Posts filed under ‘Newsletter’

June Newsletter (5-cornered pizza, a new pattern, and lots more)

Welcome to the June newsletter!

It’s been a busy couple of days around here. On Wednesday my car was held hostage in the garage. The garage door would only go up about two feet. Even I know that’s not enough clearance to get the car out. Had that fixed.

On Thursday the new faucet for the kitchen sink finally came. The old one decided the sink on the left didn’t need water any more. It was so corroded the plumber had to take the entire sink out, turn it upside-down, and saw off the old faucet. Major mess.

This afternoon the sewer backed up. Let me clarify: I did not move backwards, the other sewer (same spelling) that lives in the basement stopped draining and didn’t tell us. Water everywhere. Nasty water. Late this afternoon the sewer was “snaked” and everything is flowing nicely. Newsletter first; cleaning the basement second. (Buy stock in Clorox, I’m just saying…) Moving on…


Electric-Pizza- CROPPEDWhen Debbie (my trusted assistant and order-filler) and I want to splurge for lunch we order pizza slices from Ruggero’s, one of our local Italian restaurants. Their pizza is rectangular, deep dish, and delicious. My quilted pizza hardly does it justice, although it is much higher in fiber. Ruggero’s makes their pizza in a huge pan and the corners are the best. Well, for me, they’re “the only.” I am a corner snob. Crust rules. When we order we beg for corners.

pentagon pizzaPersonally, I think Ruggero’s should give up the large rectangle with only four corners and go for small, square, individually sized pizzas with just four pieces so every slice is a corner. Better yet, they should make a five-cornered pizza so I could get even more corners! Oh yeah! Bake it in the shape of a pentagon like this PhotoShopped version only with real pepperoni!

As I pondered the mathematical possibilities, taking the area inside the crust and the area of crust itself and dividing by pie (pizza pie, obviously), my mind wandered…


Have a (fabric) ball!Speaking of 5-cornered thins, did you know that if you sew pentagons together they make a ball? Have you ever made a fabric ball out of pentagons? Me neither!

So I tried it! What fun! I had to think for a bit on the best way to join the patches. And (how about this for a coincidence?!) I thought of FIVE different ways to stitch them together!

Can you guess what they are? (Hint: none of the ways involve duct tape or baling wire.)

  1. English Paper Piecing – fold seam allowance over thick paper, baste, and join with a whip stitch
  2. Traditional Hand Piecing – a running stitch on marked lines, then trim seam allowance to 1/4″
  3. Non-Traditional Hand piecing – rotary cut the shape and eyeball the 1/4″ seam allowance from the raw edge
  4. Machine Piecing – rotary cut and machine stitch 1/4″ from the raw edge
  5. Invisible Applique – my very own running stitch done “inside-out!”

Have A BALL!I’ve been playing with balls all week. They’d be great for babies and dogs to chew on (make two: one for baby, one for dog). Young kids can throw them around the house like Nerf balls; they’re too lightweight to do much damage. Teenagers can use them to shoot hoops indoors instead of using wadded up dirty socks. You could learn how to juggle!

Want to make some? I just happen to have a pattern! No kidding! It’s called “Have a BALL!” and it has full-sized pattern pieces for small, medium, and large size balls; assembly diagrams and photographs; plus tips for all five construction methods. Sew by hand or machine. Pick your favorite technique. Learn a new one!

The pattern is $ .01 when you buy three sheets of my newly invented Sticky Template Plastic , since you’d want to use some for all the techniques except for English paper piecing. Already have some Sticky Template Plastic? Get it for just $2.99 when you order anything else from Seriously, you already have everything you could ever want except my “Have a Ball!” pattern? Five bucks (no shipping) emailed right to you as soon as Debbie finishes her pizza. Order HERE.


Remember this Scooter video that went viral last year? (I know there’s an advertisement at the beginning, but Scooter gets a half a cent every time it plays. So far he’s earned $37.)

Well, the video is going to be on TV! No kidding. The air date for the episode that is “likely” to include Scooter’s video is Saturday June 15th. The show is called “America’s Cutest Pets” and it is an Animal Planet show, somehow in conjunction with the Discovery Channel. That’s all the information I have. Can anybody help me find out how to watch the show in Flint, Michigan (time/channel)? We have Comcast. Thanks from both me and Scooter.


I’m less than 10 friends away from having 3,000 “LIKES” on my FaceBook page. If you haven’t “liked” me yet, please head over to and hit the LIKE button. (Or, look on the right sidebar of this blog and scroll up.)


The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiatives June quilt auction is underway. There are 27 awesome quilts you can bid on now through the 10th. All profits fund Alzheimer’s research. Please tell your friends.


Tell me what you think, ask a question, or just share. This is your newsletter too. Now that we’re on the blog, it’s so much easier. If you came to the blog because I sent you an email with a link to the June newsletter, you are reading the newsletter “on” the blog and there are places for you to click to reply or comment. (You’ll know you’re on the blog because you’ll be able to see the new banner of Twisted Sisters blocks across the top, and the dyed clothesline in the “background” on either side of the text.) You’ll also be able to find the SHARE button which makes it that much easier to invite your friends to read my newsletters too. (Thank you!)

If you get an email from Google, WordPress, Feed Burner (or another RSS feed) you’ll see the entire text of the blog in your email. (It’s not formatted as nicely as it is on the blog.) Please click the title of the blog which is right at the top of the email and go to the blog to comment. Please don’t hit reply as your comment only goes to me.


Comments are moderated before they appear. I won’t be my speedy self tomorrow as I have to clean up the sewer mess. Mine and the one in the basement.

See you next time,

Ami Simms

Jane Babb

Jane Babb

Jane Babb shared this photo of one of her pentagon baby balls. She’s been making them for the past 38 years! Thanks, Jane!

June 2, 2013 at 1:26 am 83 comments

May Newsletter

I’m feeling random today.

I checked online to see if it was National Day of Randomness, and it wasn’t. I think that’s the way it should be. I mean, if we are supposed to be random on a particular day, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

May 1st is National Lei Day — the flower necklaces from Hawaii. Took me a minute too. When I taught in Hawaii I was given several leis and I have to tell you they are amazing. At some point you have to put cut flowers in a vase on a table somewhere, but you can wear leis wherever you go.

I was also given a lei needle. It is 17.5″ long with a sharp point at one end with a crimp on the other end that reminds me of a crochet hook. It’s been threaded through the flannel that covers my design wall since 2004. It brings back happy memories every time I look at it. (You can click each picture below to see it larger if you are on the blog reading this.)


20130501-152442.jpgIn Honolulu it rained once every day (for about 4 minutes) and the temperature was perfect. It must have been 72 degrees all the time. I could live there. Easy. No, I still haven’t done anything with all the beautiful fabric I bought. It’s curing. I’m fine with that. It’s like money in the bank.

It got up in the 60’s here yesterday. The yard still squishes like a wet sponge so dying is out of the question until it dries out.

20130501-152507.jpgI swept off the deck last night and put up my dying table. I’m ready as soon as the weather cooperates. I have several pair of underpants (from the Yo-Yo Sisterhood of the Traveling Panties) to dye and about 2,000 feet of clothesline prepped and ready to go. Spring is good.


20130501-152528.jpg 20130501-153602.jpgThe deck was a mess, filled with leaves from last year. Sweeping was quite satisfying until I realized I didn’t really want to sweep them onto the grass where they would just blow back onto the deck. I wanted them bagged and gone. That meant picking them up—with my hands.

I wasn’t in the mood for getting dirty, plus there were creepy crawlies in there. How to get the leaves bagged without touching them?

20130501-153702.jpg 20130501-153721.jpg20130501-153627.jpgI duct-taped a hula hoop to the opening of an extra-large plastic bag to keep it open and pushed them in with the broom!

Mission accomplished.




I like containers: bags, tins, baskets, boxes….all of them! Here’s my short list.

20130501-153736.jpg1. There is something special about the Jumbo 2.5 gallon Hefty OneZips that drive me wild. They’re 14″ tall and 16″ tall and I have no idea what you’re supposed to use them for, but I can’t get enough of them. I use them for quilting projects and for hauling around quilt tops when I travel. They’re sturdy and they zip, and the zipper has a slider. Brilliant!

True confession: I’ve never purchased one. I’ve been recycling them from quilters who use them to protect their Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts during shipping.



2. I have two favorite “pretty-to-look-at” tins: the Arnott’s Biscuits tin from Australia and the 1997 Baltimore Album Quilt Limited Edition tin from Milky Way are on the shelf in my office.x


20130501-153804.jpgI use an old Altoids tin as a sewing kit when I travel. Space in my carry-on is extremely limited and I have to bring something to sew when I travel, even if I never actually have time to sew anything. (Just knowing I could sew is very re-assuring.) Inside are my thimble, needle-puller (pinky finger tip from an old pair of yellow rubber gloves), needle threader, Thread Heaven, folding scissors, pins, needles, two colors of thread (wound on bobbins, wrapped with hair scrunchies), and an LED light for my index finger in case I want to annoy my seatmates on the plane at night as I sew. I’ve never done that, and I’m not even sure the light would work, but it fits in the tin.

3. I love Ikea. The first time I went to an Ikea store I spent four hours wandering around with my mouth hanging open and didn’t buy a single thing.

I’m over that now. I can still spend the better part of a day looking at all the cool stuff (family members have suggested a leash) but now I purchase.

20130501-153817.jpgI started teaching in my @Home Classroom because I could use the collapsible, round, pop-up-things called NOJE as personal thread collectors for each student. Sorry. Everything is named in Swedish at Ikea and most vowels have an umlaut which I can’t reproduce here—two little dots above the vowel.  NOJE are very cool. I bought them knowing that they were cool; I just didn’t know at the time what possible use I had for them. I enjoy buying “on spec.”

NOJE have been replaced by the less cool and somewhat stupid KUSINER  which I don’t like nearly as well even though they are the same shape. (Who needs the number?! Or, if a number were truly needed, why do they only go up to “three?!”)

I buy more GLIS nearly every time I visit Ikea because they could discontinue those some day and I don’t want to run out.

20130501-153832.jpg20130501-153842.jpgI use them to organize my scissor drawer (you will have to look carefully as my organizational skills are questionable at best) and to haul around the extra light bulb for my digital projector. No, I don’t know how to change the light bulb, I just haul it around. There are probably more uses for the boxes (the lids pop off and you can change them around), but I just haven’t thought of them yet.

By far one of the most ingenious Ikea designs is the zippered-bottom cloth organizer. My new personal favorites are the lightweight SKUBB, although there are several models. The kind I like now come in colors (purple, turquoise, and black) but my head almost exploded trying to pick out which was the most attractive color so I just bought white again.

Catch this: they unzip and collapse. I am not sure why, but they do.

If I ever wanted to drown in Swedish red tape I would ask permission to create a pattern so that we could all make these out of quilting fabric. I have laid awake at night constructing them in my semi-sleep.

Click here for the Swedish furniture name generator. Type in your name and see what kind of furniture you are. I can almost guarantee you will not come pre-assembled.

My favorite radio show is NPR’s weekly news quiz “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” I mention that because I’m going to the cinicast tomorrow.  If I’m understanding correctly, I’ll be watching a live video of the taping of the show from New York City at my local movie theater. Or, rather, at my daughter’s local movie theater. We have attended three or four live tapings (in person) but I rarely listen to the show on the radio. It comes on Saturday morning and I usually forget. I started downloading the podcasts in 2006 and have quite a collection.

I listen to them at night when I go to sleep, unless I am mentally constructing a zipper-bottomed container of some sort. Sometimes I have to listen to the podcast three or four times as I keep falling asleep in the middle, often sooner. I know that sounds like a weak endorsement for my favorite radio show, but I’m sure that I laugh in my sleep.

To finish up my random newsletter for May, I leave you with three little videos.

As Marsha McCloskey and I were driving from Eugene, OR to Poulsbo, WA last week we stumbled upon a lilac festival. I was not well-behaved.


I am the queen of flat tires. I’ve gotten more than my fair share. Marsha and I had a doozey several hours after the lilac festival. Luckily we were a mile and a half from our destination so it was all part of the adventure.


The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative continues to thrive. You’ll soon be reading about our 15th grant award in a future AAQI blog. We can raise this money because the quilting community has been incredibly generous in its support of our efforts. The May online quilt auction offers 27 small format art quilts as we have so many times before. After more than 14,000 quilt donations one might think the magic is waning. Not so, my friends. The quilts this month will knock your socks off! Take the tour  or watch and share the video.


If you’re reading the newsletter as an email, please click the title, “May Newsletter” in blue. That will bring you to my blog. Either click on the blue words right at the top that say “Leave A Comment” or scroll down to the bottom of the blog post and add your comment there. Please don’t hit “reply” to this email. If you’re already here, please post a comment.  I’m curious to know if you liked the blog format.

Have a wonderful May and enjoy Paranormal Day on Friday.

Ami Simms

May 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm 194 comments

Ami Simms

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