Top Choices for Our Favorite Irons and a Giveaway!

The holidays are coming and we have received a few questions as to what our favorite iron is. Sounds like it may end up on a few holiday wish lists!

We thought it would be fun to share our different opinions on the subject of irons with you.

Laura:  I’m not sure I’m the best one to weigh in on this discussion because I’m a bit of a pessimist on this subject. But, I’ll throw my two cents into the pot, just because I want to be honest with you. I have not really loved an iron since my first one, a Rowenta, which I purchased about 35 years ago. I still have it and use it regularly in the classroom. It’s been a workhorse and has all the qualities I want in an iron – weight, good steam, no automatic turn off and definitely no leaking or spitting gunky brown liquid that will stain my fabric.

Over the years I have purchased probably 20 or more irons for both personal and classroom use, ranging in price from $20 to over $100. Truth be told, none of them has lived up to my expectations and as a result, I find myself buying a new one in less than a year.

I am currently using this Rowenta, and certainly not just because it is red!  It gets the job done but since I’ve never been excited about the automatic turn-off feature, this is a negative for me. It seems to take a bit too long to heat up and will turn off too quickly. I seem to spend to much time waiting for it to be ready. Perhaps I’m just impatient.

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One of my local quilt shops recently purchased  Reliable irons for the classroom. I had not used this brand but I have really enjoyed using them. They are heavy in weight and put out a lot of steam. I will certainly consider this brand the next time I am in need of a new iron. Unlike my other irons, this one suggests using distilled water. If you are not familiar with Reliable irons, I suggest reading some of the online reviews. I always find it helpful to listen to the advice of other quilters when it comes to the tools we regularly use.

reliableiron

It wouldn’t be fair to leave out my favorite small travel-type iron. This Rowenta is the perfect size for taking to class, I like how it fits in my hand and allows me to easily press small pieces; especially when preparing small fabric shapes for appliqué. I definitely use my main iron for the final stages of pressing but there is something about this iron that appeals to me when working with small shapes and/or pressing seams open.

traveliron

Pati: Like Laura, I have owned quite a few irons over the years. Some worked well, others were just not up to my needs and expectations. I owned quite a few Rowentas in a row because they performed so well. A few years back I was having trouble with my forearm muscle and decided to switch to an Oliso Smart Iron, thinking that it would help. I love it!

Oliso Steam Iron

My cheerful, yellow Oliso had Scorchguards technology, which actually lifts the iron off the board for you the moment you remove your hand. Which meant my arm got a much-needed rest. I have been very happy with the other functions of the iron, also. It heats up quickly, even after the automatic turnoff. It works well with dry heat, and the steam settings are spot on. I especially like the steam blast button to get the creases out of folded fabric.
oliso-closeup

One of my favorite features of my Oliso is the way you add water. I have always spilled or over-filled when adding water. This iron is almost spill proof when you use the companion water pitcher that comes with the iron. No more saturated ironing boards in my sewing room!

I want to also add that Darci and I both had a chance to use the Reliable Iron that Laura mentioned above, while at a retreat last weekend. I thought it was really great. It had great heat, lots of steam and I really liked the feel of the iron.

Darci: I grew up using my mom’s old Black and Decker classic iron. That thing always came through, so much so that we used it for 25+ years. When I started quilting, I was pleased to see that Black and Decker re-released their classic iron, now with updated technology. I had one that lasted a few years but then conked out. So I bought another, and that one failed after a few months. Enter: my cordless iron from Panasonic.

I have a really old vintage iron that’s pre-electricity also, I thought that was a funny comparison to how far we’ve come with our tech. My two cordless irons.

thanandnow

The Panasonic NI-L70SR has a retractable cord along with a heat-resistant cover which makes it a great traveler. I brought it to our East Bay Modern Quilters Retreat this weekend, and it got non-stop use for 3 days. At the end of the weekend, I unplugged it and put it right in my car without having to wait for it to cool down.

I love how there’s no cord to get tangled up in. When I’m ironing larger items, I just make sure to put it on the base frequently so it doesn’t lose its heat. I haven’t had too much of a problem with that, it seems to hold its heat just fine. I love the stainless steel plate also. I just finished a large appliqué project that involved lots of glue and heat setting, and the plate never got gluey. My only complaint is that the water chamber is small, but since it’s detachable, you can take just that part over to fill it up. It gives me the excuse to get a few more steps in.

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Hope this answers a few of our readers’ questions. If you need a few quilters tips on how to properly iron, or clean your iron, check out these links:

How to Press Quilt Seams – A Free Craftsy Tutorial

How to Press a Quilt Block Flat – This is a great trick by Generations Quilt Pattern

Accurate Pressing – Quilting.about.com

Cleaning Your Iron with a Dryer Sheet – ApartmentTherapy.com

If you love DIY, then here is a recipe for the spray starch alternative we all love.

Spray Starch Alternative Recipe

In a large container, mix together:

24 oz distilled water

3 oz. vodka

1 tsp scented essential oil (optional) Love the fresh linen and lavender scents.

You may also add one drop of food color per gallon if you like.

Pour into spray bottle, give a good shake and your ready to press.

Giveaway

 

And for our giveaway – Share your favorite trick or advice with us and we will choose one lucky reader to win a free gift to use with all of your new ironing tips we have shared.

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and see you all next week!

laura-pati-and-darci

20 Degrees of Fabric Play

FullblockIt feels like forever since I have checked in with you. I read through all the thoughtful comments from my last post and could not select just one winner, so I randomly picked two. Be sure to read to the end to see who will be receiving my new pattern/ruler pack. If you missed seeing the post, simply click here. I challenged myself with a charm pack, large scale floral fabrics and a 20-degree wedge ruler. It was great fun. I’m still in play mode and don’t see an end in site any time soon.

So much has happened here since the last time I checked in. I have completed my new pattern, the Blooming Wedges Table runner and had some personalized 20-degree wedge rulers made. The two combine perfectly into a neat little pack. I have just shipped my first order to a major distributor so they should be available to shops very soon! In the meantime, if you are interested, I am offering a 50% off special on my website until May 31st. The special price is $12 plus $2.50 shipping. If you don’t use PayPal, just simply leave a request in the Comments and I will be happy to contact you via email.

Blooming Wedges Table Runner - pattern plus wedge ruler
Blooming Wedges Table Runner – pattern plus wedge ruler

 

 

I have also taught Wedge Play workshops at several local guilds and have been so pleased to see the abundance of creativity and willingness to play with fabric and rulers. To say I’m beyond excited, is an understatement.

Although the pattern has specific instructions for making the table runner, there are endless design possibilities using the ruler.

Below are just a few of the projects currently on my design wall.

I’m heading out on a four-day quilting retreat next week with the goal of finishing these quilts. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not a color combination I generally work in, but I'm loving the results.
This is not a color combination I generally work in, but I’m loving the results.

 

I LOVE red and black, with just a bit of an Asian flare.
I LOVE red and black, with just a bit of an Asian flare.

This is my favorite so far . . . made from silk tie samples.

silk quilt

 

I’ll be sure to post updates with my next post. Finally, the lucky winners of the pattern/ruler pack are Jane from MA and Judy White. I will be sending you an email shortly to get your mailing addresses. Please be sure to share your projects.

As always, many thanks for checking in. Until next time, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

Visit Me at the Sew Amazing Quilt Show This Weekend!

I have about 4 days left to get ready for the Sew Amazing Quilt Show for the Vallejo Piecemakers. I’m excited, but also nervous. It’s such an honor to be invited as the Guest Artist for the show. This is something new for me and I am working hard to make sure that everything turns out perfect!
VallejoPiecemakers_6x4_Back_v02

For the past few months, I have been methodically checking things off my to-do list. I am so grateful to have Laura around with her experience as a vendor. She has had lots of tips to share with me. Here is a funny turn of events – in a different life (ok, my twenty-somethings), I actually designed trade show booths for a very large corporation. I designed the layout and floor plan, the graphics and tradeshow materials, and then followed it through from set up, to take down. Those were 1000 square foot booths, with truck loads of equipment to ship. But preparing for this show is sooooo much more nervewracking for me. Maybe it’s because I want to share everything I love about quilting, and get others excited too. Or maybe it is because I am not in my twenty somethings anymore.

But back to the to do list – The sleeves are all sewn on to the quilts for the show.  The booth layout has been decided and is currently set up in my garage🙂. My good friend, and the longarm quilter of all of my quilts, Kerry Reed, will be joining me in the booth and have some of her creative little treasures to purchase. I have my patterns and quilt samples ready to go, including, my new Yardstick Sewing Tote. This is a project that I have taught for years in classes, but I have yet to sell the pattern to the public.

Cover Photo
It will be making its debut at the Vallejo Show, with patterns and yardstick kits to purchase. Speaking of debuts. . .

Braid Trimmer Beauty Shot

I am really excited to be able to demo my brand new ruler, Braid Trimmer©, at the show! If you have ever pieced a braid, you know that the worst part is the nerve wracking step of trimming the points off. Well, that will no longer be an issue if you use the Braid Trimmer©! I will be doing demonstrations all weekend showing how easy it is. I will also have lots of samples to inspire you to incorporate a braid in your next project.

And then, just for fun . . .

Coloring Fabrics

I will be playing with color all weekend at the show. My whole shtick has always been to inspire others to try something new. So, that is going to be the theme of the weekend form me. I will be sharing tips and tricks on how to add color to all of those wonderful black and white prints on the market today, and then show a few samples of what to do with them!

If you are local to Northern California’s Bay Area, I hope you take time to visit me at the Vallejo Quilt Show. I am sure it will be an awesome show, and I would love to see you. Stop by my booth, check out my new stuff, and do a little coloring with me!

If you are not local – no need to fret. I will be posting more about these projects and products throughout the summer. As soon as I catch my breath, I will have them on my Etsy shop to purchase.

Have a great week!

Pati

 

 

 

My One Hour Challenge – Part 2 plus a Giveaway

It’s curious to me that sometimes I have to schedule a play date in my sewing room in order for things to get done. I guess this is just a sign of busy times. Fortunately it’s not always like this!

I’m just now getting back to playing with the charm packs and floral fabrics that I started in my last post. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap and details of my process.

I started with a charm pack (5″ squares) of solid Kona Cotton fabrics by Robert Kaufman. I separated the solid fabrics and then paired them with some floral fabrics from my collection.

6combos

I set aside one of the six solid fabrics from each group. Then used my new 20-degree wedge ruler to cut the remaining solid squares into fabric wedges. I got 2 fabric wedges from each square. There was a bit remaining that I decided not to use in this project.
charmcut3

charmcut1

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After cutting, there were 10 fabric wedges from each group. I arranged nine and then sewed them together to make half of a circle.

Wedges

The next step is to make a straight cut along the edge of the three inner fabric wedges. I placed the completed half circle on my cutting mat and used a ruler to determine the distance from the straight, left-hand edge of the circle to the outer edges of the three inner fabric wedges.

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Cut the excess.

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Turn the fabric on the mat and make two additional cuts, as shown.

 

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It will now look like this.

FullSizeRender

 

Next, I straightened the top edge even with the lowest point of the curve.

charmwedges1

charmwedges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut the squares that were set aside earlier, as shown in the photo.

corners

These are sewn to the bottom corners, and then trimmed to size.

Trimming

 

Next, I cut a floral piece of fabric for the top of the block and joined the two halves together.

Fullblock

 

I did the same for the remaining combos. Here are the finished blocks. My next step will be deciding what to do with them. . . I see another play day in my future.

Finishedblocks

I must share with you that after my previous post on this challenge, I received a comment from my friend Anita Grossman Solomon, that she too had been playing with the charm pack of Kona solids that she received in her goodie bag at the same Craftsy event. Not only was she playing with the solids, but also combining them with large floral prints . . . what are the chances?

I asked Anita if I could share her blocks with all of you. Here you can see another simple use of the solids squares combined with beautiful floral fabrics.

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Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.37.57 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Like myself, Anita too has a new class on Craftsy, “Quick Techniques for Classic Blocks: Wrenches, Stars and Twists”. She shares lots of innovative tips for cutting and block construction. If anyone can simplify the process, it would be Anita . . . that’s the name of her game. Please visit her website to learn more about her books, patterns and workshops. To preview her online class with Craftsy, simply click here.

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My new 20-degree wedge rulers just arrived. I’d like to send one along with my new table runner pattern to one of our readers. Please just leave me a comment by Friday April 22nd, letting me know what you would like to play with wedge rulers. I will announce the winner with my next post.

Ruler

 

Blooming Wedge Table Runner by Laura Nownes
Blooming Wedge Table Runner by Laura Nownes

Until next time, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

 

 

 

 

Select Print & Piece – New Product for Foundation and Paper Piecing & Giveaway

As promised, I have given another one of Alex Anderson’s new product for quilters a try. Select Print and Piece by Floriani definitely gets a thumbs up in my book! I am embarrassed to say that I have truly never embraced paper-piecing, primarily because I don’t enjoy removing all the papers and especially dislike all the little bits of paper that often remain on the back side of the block. With that said, I am impressed with this product for a variety of reasons.

Quilters Select Print & Piece
Quilters Select Print & Piece

First, I like the weight and feel of this fiber-based product. It is available in 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets which will easily and conveniently run through your home printer. I made a copy of the square-in-a-square pattern that is included in the pack of 25 sheets. I selected a few fun fabrics and soon started the paper piecing process.

Pirnt&Piece1

As with all foundation and paper-pieced patterns, the process was organized and easy. After I had completed sewing the sequence of pieces, I trimmed the block and began the process of removing the paper. It was surprisingly easy and removal was not messy – no little bits of paper stuck in the stitching lines. I started to tear the paper, which worked quite well, and then looked again at the instructions which suggests first dampening the stitching lines for easy removal. I didn’t have a q-tip, as suggested, so I simply used a spray bottle of water that was on hand in the classroom, and lightly spritzed the backside of the block. Voila! This worked perfectly! The paper came off easily, and large pieces, with no little bits remaining in the stitching lines. Also, I must note that I even forgot to shorten my stitch length as is generally suggested with paper piecing, and I am happy to say there was NO distortion of the stitches.

Print&Piece5

Print&Piece3

 

Removal of the paper is optional. If you like, you can choose to leave it in the quilt and you will hardly know it’s there. About 50% of it will dissipate when the quilt or project is washed.

Well, Alex, thanks again for sharing with us another great product! We love anything that helps make the process easier and more enjoyable.

Again, Alex has provided a package of the Select Print and Piece as a giveaway for one of our readers. Just leave us a comment by end of day Friday, July 10th, telling us why you would like to receive this gift. The winner will be announced in Pati’s post next week.

The winner of the rolls of Select Appli-Stick and Appli-Web Plus is Pam S. Thank you to all of you who took time to post comments. I wish I had rolls for everyone but hope you will have an opportunity to give the products a try and encourage your local quilt shops to keep it in stock. Here is a link to the Quilters Select website where you can find a list of the quilt shops that carry these and many more products.

Until until next time, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

New Products for Quilters – Select Appli-Stick and Select Appli-Web Plus & Giveaway

Alex Anderson

Hi Quilters, Crafters and Sewers!

When I recently heard that my friend, Alex Anderson had new products on the market I gave her a call and asked if I could give them a try. My hope was that I would like them enough to share my thoughts with all of you. I am happy to say I love them. Alex graciously sent me samples of three products: Select Appli-Stick, Select Appli-Web Plus and Select Print & Piece. The first two products are used for fusible appliqué and the Select Print & Piece is ideal for foundation piecing. I’ll share my thoughts on the Appliqué products today. Be sure to check back as I plan to write a review of the Select Print & Piece in my next post.

 

I’m always curious about the origin of new products so I asked Alex how these came to be. She shares that while she was on retreat with some friends and working on this beautiful pieced & appliquéd quilt, she was also searching for a new fusible web to replace one of her favorites that was removed from the market many years ago.

Designed and made by Alex Anderson. Machine quilted by Angela Walters.
Designed and made by Alex Anderson. Machine quilted by Angela Walters.

One of her friends suggested she try some products by Floriani that were being used for machine embroidery. Alex gave them a try and immediately loved the results.  She started working with Floriani to tweek and customize the products for the quilting world. The products were recently introduced at Spring Quilt Market. To read more about Alex’s story and watch a video, be sure to check out the Quilters Select Website. You will also find many other useful products by this company.

I was excited to receive my samples in the mail and test for myself how they worked. Here’s what I found.

1. Select Appli-Stick – Great for fusible raw edge appliqué. This product is available in rolls, printable sheets and narrow tape (perfect for quilt bindings or decorative trims).

Appli-Stick1

Like many other fusible webs, there is a paper side and web (glue) side. I especially like the weight of the paper side. It is slick, takes markings easily yet also any unwanted lines are easily erased without leaving any markings. The paper side peels away easily (think I’ve used easily too many times, but you catch my drift!) after pressing, leaving  the sticky web adhered to the wrong side of the fabric.

Shapes marked and then pressed onto the paper side of the Appli-Stick.
Shapes marked and then pressed onto the paper side of the Appli-Stick.

The prepared fabric is soft, not stiff and best of all, can be repositioned! That’s right, you can change your mind if you want to move pieces around before they are permanently stitched onto a background fabric. Pieces are secure until you are ready to add your favorite decorative stitches around the edges.

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2. Select Appli-Web Plus – A great product for your appliqué and other craft projects. Unlike the Select Appli-Stick, the bond on this product is permanent. The fusible webbing is very lightweight producing a softness to the finished shapes.

Appli-Web1

 

The paper backing on this product is not as heavy and slick as the Select Appli-Stick so I found it easier to use a pin to score the back side of the prepared shape in order to remove the paper. This prevents frayed edges from picking and pulling along the clean cut edges.

Appli-Web2

The prepared shapes are soft, lightweight and press well onto a background fabric. Since shapes are permanent, decorative edge stitching is optional.

Bird

 

I am really excited and pleased with these products and will definitely be using them for future appliqué projects. I’m also happy to learn from Alex that they will only be available at independent quilt shops, not large chains. Online sales are an option, but whenever possible, please remember to support your local shops. Click here to find retail locations: www.quiltersselect.com and to see the other useful products by Quilters Select.

WebAlex has graciously offered a roll of each of these two wonderful products to one of our lucky readers. If you are interested in having your name added to the hat, please leave a comment by Friday, July 3rd telling me why you would like to receive this gift. The winner will be announced in Pati’s post next week.

Speaking of giveaways, Pati and I are excited to have new followers on all of our our social media platforms! Thank you one and all. The 3 winners following our new Instagram account SeeHowWeSew, are rdarcene, merryheartbusyhands and mbelmer1. Congratulations to all of you! Please contact us at seehowwesew@gmail.com to give us your mailing address for your gift.

Please be sure to check back on my next post, as I share my thoughts on the new Quilters Select Print & Piece.

Until then,

Laura Signature

 

A See How We Sew Tradition: Our Top 10 Posts for 2014

Inspiration-J:  Xmas Tree

Hello dear readers! Hope the holiday season is  treating you well. We’re enjoying the closing days of 2014, and looking forward to all sorts of crafting and sewing adventures in 2015. You’ll remember that last year we shared our Top 10 Posts for 2013 and we’re establishing a New Year’s tradition by looking at our results for 2014 and sharing them with you.

Like last year, you favor learning about techniques, notable textile artists, and products:

  1. Patterns
  2. Walk Your Stitches Out of the Ditch
  3. 10 Things I’ve Learned From Hanging Out with Candace Kling
  4. Drafting Part 2:  Making an 8-Pointed or Lemoyne Star
  5. Candace Kling, Masterful Manipulator of Fabric & Ribbon
  6. Prewash or Not? Quilting’s Perennial Question
  7. Feeling Frantic?  Check Out These Last-Minute Goodies
  8. Gallery
  9. Soft & Stable:  An Alternative to Batting
  10. Creating Curved Pieced Blocks and Landscapes with Sue Rasmussen

Enjoy the waning days of our Winter holidays and do check back to see what we have in store for 2015!

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Simple Wedge Tree Skirt

Friday already? Yikes! I’m still curious about where November went. I’m guessing like many of you, this is a busy time of the year. Thanksgiving always seems to sneak up on me and then I start rushing in preparation for Christmas. I’m not one to purchase gifts throughout the year, but instead I wait until I’m inspired. I guess that’s why they call me “Last-Minute Laura.” Oh well, it works for me.

I’m still organizing my sewing/quilting room and promise to share photos as soon as it is ready for viewing. It amazes me how much stuff one person can collect over a 30-year period. I am happy to report that I HAVE donated lots of it, but there is still so much left to organize . . . one box at a time.

I needed to take a break from all the boring work and decided to do something simple and creative. I may be one of the last sewers/quilters who wraps the base of the family tree with a piece of holiday-printed fabric. Not this year, I decided it was time to actually make a proper skirt for our tree.

Our tree isn't up yet so I must use a cabinet for display.
Our tree isn’t up yet so I must use a cabinet for display.

I was recently given a 9-degree wedge ruler and thought it might be fun to cut and sew pieces together to form the needed circle. It’s pretty simple, and just 5 fat quarters are needed to make this skirt.

skirt4

skirt5

After sewing the 40 wedges together, I felt it needed some decorative trim around the edge. Prairie points! After sewing them on I preferred the look of them folded inward and so I decided to secure them through the layers with red beads. I think it makes for a nice finishing touch.

Buttons, beads or even bells could be used to secure the points.
Buttons, beads or even bells could be used to secure the points.

OK, skirt done. Now I just need to get the tree up so I can enjoy the new look, at least until the presents make their appearance. Speaking of presents, here’s a fun website I stumbled across today. If you enjoy unique gift wrappings you will enjoying watching the many tutorials. I am anxious to try the pleated one, it’s adorable. Click here to watch the beautiful Japanese gift wrapping by SHIHO Style and Design.

Enjoy!

Laura Signature

Hari-Kuyo – The Ceremony of Broken Needles

In Japan, the Hari-Kuyo ceremony is held throughout Japan annually on the 8th of February. This 400-year-old tradition is held at Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples as a celebration of the small tools used by seamstresses, embroiderers, and housewives over the previous year.

It is believed that these inanimate objects have souls and by using them, some of their pain is released. Broken or worn needles, pins, and some small scissors are brought to the ceremony and thanked for their good service in creating sashiko, kimonos, or even for daily mending. Then they are gently laid to rest in a soft tofu cake.

harikuyo

Tofu is symbolic in this instance for rest and tenderness; a peaceful place for the tools retirement. In observance of the ceremony, no sewing is to take place on this day, as this gives time for  reflection and time to pray that sewing skills improve the following year. Audrey Yang tells of the ceremony in a beautiful online booklet- Hari-Kuyo: Festival of the Broken Needle.

Stitch Modern Ceremony

East Bay Modern Quilt Guild held a version of this meaningful ceremony last Saturday, February 8th, as part of a series of events connected with Stitch Modern 2014, their annual show.

Photo by Pati Fried

I found paying my respects and praying to console my broken needles a wonderful opportunity to share in a time honored tradition . I spend so much of my day with needle and scissors in hand. It was a moment to reflect on my year as a quilter and to be thankful of the accomplishments made with these tiny tools. I have always tossed them away without regard to their importance to my craft. This was an opportunity to change my thinking.

Photo by Pati Fried

The ceremony was thoughtful and welcoming. Birgit Hottenrott, the driving force to celebrate Hari-Kuyo at Stitch Modern, shared the history and lore that has evolved with this special day. While she spoke, many brought their broken needles to rest in the peaceful bed of tofu. Birgit ended the ceremony with the lovely poem by Emily Dickinson, Don’t put up my Thread and Needle.

Photo by Pati Fried

Thank you Birgit, for bringing this lovely tradition to our attention. As this year proceeds, I fully intend to keep a special place for retiring my used needles until February 8, 2015, when I will again, pay them the respect they deserve and celebrate Hari-Kuyo.

Photo by Pati Fried

ではまた。Dewa mata, (See you later).

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