Let’s Go Along With Connie!

Connie is teaching on a Stitchin Heaven Caribbean cruise this week and she has already sent me some pictures from her class! So, come along, and we’ll watch from home!

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Best of All from Beyond The Battlefield is the quilt they are making.

Here are pictures of some beginning blocks – some are using the kit from Stitchin Heaven and others brought their own fabric. If you have questions about this cruise experience, please ask Connie in the comments and she will answer from the ship.

This quilt block has lots of pieces – how many, Connie?

I wonder how many are in her class?

And then there’s the renegade in the class – isn’t there always one who sees things differently? But I love her block so far!

If any of the gals in the class want to chime in on the comments, I think that would be fun! So, Readers, be diligent about checking the comments this week.


And now for my day. I looked for pictures of Buckwheat and Alfalfa and simply could not believe my eyes when I saw the date of their birthday – March 12, 2002!!! I do remember the day exactly because our high school boys BB team was playing in the state tournament. Please correct me if I’m wrong – anybody from Garner.

Here they are 3 weeks old.

And 6 months old.

Their mom, Janney, named for Jan Patek, died the following October from unknown causes. So today I drove the tractor down the road to the south end of our property with Alfalfa in the loader bucket.

It’s a miracle that the fields, ditches and lawns are actually turning green!

Bill dug a hole, I put Alfalfa in the hole and he filled in the hole.

I said a little prayer and told Bill I’d be calling him again since I still have 10 goats. He went on to another farm place who needed a draft horse buried, a lot bigger hole than Alfalfa needed.

And this is what I’m working on – string blocks on newspaper foundations. As I’ve been cutting all the strips from my scraps, the little pieces and the odd pieces went into another container and I’m slowly but surely making blocks.

Late at night when I can start sewing I watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Videos. Finished Mrs. Maisel – I loved it – now I’m watching Hanna.

But tonight is the National Championship and I won’t miss a minute of it. By tomorrow I’ll have basketball withdrawal. And we’ll wait for more pictures from the cruise ship!

52 thoughts on “Let’s Go Along With Connie!

  1. Janice

    I’d love to be on that cruise! But, I don’t think I would ever be organized enough! The pictures of the goats are precious. We had pygmy goats many years ago. A brother and sister. The brother was supposed to have been “fixed” but lo and behold, his little sister was pregnant and had the tiniest little kid! That was a fun time. Love little goats. It’s so nice to have friends with large equipment, isn’t it? How much land do you own, Mary?

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Janice – we own 9.6 acres or thereabouts- the field south of the barn is 3 acres of of alfalfa and the rest is buildings and grove. Seemed fitting to bury Alfalfa in the alfalfa field.

  2. Michele

    Yes the G-H boys basketball team went to state in 2002. Played Danville in the Class 2A championship game. Lost 52-51 with a crazy, never should has rolled in- shot by Jake Wenig. How’s that for a memory?? 🙁

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Michele – I was quite sure I had the date right and yes, I, too, remember that shot! Sad for the boys on that team.

  3. Susie Q

    Had to bury my Emilio and chose the front yard. I miss that dog and it has been a month……… sewing gets my mind off it for a while.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Susie Q – I love his name – Emilio! What a nice ring – what kind of dog was he? How old? Do you have other dogs?

  4. Kathy Zuehl

    I have always wanted to go on one of those quilting cruises…maybe some day. So sorry for your loss Mary. You give your animals the best life there is. <3

  5. Kathy in western NY

    Sewing strings is so therapeutic after what you’ve been through. I hope you see a dent in your pile cause I never do! Great pictures of the sewers with Connie. I am on vacation in SC….but reading the comments is good in many ways. I remember reading in your comments from a lady who lived near the proposed expansion of the chicken farm. I had told my husband about it not knowing where she lived and he sympathized with her but didn’t we see on the local news this morning that the governor was coming in to a town near here to discuss the expansion so now I am anxious to know how this develops out for your reader.

  6. Pat Smith

    I love that we’re going to get to see what Connie is doing on the cruise. Where is it going? I went with Stitchin Heaven a few years ago to Sisters Oregon for their wonderful outdoor quilt show, and Stitchin Heaven did a great job. I’ve never been on one of their cruises. I feel sad about Alfalfa, but know he isn’t suffering any more. Such cute pictures of them as babies. He was lucky to live a long life with a caring owner..

  7. Martha

    Mary ~~ You’ve been Bonnie Hunterized! Love that you are sewing string blocks and cutting up your leftovers into use-able units. I think scraps multiply in the overnight.

  8. Kathy Hanson

    First of all, I’m sure that you must have shed some tears as you put Alfalfa in the hole and said a prayer. I just said a prayer for him but mostly for you as it is so hard to lose our precious animals!!
    What fun to go on a cruise and have someone teach you a quilt from a pattern that she and you have made and put into a book!!! They must be having a ball! Love the pictures and will think of them having all that fun and making such beautiful blocks. YES – on to the basketball championship game! I am with you, will be having basketball withdrawal too! Looking forward to Rochester Senior basketball player that is #7 in the country to tell us all where he will go to be on a college team, April 19th the day before his birthday!!!

      1. Diane Bauer

        John Marshall is my alma mater!!! Ohhhhh. Way back when!! We were a hockey school in those days. I remember going to Mpls for the State Championships and we won!

  9. jan VanDeWalle

    Have a book for the reading list, It was inspired by the Coffee Creek Quilting group that teaches quilting to ladies incarcerated at Coffee Creek Women’s Prison
    the book : Hope On The Inside by Marie Bostwick I have not read it yet.
    Was in the Coffee Creek blog this morning.

    1. Rosalie

      I just finished that book and it was good but I enjoyed her previous books more – the others were about a quilt shop owner.

  10. Martha Engstler Gettysburg

    The baby goats are so dear. It must be so much fun to go on a quilting cruise . I wonder what cruise line do they go on?

  11. Sue in Oregon

    Looks like each person has plenty of sewing space. Important when you have lots of stuff.
    The blocks are so pretty. The two on the next to last photo are laying on something interesting. What is that? It will be so fun to see more of the cruise.
    Baby goats are the cutest! Those little twins were adorable.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sue in Oregon – got your package – contents are proof that I make no bones about what I love to collect! Haha! A sweet little white dog to join my other white dogs – I’ll take a picture of my pack some day. Thank you so much, Sue!

  12. Suzanne Beech

    So sorry for the loss of your precious animal. Such a long time for a goat!
    I have never thought of newspaper for string blocks. Are you worried that the newsprint will come off on the fabric?
    Such beautiful quilts. Wish i was retired so i could quilt all day!!!

  13. Karen Comottor

    Love string piecing. I have been on a mission to plow through my stash and scraps. My question ladies, what do you do with all the small pieces of fabric when squaring up each block. Hate to throw away. Any ideas?. Pin cushions come to mind, but need more suggestions. Thanks

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Karen Comottor – just mailed out your order! You could continue to put all small stuff in a pillowcase and when it’s full you’d have a dog bed.

  14. Mrs. Goodneedle

    I have always thought that a quilting cruise would be the best of the best; but, then, I think about packing up all the necessities for sewing that would need organizing and packing and I think again; especially as I get older and need more and better lighting! I much prefer living vicariously through pictures and am thoroughly enjoying seeing Connie’s class and their blocks this way. 😉 I am sure this was a hard day of saying goodbye. He was such a tiny little 🐐 17 years ago; what a great life he lived! Your string blocks look happy; I, too, love sewing with strips and watching TV! A scrappy, happy life!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Mrs. Goodneedle – what if a Bernina machine was provided and you could buy a pre-cut kit? Would you change your mind?

  15. Tanya T.

    Mary, How big are your newspaper squares? I realize that they can be any size, but what size do you cut? Maybe it’s time for an Alfalfa quilt? Sorry about your loss, but had to laugh at being buried in a namesake field!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Tanya T – my papers are cut 6” x 6”. Yes, Alfalfa is pleased, I think!

  16. Betty Klosterman

    Mary, when you are sewing the strips to newspapers, do you press them on the newspaper? Does the ink come off on the fabric when you press?
    That sewing on the ship sounds like a lot of fun but , yes, it would be quite a bit to get it all packed along with your own clothing, etc. And you couldn’t run to the store if you need more. When we sew at the church we don’t have to take our toothbrush. It will be so great to see what each lady is making and especially their color choices. Their colors are so inspiring especially to somebody who has a problem with colors.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Betty K – I have not noticed ink coming off the newsprint and yes, I press both sides. Bernina sewing machines are furnished for everyone on the cruise and a precut kit is available. Stitchin Heaven is a huge quilt shop and they have an on-ship store as well!

  17. Kate

    We usually have had big dogs and I always worried what we would do with the bodies when they died. My husband has buried a few, the vet took one and one year I knew our old dog would not last much longer, but it was getting into Winter so my husband dug the hole, just in case. That hole stayed there until the following Spring when she passed away. My son-in-law got a good laugh about our pre-dug dog hole.

    1. Joyce

      Kate… I have done this too with a senior dog. Even put some buckets of dirt in the basement from the hole. Sure enough… right before Christmas Max took a tie for the worse. I was glad I’d dug that hole!! We just plan ahead!

  18. Diane in Central Ohio

    Baby Buckwheat and Baby Alfalfa are just toooo cute:) I am sorry Alfalfa is gone. I remember him from the Goat Gazettes and I remember beautiful Emma.
    I have heard good things about the Stichin’ Heaven cruises. Someday…. Another beautiful day here–68 degrees, no rain, and very nice.
    Three little Harveys are almost finished, then Bullseye. I did make a neat Spring quilt, cleaned out some fabric for our Guild yard sale (need to do MORE), and finished my Raggedy Shaggedy thousand year old quilt–well not quite a thousand years, but OLD. Will watch bball tonight and do bindings:)

  19. Judy

    Do you have to provide your own sewing machine on the cruise or will one be provided? I’m sure that would be an extra charge, but it would sure simplify traveling.

  20. Dianne M Cook

    Hi Mary So sorry to hear about Alfalfa. He did have a good life and you were able to bury him at home. So wonderful to have friends with big equipment to help with the end. We were lucky to have a friend help when we buried our last dog several years and happy to know she is in the area she loved to chase rabbits in. Our new shepherd, has settle in wonderfully, even with our ten year old cat. This is our second rescue dog in the past fifteen years and we have been so lucky.
    Sharing Connie’s trip is wonderful of you both. I’m afraid I’m an arm chair traveler now and
    enjoy seeing all the lovely places others travel too.
    You and Reed certainly keep busy and enjoy yourselves. He certainly has become a great quilter.
    I had some great news today. My surgeon has been trying to move my surgery date up to April 12th and has succeeded .
    Thank you for all your well wishes from you and lots of blog followers. Received over twenty
    cards from the US and Canada.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Dianne Cook – oh my goodness – April 12! I’ll be thinking of you!

  21. Brenda archambault

    I had to laugh at your precise measurement of acreage. When my son moved to Montana ( from a chicago city lot) I asked my grandson who was in kindergarten at the time, how much snow did you get? He answered “well, we have 8 and 1/2 acres, you know.”
    Can’t believe how quickly everything is greening up. Almost time to till the fields.

  22. B. J. Berlo

    I had to chuckle at the phrase “there’s one in every class”! I taught quilting for over 35 years and, indeed, that person was in every class. It never bothered me. That’s how stars are born! They are usually very creative people and don’t do well with instruction. We all don’t work the same way and new ideas are always welcome.

  23. Elizabeth Schrader

    Mary, I love that we will be able to see Connie’s Class on the ship! That was always something I wanted to do but has not happened. I love my sewing room and have more than one project going at once like all quilters. I am still working on putting borders on my Bullseye quilt and have another top finished and need to get it to the long-armed quilter. It is a big one. Next will be a College Soriety T-Shirt Quilt for my granddaughter for a graduate school graduation next spring. If I didn’t play bridge four times a week, I would have more time to QUILT! It is so hard to lose a pet — I am on my 4th doxie and they have all been like one of my kids.
    Liz in Dallas

  24. Diane from Tennessee

    Mary, thank you for sharing pictures from Connie’s cruise. I have been on a stitchin heaven’s quilting cruise. It was fun and they have great teachers. They think of everything. I love reading about all of your adventures. You share so much of yourself. You are a remarkable woman.

  25. Rita M in CT

    One in every class Lol! That was me in a weekend retreat I attended with Eleanor Burns as the instructor. The group made a tulip wall hanging and I made a king size bed quilt. I tend to march to my own drum. I have the tulip quilt on my bed now and I still love it.
    I lost one of my dogs last week he is the only one not buried in the back yard. We had him cremated.
    The baby goat pictures are so cute. My Aunt loves goats and has always had several for as long as I can remember. If you decide to make copies of Louise and friends pattern I would love to buy a copy to make a quilt for my Aunt. She celebrated her 89 birthday in February.
    Have to get ready for class I teach quilting every Tuesday morning. The class has been ongoing for 8 years and I still look forward to teaching every week.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Rita M in CT – I’m so sorry you lost a dog – which one and what happened, old age, an accident? Yes, every time I’ve ever taken a class or taught a class, there was always somebody who marched to a different drummer and I always sort of admired and was envious of their bravery. I need to look into the Louise pattern. Did you know we have a goat sampler pattern? I’ll take a picture and post it for everybody. What are you making in class?

      1. Rita M in CT

        I don’t pick the projects for the class everyone works on their own choice I advise on fabric choices and patterns based on the particular students ability. I teach what ever technique is required. They all must learn the basics then hone their skills and challenge themselves.
        I lost Baci the tallest grey dog in the back of the picture. He was 15 ½ years he was diagnosed with lung cancer in October. He was such a good dog.
        Goat sampler would be a good pattern too. One of my Aunts goats was named Romeo. She had several different breeds. Boer, angora, african something or other and a large white one with big pointy horns. I can’t remember what the other breeds were.

        1. CountryThreads Post author

          Rita M – so sad to lose a great dog friend – 15-1/2 is very old! I’ve never had a dog live that long. In regards to your class, what if the student wants to make a much more difficult quilt than she is capable of making. Do you tell her no or do you give her that much help?
          The African goat would have been an Algerian Pygmy – my favorite!

          1. Rita M in CT

            If she should choose to make a project that is above her skill set I provide extra assistance and instruction so that it can be accomplished. I never tell anyone that they cannot do something. The project may not be perfect but my students feel that they have accomplished something and are pleased with their finished project. I tell them there are no mistakes only variations. I feel that their time in class should be enjoyable.

          2. CountryThreads Post author

            Rita – you’re a better teacher than me! I don’t want to have to hold their hand every step of the way. Then it’s easier to just do it myself. There must be a happy medium, isn’t there?

          3. Rita M in CT

            I think some of the goats were Nubian goats they were black and brown not to small they were a good size.
            Almost all of my dogs live to 16 years.
            We had a little excitement here yesterday a red tailed hawk came in at full speed with wings outstretched and talons first. She tried to get my Swedish Flower Hen rooster but they were in their run and she crashed right into the wire seemed to have stunned herself briefly. It looked as though she thought that she could break through. Chickens squawked for several minutes. When my chickens used to free range I would always be watching the sky and have been hit a few times by incoming hawks. I had rotator cuff surgery after one encounter saving my rooster from a pair of red shoulder hawks.
            Bedtime for me I’ll be up again at 4:30
            I will send a picture of my little Harvey in progress as usual I have made a variation. Lol!

          4. CountryThreads Post author

            Rita – how scarey! If I have lost any chickens to hawks, I haven’t noticed or else I have so many that unless it were one I named, I didn’t miss it. I’ve had rotator cuff surgery and it’s not fun!

  26. Janine

    You gave Alfalfa a great life, Mary – all your animals are beyond fortunate to live on your farm. So sorry for your loss. Connie – I would love to go on a cruise like that! I’m surprised how much room everyone has – and providing the machines is a bonus! You wouldn’t know you were on a ship except for that cruise ship carpet 🙂 And they are making my favorite Battlefield quilt – Best of All. That has moved to the top of the list after seeing everyone’s blocks. Thanks for sending photos!

  27. Felicia Hamlin

    17 years? Mary I didn’t know goats lived that long. They look so sweet when they were little. Once upon a time I had thought I would like to have a goat, but I realized that I didn’t know a thing about it.

    How is Buckwheat doing? I hope he will stay with you for a while, yet. It must be so different to be sewing in a ship, I tend to be disorganized and love to visit, so I wouldn’t know what to take along and would be going around to see what the other projects look like. What do you think of the game last night? We were sad TT lost, maybe next year and being number two is still something. Have a nice day.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Felicia – the game was very, very exciting and yes, I was cheering for TT but VA’s story was nothing short of miraculous! Very fun!

  28. Vickie

    I’m on the cruise with Connie. My class with with her is Thursday. We are having so much fun it’s almost illegal.

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