Category Archives: Ask Jo

Ask Jo: Christmas

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days…

I recently got a question from Donna.  She wrote:
I have an “Ask Jo” question. Hope I haven’t missed the answer on some past post…but why do you dislike holiday decorating?
Don’t get me wrong…I dislike it too, but if I ever mention that to someone, it’s like they can’t even believe it and like I must be dysfunctional.

I just resent the time it takes to set up and later pack away. I don’t enjoy doing it and as a mother of only sons (now adults) I have found they really don’t notice stuff like that very much.
Now a special meal and a seasonal dessert they do appreciate and I like planning and cooking.

I guess I am feeling g a bit guilty and maladjusted seeing everyone’s Halloween decorations.

How did you phase out seasonal decorating g and does your family mind?
You don’t even do a Christmas tree, right? I might give that up this year.”

Oh my…I’m sure you had no idea when you asked the question, Donna, what my response would be.  It will likely be a long one so grab a cup of coffee…here goes.

I’ve told you all that I’m the youngest of five siblings.  My sister is 16 years older than me and there are 3 boys in between.  When I was little, this was my Christmas….


It says Feb ’68 on the photo so that means this was taken when I was two.

I am dumping out my Christmas stocking.  Our family celebrated Christmas at that time.

Second grade was the last year our family celebrated a “regular” Christmas.  After that, my sister and her family joined a church group that didn’t acknowledge Christmas.  My parents ended “regular” Christmas for us all.

We didn’t have a tree.  We didn’t have a huge meal.  We didn’t have decorations.  We still had Christmas candies and treats and my Dad continued to candlelight church service but that’s about it as far as celebrating Christmas goes.

There never was Santa even when my parents allowed “regular” Christmas.  My parents believed Santa was a lie and they didn’t lie to us EVER!

So for me, Christmas became totally non-commercial.  On Christmas Eve I went to church with my Dad.  My brothers and their families often still came on Christmas day.  There weren’t any presents.  We ate food.  We played games including cards.  Christmas for me was the birth of Jesus.  It was a candlelight service.  It was family.  It’s was food and spending time together.

As a teen and early adult, I was resentful to my sister about this.  I wanted parts of the commercial Christmas I could see so many enjoying.  I blamed it on my sister and her family.  I felt like they stole it from me.  She got while she was growing up.  She ruined it for me.

As a twenty-some-year-old, I had a family and kids.  I could do what I wanted in regards to Christmas.  I talked to Kramer and he was on board to not do Santa.  I tried having a tree.  I tried some of the more commercial non-religious things people do for Christmas but it all seemed like a show that involved a lot of work and money.  After a few years, I told Kramer if he wanted to do a tree to do it- I wasn’t.  He said he didn’t have a tree growing up unless he brought the classroom Christmas tree home from school.  He agreed.  A tree and lots of decor wasn’t our thing.  A Christmas tree wasn’t meaningful to us.

When Kalissa was a teen she was insistent on a tree.  We had one a couple of years…but after she had to take all the decorations up and down, she quit too.

Christmas isn’t about decorations for me.  Christmas for me is about family.  It’s about a candlelight Christmas service.  It’s about special foods for the season…a couple of practical presents and that’s it.  The other stuff doesn’t bring me joy.  After living so many years without it, the other stuff seems frivolous and expensive.

Now that the kids are all adults… Continue reading

Ask Jo: Making Quilt Larger than the Pattern

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days…

Donna asked:
Have you ever developed instructions for a queen size Bands of Color or Brick House?  I love your blog!!  Thanks.”

The short answer is, “No, I haven’t but I’m willing to give it a shot”.

This is our Bands of Color quilt…This is the original quilt has gone by two different names so don’t let the name trip you up.  It’s called Rainbow Connection as it appeared in our book.  (You can buy our book with the pattern HERE.)

RainbowConnection

The pattern is written for the throw size quilt.  To make it queen-sized would be no problem.  Just keep adding white and then another border of color until the top is to the size that you need.

I didn’t go and find the book but if I remember correctly, it’s 70″ x 70″.

I would continue adding the bands in the exact same order.  If you add an orange and yellow band then the quilt would be, 90″ x 90″.  If you added two more beyond that, green and teal, it would be 110″ x 110″.

For every band of color, 6″ is added to the quit.  For every white border, 4″ is added to the quilt.


Everyone has a different definition of what a queen-sized is so if someone would like to make it larger, they’ll need to do the calculations themselves.

On the Brick House quilt… Continue reading

Ask Jo: This and That

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days

First up…I got an email from Rachel at Quilted Twins.  The kits for Azure Skies, our latest quilt in American Patchwork and Quilting are selling out quickly.

She only has a few kits left.  If you want a kit, order soon.  HERE is the link to their site.  HERE is the blog post I wrote about the quilt.

Nance in Reno asked, “I am a sorta sewer who enjoys your blog. I am a crocheter, though, and would love to buy the pattern for the ABC baby Afghan. Could you post where to get the pattern? Thanks so much.”

Can you see the ABC letters hidden in the blocks?

abc alphabet granny square afghanYou can find all the info about HERE on Kayla’s blog.

I got an email from blog reader Linda.  She is… Continue reading

Ask Jo: Follow Ups

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days…

I have some follow-ups to share with you.

Do you remember this community quilt that Cheryl and Ann Dee?  It was this one.  (It was shared HERE)


Cheryl and I both thought the stars were interesting and commented on that in the post.  A blog reader said that she thought the pattern was Bonnie Hunter’s Smokey Mountain Stars.  You can find the free pattern HERE.

If you want the layout that is shown for the community quilt above, you would need to make these blocks for vertical star points….

…and theses blocks for the horizontal star points.

In Bonnie’s version… Continue reading