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Stitching Circles Beyond the Speed Bumps

Denton Quilt Guild members show off their inset circles. Circle of Friends workshop March 20.

I've got a great new line-up of upcoming open enrollment classes available to you via Zoom, including my brand new Warp Speed class and the return of last year's popular Stepping Beyond Drunkard's Path class. Details of those opportunities come later in this post. My next offering is my Finding Your Design Sense class, which starts April 11. Go to the end of this blog post for details and to register.

Before I tell you more about my classes, let me share thoughts from my recent ramblings. It's a story of best laid plans.

Stella pulling Emma through the snow in Raton, New Mexico.

I'm writing to you holed up in Emma, my high-maintenance BFF, aka 18-foot Rpod travel trailer. I'm in northeast New Mexico waiting for a break in windy, snowy weather between here and my home in the Colorado Rockies. Fingers crossed that happens tomorrow.

I left home bound for Denton, Texas, Saturday, March 16, just two days after my county was hit with a record snowfall of more than five feet. That's not a typo. We had more than 60 inches come down in less than 48 hours. Snow followed me over Raton Pass and east a ways out of Raton. Then the skies cleared, and it was smooth sailing into Denton with an overnight stop at beautiful Palo Duro Canyon State Park south of Amarillo. BTW: Texas has amazing state parks. If you're a camper and haven't checked them out, I recommend you do so.

Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Valley View, Texas, with Emma in the background

I backed into my campsite at Ray Roberts Lake State Park with surprising ease, settled in for the night and looked forward to lecturing the next day for the Denton Quilt Guild. En route to that speaking engagement, Stella, my trusty Honda Pilot, quit. Every light on her dash flashed and then nothing. My thanks to Kim Anger, program chair and incoming treasurer for the guild, for going above and beyond. He met me at the grocery store parking lot where Stella died, then ran out to get dinner for us. We were having a tailgate picnic when the AAA tow guy showed up. Kim and I headed for the guild meeting as Stella was towed to the Denton Honda dealer.

The lecture came off fine. The guild has great AV support and lots of helpful volunteers. The next day as I taught guild members to inset circles, Stella got a new alternator. By evening, Stella and I were reunited. I met up with high school friend Richard DeKnock for lunch the next day, got a second good night's sleep then headed home. My plan had been to head for San Antonio for time with another high school friend but that wasn't in the cards after the car delay.

Some of you know I'm a fan of Chicago dogs, hot dogs, that is. As I was driving Stella from the Honda dealer back to the state park, I happened to pass the Portillo's that opened just a week ago in Denton. Dinner: Hot dog, light mustard. Then the big choice: Fries or milkshake? I went for the milkshake.

My next stop was Copper Breaks State Park near Quanah, Texas. En route I drove through Nocona, Texas, and past the Nocona Boot factory, or so I thought. I fished my favorite and much-loved pair of Nocona cowboy books out of the back of Stella and carefully placed them so I could photograph them in front of the factory. Next I visited the company store and museum, only sort of wondering why the entrance spelled Nokoma with a "k" instead of a "c." Upon entering, I encountered a display of baseball gloves and learned the Nocona Boot Company, maker of my boots, once was housed in this building but moved to El Paso, Texas, some years ago. The Nokoma company bought the building. I left not with another pair of boots but with the history of baseball gloves. This kind of stuff is why I love driving off interstate highways.

Copper Breaks State Park, Quanah, Texas

Two days at Copper Breaks State Park, another wonderful Texas park, included hiking and stitching and sleeping. I was ready for the rest of the trek home but the weather didn't cooperate. I faced 35-55 mph winds in the Texas Panhandle that pushed Emma around. After four hours of fighting to hold her on the road, I pulled into a Cracker Barrel restaurant for brunch: the ultimate comfort food, biscuits and gravy. When my server brought my check, she told me the couple who'd been at the next table had paid my bill. A random act of kindness at the perfect moment.

Two more hours combatting the wind and I arrived at Clayton RV Park in Clayton, New Mexico. The clouds overhead foretold a change in the weather. As I set up Emma, the temperature dropped more than 20 degrees. The clouds dropped too. As I retreated into Emma, thunder clapped and lightning flashed. Soon hard rain pounded Emma's roof, she moaned and creaked, and rocked slightly when wind gusts hit. I stayed warm and dry.

I checked the weather on the drive ahead of me. I'd need to stay in Clayton for at least two days as snow was projected along all of the 300-plus miles between Clayton and home.

Overnight, the rain turned to ice and then snow. I ventured out the next morning for a hot shower at the park's bathhouse and breakfast at 87 Restaurant.

This is cattle country, obvious on the restaurant's tables that bear the brands of local ranches. I sat at the T Bar T table signed by brand owners Tom and Jan Pryor, lifelong ranchers in the Clayton area. The burger was amazing: pepper jack, guacamole, bacon and more. Yum!

Branded table at 87 Restaurant

Today I'm doing laundry and writing to you, subscribers to my newsletter and blog readers. For some of you, this is the first communication you've received from me. Thank you for subscribing. For veteran readers, my apologies for such a major stretch since I last wrote. My personal life took an unexpected turn over the last year — a speed bump as award-winning quilt artist Patty Kennedy-Zafred calls such times. BTW: Check out Patty's article in the current edition of Art Quilting Studio magazine. You'll be blown away by her work.

Quilts at the Herzstein Memorial Museum in Clayton, New Mexico

While searching for the cheapest gas in Clayton — I got it for $2.99/gallon — I passed the Herzstein Memorial Museum and decided to check it out. Located in what was originally a Methodist Church, the museum is two floors of material history displays that span the town's past as a stop along the Santa Fe Trail Cutoff route to recent decades. There are rooms that celebrate everyday life, activities at the local high school, Jews among the pioneers who settled in the area, dinosaurs and more. I was delighted to see a display of quilts made by local folk, including a number of signature quilts, likely created as fund raisers. Community leaders were gathered in what was once the church sanctuary to discuss water needs in the area, an increasing concern in so much of the U.S. West.

My slow trip home has provided time for me to reflect and refresh. I'm over a huge speed bump and circling back to my life of teaching, speaking, road tripping and stitching. I'm planning new adventures filled with hope, and I'm grateful to those who saw me through a tough time. I'm back to a fuller schedule of online teaching. I've introduced two new classes. Read on to learn about those.

"Don't Call Me Girl" designed and pieced by Dana Jones; quilted by Rita Meyerhoff

Get Your Warp on in This New Class for 2024

I got to pilot my newest design class — Warp Speed — at Everyday Quilting in Urbana, Illinois, in January. BTW: I love this shop. Owner Zeba Iman is amazing. If you're in Central Illinois, plan a visit. You be glad you did. This class proved even more fun than I'd imagined it would be. It is for those who love traditional blocks but are not traditional quilters. In this class, you'll select a traditional block to "warp." You'll change design proportions and nest, twist, turn, flop and reverse blocks, and more. You'll design a quilt using your warped block, and as an added plus, you'll learn to calculate yardage for your quilt.

The idea for this class has its roots in two classes I took several years ago. The first was a class on warping the grid taught by Sarah Nishiura of Chicago.

In Sarah's workshop, we learned to create the look of three dimensions in a flat quilt by varying the size of the grid into which we put half-square triangles. The pillow top we pieced appeared round but there is no curved piecing. The warped grid combined with value create the illusion.

Next I took Maria Shell's "Riffing on Tradition" class in which each person selected a traditional block then began manipulating it for a variety of designs, all of which referenced the block but which took it in new directions. I worked with the Ohio Star block.

I am now working with the Churn Dash block, focusing on overlapping blocks and nesting them as I did in "Don't Call Me Girl." Nesting is concept I've been intrigued by since childhood. My fascination with grids emerged when I began designing newspaper and magazine layouts as a young adult working newspaper copy desks. Warp Speed brings these loves together in quilt designs. Each participant designs a unique quilt.

The first ever open enrollment session of Warp Speed will meet from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mountain Time (noon-3 p.m. Eastern, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Central and 9 a.m.-noon Pacific) Tuesdays, May 14 and 21. Register now.

My second new class — debuted online last fall — is Stepping Beyond Drunkard's Path. More on this coming soon. I will offer it again starting in August.

Watch for another blog post soon for details and other class offerings plus images and ideas from my week at QuiltCon in Raleigh, North Carolina, last month.

"Warp Speed" designed and pieced by Dana Jones; quilted by Rita Meyerhoff

Claim Your Inner Designer! Finding Your Design Sense

15 hours in five 3-hour sessions plus an optional critique session

Starts Thursday, April 11 so register right away.


If you’re ready to design your own quilts but aren’t sure where to start, this class will introduce you to the basics of design — balance, unity, variety, line, shape, value, color, pattern, texture and more — through in-class activities and at-home play projects between sessions. You’ll learn what appeals to you toward developing your design style. In this class, you will:

  • Learn concepts of design you can use to design quilts and to adapt other people’s designs;

  • Be stretched to try new ideas, some that may push you to a new place and some that will affirm your ability as a designer; and

  • Become confident that you can design quilts unique to you.


The class is five three-hour classes spread over five months, allowing time between classes to use what you learn, plus a final critique session for those who are interested.If you want to design your own quilts, my Finding Your Design Sense class will get you started and then some.

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