Author Archives: Jo

Kramer Update

For those of you who were here early this morning and a blog post wasn’t I’m so sorry.  We’re all okay….just had a crazy overload yesterday.

Yesterday was our day to take Kramer back to Lacrosse for the next step on his lung cancer journey.

It was his day for mapping and to get a port.  It was also the day to get the radiation schedule.

Check out the sign below.  We graduated and are now allowed to park in the close parking lot…the one for oncology patients.  There is even a specific spot for radiation patients.  It’s not really a place we wanted to be but here we are and we’re going to do all we can to get in, get out and get DONE with this cancer.

The mapping was done first.  That consists of laying in a big bean bag type piece that molds to his body shape.  Every time Kramer goes for radiation they get out his mold and he lays in that exact mold for his treatment.  They then took another chest CT all in an effort to find the correct settings on the radiation machine to best blast his cancer.

We also got another overload of information.  NEVER, NEVER, EVER let any cancer patient go to meetings with the doctor by themselves.  There is too much information to take in for a person who is not dealing with it let alone the person who is dealing with it.  I don’t know how many times I have said something that was discussed at the appointment to Kramer and he “didn’t hear it” or didn’t understand it the way I did.  It truly is hard.  The good news in all of that is that they do give us a folder with all the information we discussed so that is very helpful.

After that, we were off to the hospital portion.  We needed to go there so Kramer could get his port put in.  That was easier than we expected.  He opted to not be put under for the procedure.  He’s so tired of the foggy effects of being put under.  He opted to stay awake.  He’s such a goof.  He asked them if he could watch them do it.  AHHH!!  Who can do that??  It ended up not working for him to…but seriously who would even request that??

By the time we got out of the hospital it was 2pm and he had not eaten.  So to the closed gas station we went.  He’s a gas station food guy.  Besides, if you’ve been in the area, you know our Kwik Trip stations have good food.

If you remember the joke has been that every time we go to Lacrosse the weather is terrible.  We either go early to beat a snowstorm, stay because it was bad or drive home in weather that has just been bad.  This time we thought we might be in the clear.  Not quite…..

This time it was flooding….We drive through a little town in Minnesota called Hokah.  When we went through town on the way there, we could see that the water was high but didn’t think much of it.  On the way home, there was a sign that said the road was closed.  We aren’t super familiar with the roads so we thought we’d keep heading that way and see.

We got to town and the road was still open but only one lane and it was monitored that only one car could drive through at a time as the flood water was going over the road.  We were able to drive through.

We ended up getting into Decorah and heard that the road had closed.  We just made it through.

We came home to a house full of people.  Including KARL!!!  See?? Continue reading

In the Mail….

Our mailbox has been busy with cards and well wishes…but also goodies.  I’m not the only one getting mail either.

We got a wonderful box of goodies from my niece Jody.  (I forgot to take a picture)  It was filled with things with Kramer in mind.  Jody explained that with her chemo treatments she gets a weird taste in her mouth.  She sent some candies that are flavored, peppermints and jelly beans to stave off some of that.  There were puzzle books to try to stave off some “cancer brain” too.  I’m so not looking forward to that next step for us.  Jody is going to be a wonderful and helpful resource when we get there though.  I so wish we would be getting vacation spot or crafting advice instead.

Kramer got a wonderful package from a blog reader “across the pond”.  It was super thoughtful and anonymous.  All we know is that it was from a reader in England.  THANKS whoever you are.

Kramer is often looking through them.  He loves all things farming so this was PERFECT.

I got a box in the mail from Trish.  How fun!  Take a look….. Continue reading

Ask Jo: Spider Web String and More

Marilyn wrote:
Jo- I am making the spider string quilt and would like to know what pattern will you use to quilt it. I have chosen black with tiny polka dots for my background.

Marilyn is referring to this quilt….

Marilyn was wondering how I chose to quilt it.  I tried to so a little drawing to show how.  For the most part it’s about as continuous sewing as I could get and still be custom quilting.  The drawing below is primitive I know but I think you can get the idea.

The outer string border was just a back and forth straight line…you can see that noted in BLUE.

The inner border, noted in YELLOW, is a loop.

The WEB part of the design is noted in ORANGE.  I arched in a curve from corner to corner.  For the first row I only did the top arch closest to the inner border.  On my swipe back I finished off the triangles.  In the other rows I only did the top half of the web and in the swipe back I did the lower section.

For the solid area, noted in in green I did a flower.  I started in the FAR left of the black section.  From there I did the top half of the flower all the way across the row.  On the swipe back I did the bottom half of the flower.

As I went along I learned to stop at the far left and pick up the loop design in the narrow border to travel to the next section of the quilt.  I didn’t have to stop and start to do the inner border.

In the end I was happy with the design…my execution of it…needs practice.  My friend Carla who does the longarming got new bigger wheels for her set up.  I’m wondering if I might benefit from that as well.  I feel like my set up isn’t running as smooth as it once did.  I also keep telling myself PRACTICE more.

Here’s a picture of the back of the quilt…That might help you see the quilting design.

Another look….

Next comes a question from Joan:  “Are you hand sewing the double wedding ring or attaching by machine? I missed the beginning of this one.”

I am machine sewing the entire quilt.  No hand stitching for this girl.  You can learn more about the quilt with tips for making your own double wedding ring quilt HERE.

From Kim:
Jo, your crumb quilt screams fun & is such an excellent choice for kids. I know you are a resourceful person & use “what’s on hand” first but I am curious do you have a “go to solid red”? Is there a certain solid red that you consider a must in your stash?

Kim wrote that after seeing the center portion of baby Friedman’s quilt….

I do have a go to red that I prefer.

This was the first crumb quilt I made…That’s Kalissa as a teenager sleeping under it.  I loved the red I had for this one.
When I made the next one which turned out to be Carvers, I didn’t have enough of the original red so used this red.
It’s okay but somehow the red seamed “cheaper” looking to me.

That’s about the time I started being more “color aware”.  Kelli and I ended up getting a Bella Solid color chart.

Open it up and there are swatches of all the Bella Solid colors there are.
My go to for any “cream based” projects is Country Red.  If using white based I still use a darker red…the “Christmas Red”.    Others work great too but these are my go to’s.  

The charts are available at Fat Quarter Shop HERE.  We got ours from Moda when we were writing our book.  They gave it to us…thank heavens…the chart is kind of expensive but if you’re a mom and have everything you need…ask for it for a present.

We also have the Moda Marbles chart and the Essential Dot chart.
We use them regularly.  I used the Bella Solid Chart to pick the center color of my Spider Web quilt…it’s Charcoal.

I think that wraps up this edition of “Ask Jo”.  If you have questions please leave them in the comments or send me an email at

Charity Quilts

A blog reader suggested these be called “love” quilts rather than charity quilts.  I agree but….no one will ever remember that it’s the term I’m using and I’ll have to write an explanation into each post.  So charity quilts it is.

Ronda was busy….and so were her friends from the blog.

Ronda writes:

“I have a couple more charity quilts to share.  The first one is from Cindy E. in Ohio.  She sent a queen sized top and extra wide backing to go along with it.  I am a 99% scrappy quilt lover, and this quilt is made from only two different fabrics ~ and I LOVE it! “

“I never would have thought to use just two fabrics.  This is very stunning in person.”

“The darker fabric has little reddish and gold flowers in it that matches the gold backing and binding.  I will donate this for a fundraiser as I am sure it will do well.”

“The second quilt is from Diane O. in Michigan….”
Continue reading