I keep my projects, with thread, patterns and etc in them. mark them and stand them up in a large plastic tote box. I can keep them in one place, grab one to take along whenever…so I await the first drawing of the numbers…
    Again Mary for your wonderful blog,

  21. Tanya T.

    When I worked the reference desk at a public library, an older woman came in to use the computers. She needed help finding something and in talking with her, we found we were both quilters. “You know,” she whispered, “you really have to be careful on the Internet when you search quilting words. I put in ‘Dutch dolls’ at home and it was NOT quilts that came up!”

  22. Launa

    Mary, I started a list right away..I call it my Dusty Dozen. How fun. Need to look for one more, but that shouldn’t be difficult!

    Up here @ 5800 feet we may get SNOW this big new storm!

  23. Marlene T, NY

    Hi Mary,
    I live in upstate NY and we have tons of the Maple helicopters. They are stuck on the windshield wipers too, and make such a mess when you try to spray and use the wipers. My son’s driveway is totally covered with them. He’s going to use the leaf blower to get rid of them. When we walked home from school we used to open them and wear them on our noses. Glad to know we weren’t the only ones.
    I’m all for doing the Dirty Dozen. Whatever it takes to get caught up is great. I used to do that with Jo Morton stitchers on Yahoo but that is no longer used online. It is a great incentive when everyone else is doing the same thing. I am just putting the binding on a homespun quilt for my Grandson’s birthday and I used the straight line stitching for the quilting. I really like the look and will try to send a picture soon. Well I’m off to the sewing room to find some UFO’s to bag up. Have a good evening.

  24. Diane Bauer

    I haven’t seen the helicopters around as much this year (Colorado—See Jane noted the same above) but remember on walks last year being awed by a neighbor’s tree that was thick with them. Stress makes sense!

    Kathy’s charm quilt is beautiful! I love all of the different shades of red!

  25. Patricia

    Dirty Dozen, I think it just might be the game that will get my UFOs finished! Thanks

  26. Diane, Squeak's Mom

    In Central Ohio, we have those Maple Helicopters, too. My husband said he mowed down hundreds of little Maple trees this afternoon. It’s odd that it seems to be all over the country. Mary, I totally agree about people that spend their time disrupting others’ lives by hacking computers. That is so nasty. UGH.
    The man for whom I made a QOV was featured at the Columbus Veterans Memorial service and on all three Columbus TV stations. He’s 97, and was a parachutist in the 82nd Airborne that landed at Normandy in the wee hours before the invasion. He is sharp as a tack and so is his wife.
    I am working on my Dirty Dozen. It’ll be fun. Thanks, Mary.

  27. Tina in Oregon

    I think it my be hard to pick just 12 from the many UFO’s in my sewing room! It’s a great idea though and look forward to getting started! It’s also a good time to get rid of (give away) any unfinished projects I don’t care for anymore.
    We don’t have the maple helicopters here in eastern Oregon but we did have a lot of cottonwood fuzz everywhere. Lately it’s been very windy with a big dust storm last evening. Someone said when that happens, the farmers are just trading dirt! I’m sure they’d rather not.

  28. Rhoda Ebersole

    Jay says do you have a good antiviral program installed on your computer?

  29. Linda Rouse

    Here in southern WI, the helicopters are normal. But if you just rub against a pine tree it’s a cloud of pollen.

    So glad you were able to attend Roger’s party? I teared up every time I read their journey blog. Their family is very strong and careing. They will get through this. It just happened so fast. My mom has had liver cancer for 5 years. We just met with her Oncologist today and he found a spot in her lung. Too small to biopsy but all I kept thinking was Roger’s journey. CT scan in 3 months to see if it grew at all. Doc said not to worry but how can you not worry?

  30. Barbk

    I can’t wait for the Dirty Dozen game. Jo had done this several years ago and it really motivated me to get 12 UFO’s done that year!! We have a zillion maple helicopters. My husband said it is a sign of a good corn harvest which I don’t understand as we still don’t have all our corn in!!

  31. Karla T.

    Hi Mary– I did your UFO challenge years back also– that was a productive year! Since then I keep a list on my sewing table of things I want to finish. It helps when you have it staring at you all the time.
    I am looking forward to doing the challenge again! I love Kathy’s red/white 9 patch too– so simple, but so wonderful! I am curious about the maple seeds on the noses?
    was it to make it look like you had a mustache or something?

  32. Charlotte S.

    I have my dirty dozen ready but I think I could easily do the 24 month plan. I had a quilter friend that moved to Idaho and didn’t want to take all her UFOs so she gave them to me knowing I would probably finish them. I’ll be so glad to finish hers and mine.

  33. Paula Philpot

    We have alot of those maple helicopters here too. I forgot they were called that. Anxious to hear “what the ol wives tale” is about these. Paula in KY

  34. Norma

    I did participate a couple of years when you did the Dirty dozen at the shop. I’ll try again. I have so much. Glad you could go to Roger’ s celebration of life. Great family.

  35. Joyce

    Looking forward to the dirty dozen. I have many more than a dozen, but this will help me get motivated, love your blog!

  36. Sunflower

    We have lots of helicopters here in Michigan, too, this spring. I was watching my one year old great-niece while her daddy helped my son and husband put the dock in at our sons house tonight. His driveway was loaded with them. She picked up lots to put in a bucket. So someone is enjoying them!
    I love that you’re calling this game the dirty dozen! Looking forward to joining in. Thanks.

  37. Kathy Hanson

    I have started getting together my Dirty Dozen projects for the game. 10 of them are picked out, a couple are small bags that I want to finish, probably should put at least 2 together to use it for one of the months!
    Looking forward to getting them done and it will be fun to see what everyone does!
    I remember “helicopters” when I had Maples in our yard. We don’t have any now so I am not seeing all that seem to be falling this year! Looking forward to the Minnesota Quilt show!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kathy Hanson – just want to make sure you got my message about coming to your house since it seems the first one didn’t reach you. Do you want to leave your house before 9? Or should we be there earlier?

  38. Sue in Oregon

    Looks like you have a winner with your Dirty Dozen game. I will be organizing mine very soon. I like the idea of getting large bags at the dollar store. Some projects won’t fit in the smaller bags.
    Kathy’s quilt is beautiful. My nine patches will need to be one of the projects. Right now I must finish quilting my Challenge Quilt for our quilt show on the 4th of July.
    Those maple helicopters are amazing. My Goodness, they are just thick and everywhere. We have two Japanese Maples and I don’t think they make helicopters. Good.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sue in Oregon – soft maples grow wherever those helicopters land so I’m thinking I’ll blow them into the grass and mow them instead of trying to sweep them up. Be very thankful you don’t have them!

  39. Felicia Hamlin

    That little quilt is cute! Yes, Mary, we have lots of helicopters too. I am trying to decide about the dirty dozen. I am really a slow person and I waste my time in many ways, love to read blogs and see what other people are doing, ha, ha. But that is my fun, not watching porn videos like someone I know. Mary, i had to poke fun at you, it is so disgusting that some slimy people do things like this to people who are simply minding their business. I have fallen behind on my little blocks, they are slow to make and when I don’t understand what is going on, it takes me forever.

    Take care, Mary.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Felicia Hamlin – too funny! Please don’t put the pressure on yourself to play the Dirty Dozen – just work at your own pace because it won’t be any fun if you’re feeling guilty about doing other things. I love to read other blogs, too, and can get lost for many hours just reading. Are you going to the quilt show in Rochester next week?

  40. Bonnie McKee

    I’m gathering my dirty dozen projects! This should be fun! Thanks Connie and Mary for organizing a fun way for us to complete some UFOs!

  41. Janine

    I’m in on the Dirty Dozen! I think it must have been mentioned at Quilt Camp one year, because we joined in and it really worked – I finished a lot of projects. At the beginning of 2019, I made three lists: quilt tops partially complete (over 30!), those I’d gathered fabric for but hadn’t started, and quilts I wanted to begin. I’m plowing through it all, but the Dirty Dozen will really help me prioritize. Thanks to you and Connie!

  42. Tammy Guerrero

    I’m here in Indiana. The maple helicopters aren’t bad this year. It seems every other year it’s bad. We just dont have very many, I’m in the process of taking them out of our garden. If I dont, we have trees growing. I’m ready to cut down some maple trees!

  43. Meredith

    Love the dirty dozen idea. Might do a combination of quilt or cross stitch project. Certainly lots to choose from! Thanks for this fun idea.

  44. Andi

    Hi Mary!
    We haven’t had the Maple Helicopters yet, but holy moly have we had yellow pollen clouds.
    Thanks so much for posting about Roger Kramers party. Wondered how they all are doing, and continue to keep them in my prayers.
    Now – to get going on finding those dirty dozen projects and get the list made – – –

  45. Moe Baly

    Hi Mary, Our big maple tree was trimmed couple years ago so may as many helicopters as we could hVe had. They are a pain to clean up and pull when they grow along the foundation and other places we can’t mow.

    I love the color red so red & white quilts are too of my list. I have two in the works. I’ll join your Dirty Dozen game for sure. Since my sister Geri retired she’s been doing it on her own, she’s been finishing one quilt a month for at least 18 months now.

    At work the scams are tremendous, I’ve trained myself to spot them. We don’t have IT so we have to stop both email scams and credit card scams on our own. Sometime 2 or 3 a day. It’s a business to the scammers.

    Jay and I just came back from Mackinac Island to celebrate my being cancer-free. Nice on the island. Feeling very good.

    Enjoy your weekend on the farm.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Moe Baly – and what a celebration it must have been! So very happy you’re now cancer free!

  46. Shirley

    I can’t wait for July 1st to start the dirty dozen. Fingers crossed I can keep motivated with everyone’s help. Love your idea, thank you.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Shirley – you don’t have to wait till July 1 – you could start now on one of the UFO’s!

  47. KathyG from Oak Creek

    I am looking forward to working the “dirty dozen”. At first I thought I did not have enough unfinished projects to qualify and after I looked over my sewing room, I found 1 quilt that needed binding, 2 quilts that need to be longarmed, 3 quilts that need backing, 1 table runner that needs backing, and many unfinished quilt tops – including my unfinished bullseye! I will number them this week so I am ready. Thank you for doing this.

  48. Cheri

    I will pick 12 projects… the first one should be to finish organizing my sewing room! Haha! Maybe I can do that until July 1, which is a holiday here in Alberta, Canada. I better take my sewing machine along on any camping we do!

  49. Teresa in Port Coquitlam

    We had so many maple helicopters both last year and this year. I would love to know why. Believe it or not I only have 1 UFO, a baby quilt I am working on But how about the projects , with the fabric sitting in a pile and the pattern on top, waiting to be started… I guess that would be another dirty dozen game lol. Thank you for your inspiration and sharing your busy life. I always enjoy reading your posts.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Teresa in Port C – why don’t you join the game with any small projects on your “to do” list? Or give yourself two months for a bigger project. Where is Port Coquitlam? I spent nearly all day Monday and certainly all my energy cleaning up helicopters off the roof and then consequently on the ground.

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