At a recent quilt show, Maryann Maiorana stopped by and told me about a banner she had made using the Studio pattern from Scrap-Appliqué Playground. Maryann enlarged the size of the project to hang in a big communal sewing space that is actually known as “the studio.” :)

Maryann chose to keep this one simpler by using just one fabric for the letters in this bright and cheerful version. I told her, “I always say, you can make any little sewing room or nook into a studio, if you only hang up a sign. Your studio was always a studio, and now it is officially proclaimed!”

At another show, I met fellow appliqué enthusiast Louisa Postier, who showed me the sweetest little wall quilt that she made using one of my blocks.

Heartberries by Louisa Postier

Heartberries by Louisa Postier

Louisa added heart-shaped buttons to the stems! Adorable! They look like hearts that are just about to bloom. And the border fabric is perfect.

Heartberries is one of the designs in my book Growing Hearts to Appliqué.

Thank you, Maryann and Louisa, for taking the trouble to stop by and show me your projects. I love seeing what other quilters do with my designs.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. Another personal Show & Tell: my little teddy bear dog.

May 21, 2015

Filed Under Show & Tell | 3 Comments 

The blog tourist who came up the winner of a copy of 100 Blocks Volume 11 is… Julie in WA! Congratulations to Julie, who reports that she enjoys every minute of the blog hop and is always sad when it ends. Julie will receive a copy of Volume 11 from Quiltmaker.

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by, and for your lovely, wonderful words.

The magazine gave instructions for the block using fusible appliqué, applying the black scroll on top of the heart. QuiltMouse, who tested my block for the magazine, used fusible as well but cut the scroll out of the heart and laid it on top of the black, thus devising a form of raw-edge reverse appliqué. Genius!

Some readers referred to Celtic appliqué.

I like it, it has a celtic feel to it.

I’ve always wanted to try celtic applique. This would be a good way to get a feel for it.

I love it! I would do bias tape fusible, Celtic-style.

Celtic-style would be another way to go about it! I haven’t done a lot of Celtic appliqué, but I understand how it’s done. Bias strips with turned edges are interwoven and stitched down to create beautiful knots and border designs. This is regular appliqué. Here’s a current book on the subject.

When we submit our blocks to 100 Blocks, we don’t send any instructions. The editors of the magazine write the instructions. Though the magazine gives directions for fusible appliqué, I stitched mine by hand. I mentioned this in my blog hop post… the outer edges are regular appliqué, and the scroll is reverse appliqué. When reviewing the comments, I noticed a trend.

I love hearts I really like applique but your block looks very difficult

The only time I tried reverse appliqué it was a disaster; it’s definitely time I tried again with good instructions!

that sure is a lot of work, you must love applique.

Stunning – it looks like a load of work but I bet it’s not that bad!

I can’t imagine how you did that reverse applique on those tiny pieces.

I would have loved to look over your shoulder as you created this and learned how you did the turned edge/reverse appliqué.

I have never tried reverse applique before, but it needs to happen soon.

I have been wanting to try reverse applique.

Darling block, got to try reverse applique – I love needle turn applique – so this hopefully won’t be a big stretch to learn!

I’d love to learn reverse appliqué one day.

Maybe this is my chance to take a stab at trying reverse applique.

I have never tried reverse applique before…this looks like the perfect block to try it on!

I think I might try the reverse applique method. It might even be easier than hand applique.

Reverse applique on a curve – wow. I need to try that!

Reverse applique is something for me to learn as it looks amazing in your scrolls on that lovely heart.

I’ve tried a bit of hand applique and really enjoy it, but I’ve not tried reverse applique yet.

Gorgeous heart block! I haven’t tried reverse appliqué, but it is on my list of techniques to try.

This could be a good way to ease into reverse applique–only a few corners.

I have never tried reverse applique, I may have to come back if I decide to attempt with this block.

I have never done reverse applique but think your block would be a good one to try it on.

I find reverse applique to be very interesting but I have never tried it.

I haven’t tried reverse applique in years, but your block tempts me.

Lovely block, I’ve never tried reverse appliqué.

Will you be offering a tutorial?

What’s all this mystery surrounding reverse appliqué? To those who say they have never done it… guess what! It’s the same as regular appliqué!

That’s right, let me say it again. Reverse appliqué is no different than regular appliqué. You’re just revealing the background instead of covering it up.

Under the terms of my agreement with Quiltmaker, I cannot give instructions for the block at this time. However, when the rights revert to me (three months after publication, in mid-August), I will be more than happy to put up a photo tutorial of how I made this block. I’ll take Julie’s suggestion: “I would love to see it tone on tone, with the scroll being a bit darker shade than the heart.” You got it!

In the meantime, check out my earlier post about reverse appliqué for a gentle demystification. :)

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop

May 15, 2015

Filed Under Blog hops, Photo tutorials, Reverse appliqué | 2 Comments 

Greetings gentle quilters!! It’s Wrap-up Day for the 100 Blocks Volume 11 blog tour! I hope you’ve been having a rollicking week visiting all of the designers. I’m so proud to have one of the 100 once again. This marks the 10th time for me, how very cool!!!

I’m Kay Mackenzie, a designer and author in Santa Cruz, California. My website is By Kay Mackenzie, which has all of my books and patterns on it, plus select notions for the appliqué enthusiast.

If this is your first time visiting my blog All About Appliqué, I’m so glad you’re here! You’ll find a wealth of information about all kinds of appliqué here on the blog, so take your time clicking around the categories, and use the keyword search as well.

Like many quilters, I love hearts, and hearts find their way into many of my designs. I also happen to love spirals, so for my latest block I combined the two.

Scroll Heart by Kay Mackenzie

The magazine gives instructions and templates for making the block using fusible appliqué. But I actually stitched this block by hand, using a combination of regular and reverse appliqué. It gives the scroll an inlaid look.

I used regular hand appliqué around the edge of the heart. For the scroll, I used reverse appliqué to open and stitch the red fabric, exposing an inserted piece of black underneath.

However which-a-way you like to appliqué, I hope you enjoy the block and all the other 99 fabulous and varied designs in Volume 11!

The editors of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks are sponsoring a giveaway of a copy of the magazine! If you’d like to enter to win, please leave a comment here on this post before 12:00 noon California time on Wednesday, May 13.

Good luck in the drawing, and remember that if you are subscribed to the blog by email, clicking “Reply” will not enter you in the drawing. Come to the blog on the internet and leave your comment at the bottom of the post. :)

Many thanks for your visit!
By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop

May 8, 2015

Filed Under Blog hops, Magazines | 163 Comments 

The Mackenzies have a new family member! We couldn’t be happier to welcome our new puppy, Daisy.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile will remember Wilie, our darling dog who lived to almost 17. It’s been over 3 years since he left us, and for those 3 years we’ve been thinking about getting another dog, talking about it, not doing much about it, and then, all of a sudden we were ready!

Daisy and her sister came into our shelter as strays, about 3 months old. Her sister looks more like a chihuahua, and Daisy looks more like a terrier. As far as we can tell she’s some sort of Yorkie-or-other-terrier/chihuahua mix. Whatever she is, she’s 100% cute!

Daisy and Max, our great big cat, are working it out in mostly civilized fashion :) . It’s great to have a dog in the house again, especially a champion snuggler sweetie pie.

Thanks for letting me show off my new pup,
By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop

P.S. Don’t forget the 100 Blocks Volume 11 Blog tour, starting Monday! My day is Friday, but you’ll want to start the tour on Monday at Quilty Pleasures.

May 2, 2015

Filed Under Blog hops | 11 Comments 

It’s almost time for Volume 11 of 100 Blocks to come out!

The editors of Quiltmaker, who put together this very special magazine issue every six months, are once again organizing a blog hop amongst the designers. Mark your calendars for the week of May 4!

There will be lots of prize-winning opportunities all week long. Start each day at the Quiltmaker blog Quilty Pleasures and they’ll send you on your way to visit the blogs of many of the designers who have blocks in the issue.

My day is Friday, May 8. See you then if not before!

By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop

April 27, 2015

Filed Under Blog hops, Magazines | 1 Comment 

Over on the Martingale blog Stitch This!, they’ve put up a fantastic article explaining the various digital formats that books can come in these days.

Each format has its own set of benefits! Something for whatever electronic gidget or gadget you have in your toy box, what the differences are, and how you can do nifty things with each.

Have a nice edifying read (I did). Thanks Martingale!

By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop

April 22, 2015

Filed Under Books | Leave a Comment 

Now before you start singing a J. Geils Band song, it’s not that kind of centerfold, and seriously, I’m no angel :) .

But, my project Spice Pinks does appear right smack dab in the center of the current issue of Quiltmaker, bookending the pullout section!

May/June 2015!

Spice Pinks is an old block that was traditionally accomplished using curved piecing. I applied a little appliqué reimagining, and curved piecing no more!

And here I am, the closest I’ll ever get to being a centerfold angel.

Thank you Quiltmaker!!

Until next time,

By Kay Mackenzie

April 13, 2015

Filed Under Magazines | 2 Comments 

I’ve been working on stuff. Well, I’m always working on stuff, and sometimes I have something to show for it. :)

A new pattern! I pulled hunks and scraps out of my stash, anything I liked, and put them all together for this important quilter’s statement piece. Your hunks and scraps will be completely different than mine, but your quilt will make the same proud pronouncement.

Also, I made a stand-alone set of instructions for back-basting.

This illustrated guide includes the 9″ Heart and Flower practice block, illustrated back-basting instructions, hand stitching tips, and my guide to points and notches.

Note: If you have Teapots 2 to Appliqué or Inspired by Tradition, you have these instructions built-in.

This weekend I’ll be at the show put on the the Guild of Quilters of Contra Costa County in Concord (say that 10 times fast). Hope to see you there if you’re in the area!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

April 6, 2015

Filed Under Back-basting (no-template), Patterns | 2 Comments 

No, I did not get another kitten LOL (though kitten season is beginning and I should have new fosters soon).

No, the fabulous Darcy Ashton got a new kitten, and made the most amazing pattern!

Pumpkin Jr., side-by-side with his fabric rendition.

Darcy is famous for her blanket-stitched appliqués, and this is an example of her more realistic work. I’m blown away.

“My Little Orange Kitten” is available as an instant download at Darcy’s Etsy Shop.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

March 22, 2015

Filed Under Patterns | 2 Comments 

The wonderful Kim Jamieson-Hirst has launched her Essential Guide to Fusible Web Appliqué at!

This is the most comprehensive on-line course imaginable, including over 20 lessons that will show you everything you ever wanted to know about fusible web appliqué.

You won’t believe how complete it is, with exercises and assignments and personalized teacher feedback. I’ve know Kim over the interweb for years now and I can tell you there isn’t a more pleasant person that you’ll meet. My favorite feature is that there are 172 minutes of learning-packed video “that isn’t sleep-inducing.” I love that LOL!

Go on over to and check out all the many features of the course.

Some Admin Notes:

There’s a new internet special on my website. The BOGO book is now Dolls & Dresses to Appliqué. It comes free with any other book purchase at, including the ones that are on overstock sale!

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned here that for the past year or so I’ve been having the most fun with buttons. Oh my gosh, I’m in deep. Introducing Kay’s one-of-a-kind Button Magnet Sets, available at my Etsy shop. They make fantastic gifts, for a friend or for yourself.

Just a mention that the Scratch & Dent book sale is still ongoing.

Lastly, I’ll be at the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association’s biannual show this weekend, at the Convention Center. Hope to see you there if you’re in NorCal!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

March 9, 2015

Filed Under Admin notes, Classes, Fusible web, Machine appliqué | Leave a Comment 

Inside points, notches, whatever you call ‘em, hand appliquér extraordinaire Susan Taylor Propst has posted an illustrated tutorial to stitching these potentially pesky areas, over on the Martingale blog.

And, my pal Cathy put up a post on machine quilting that is hilarious and inspired, with a touch of genius, and at once bittersweet if you are a Trekker or even an MI fan.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

March 2, 2015

Filed Under Hand appliqué, Notches | 2 Comments 

The ‘lucky” reader who won the Ugly Christmas Sweater block is… Beverly! Beverly claims that she is planning a Christmas quilt that will welcome and enfold this block. Nice. I love a happy ending.

Speaking of winning, a teapot quilt that I put in my guild’s show over the weekend received a Judge’s Choice ribbon!

A Spot of Tea by Kay Mackenzie

The theme of this year’s show was “The Way We Were.”

Our show is not juried or judged, but we do have visiting dignitaries come and put ribbons on their favorites. I never found out who the judge was… whoever you are, thank you so much!

The quilt features nine of the teapots in my Teapots 2 to Appliqué, on the book page at

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

February 24, 2015

Filed Under Prizes | 1 Comment 

Just got word that I’ll have a block in the next issue of 100 Blocks! Keeping my streak alive!

However, they sent back another block and said no thank you.

Ugly Christmas Sweater by Kay Mackenzie

Can’t imagine why!!! :)

I sewed as much stuff to it as I could.

Would you like to inherit this hand-appliquéd and embellished 12″ block? if so, please leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Wednesday, February 18.

U.S. shipping addresses only, and clicking “Reply” to your email feed won’t enter the drawing. Come to the blog on the internet and leave your comment at the bottom of the post.

Thank you to anyone willing to adopt this poor orphan.

By Kay Mackenzie

February 14, 2015

Filed Under Embellishment, Holiday | 18 Comments 

Thanks you *so much* to everyone who left nice comments about the Heffalumps. I’m as tickled as the pink baby one.

My fellow appliqué enthusiast Darcy Ashton just published a guide to the hand-stitching of eyes.

It includes 14 different eyes, with instructions for all of them!

Darcy is the author of many appliqué classics featuring animals, from bunnies to big dogs to little dogs to horses to butterflies to aquatic creatures. I’ve always thought she did the most fantastic job with the eyes, really bringing the animals to life.

Check out Darcy’s website Ashton Pubications, which features all of her books, and spend some time poking around her Etsy shop as well, where you’ll find many darling patterns. She also has an embroidery stitch guide.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

February 9, 2015

Filed Under Embroidery | 2 Comments 

Sometimes, when I get an idea for a new pattern, the title and the layout jump into my head fully formed. So it was with my latest.

I saw in my head what I wanted to do. Once I got the heffalumps drawn, I thought of making them in batiks. I pulled a few out of my stash, and purchased a couple more. Then a brain storm occurred. I thought, what am I doing!? I’ve got these precious hand-dyes left over from the super secret piecing project! Back the batiks went into the stash, and it was full speed ahead.

In choosing the colors, I did a rather primitive mockup on the design wall with chunks of fabric.

I think I ended up changing one ear.

I’m mighty pleased with how the heffalumps came out, with a smile for A.A. Milne, and they’ve been a big hit so far. The pattern is available now on my website, on the Patterns page.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

February 6, 2015

Filed Under Fabrics, Patterns | 8 Comments 

Whew! It’s been awhile. I was gone for quilt shows back to back… first a guild show in Modesto, then home one day and on the road to Road. Road to California in SoCal is a quilt show and conference on steroids. What fun to be there and experience the excitement and positive energy of 35,000 quilters gathered in one spot to enjoy their common interest. On the way home I visited the fabulous Cathy for our annual schmooze.

Before I left for Modesto I was able to finish the super secret piecing project, which I can now reveal!

Last fall, my super smart nephew Stephen, just finishing his master’s at Stanford, expressed that he would like to give his treasured girlfriend a quilt, something on an oceanic theme, since in her studies she does things like get on a cutter and sail to Antarctica with other students to do research on the waters and sea life there.

Fish quilts. I’ve seen tons of them, I admire them, but to be honest they are not in my wheelhouse. My brain was spinning. But this kid is the nicest guy in the world and never asked me for anything in his life, so I was determined to make it work. Instead of literal fish or sharks or other watery fauna, I tried to think of ocean-related patterns. At first I thought of Storm at Sea, but I get kind of seasick looking at Storm at Sea. Then I thought, Storm at Sea is based on Ocean Waves, and I like Ocean Waves! I pitched the design and coloration to Stephen, who approved it enthusiastically.

I knew I would be seeing Tammy, the dyemistress of Always Unique Hand-Dyed Fabrics, at my next show, so I pitched that type of fabric. I felt that the use of hand dyes would bring the quilt more toward the modern aesthetic for this young ‘un. Again, a hearty approval.

The Always Unique booth

I found the perfect tutorial to make the quilt in exactly the size needed… queen size. Yes people I said queen size. I was putting on my big-girl panties for this one. Thank you *so much* Janet Wickell for posting the Free Ocean Waves Quilt Pattern on

I read the pattern, studied the pattern, double checked the pattern, made a list. Invaded Tammy’s booth, picked out the colors I liked, secured the fabric for the project. My buddy Alicia the Batty Lady was at the show too. She’s a Wonderfil rep, so I asked her what thread I could use for general piecing. (The DMC I use is too light for sewing a bed quilt.) Alicia led me right to the Tutti.

The Batty Lady booth

Okay, got the pattern, got the fabric, got the thread. When I got home I took a deep breath and started cutting squares.

It was right about this time that Stephen emailed to say that he would somehow like to help with the quilt, if there was a way he could do it without any trips to the emergency room. I was flabbergasted and very pleased. How many computer science grad students want to help with a sewing project? He came down to the house, and I set him and the DH up with marking stations. They sat and marked squares to be sewn into half-square triangles, whilst visiting with Grandpa from back east who just happened to be visiting at the same time. Whew. That was some weekend.

So now I’m making half-square triangle units by the hundreds. There are to be exact 800 of them in the quilt. I did say 800 in case your eyes didn’t believe it. Dana and I sat and marked again one night, and I finally got them all sewn, cut apart, pressed, and trimmed to accurate size.

Stephen wants to help some more. Awesome! I threw a block party. I sewed a sample block, set up a couple of my booth tables in the living room, laid out all the units and triangles, and told them to have at it. They laid out (18) 20-inch blocks on top of taped-together cardboard, with pieces of ancient humongo sketch paper that had been behind my desk for 15 years in between. Now I could pick up the blocks and move them upstairs to the studio.

The beloved nephew.

The boys hard at work in the salt mines.

The fabric is so beautiful.

The background fabric is not actually white… it’s a very pale misty grey, which I thought was oceany. Now I commenced a period of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair, sewing a block or a block and a half a day, until hallalujah! they were all done and pressed. Dana and I laid them out on the floor.

It only took one more day to sew the blocks into a quilt top, 80 x 100, and it was ready to go to the quilter.

After consulting with my friends, I took it to Barbara Heno in Gilroy, California. Stephen and I chose a panto called Waterworld to go with the watery theme. Barbara had the quilt done for me in just a few days, and it came out exactly how I wanted, with big overall swirls and eddies.

I bound it in the same mist grey to give it a more modern-y look.

Barbara doesn’t have a website but if you’d like contact info, just shoot me an email.

I left for Modesto with Dana in charge of the quilt transfer. Stephen came that night and took it away, very pleased with his super secret surprise.

Along with the quilt went a small bottle of Synthrapol that Tammy gave me for the initial washing.

Sigh. I did it ya’ll. I, the appliqué enthusiast and specialist who makes wall quilts, I pieced a queen size Ocean Waves quilt. Boom!

Next time, back to appliqué and the critter who popped into my head and wouldn’t go away.

By Kay Mackenzie

January 30, 2015

Filed Under Fabrics, Show & Tell | 7 Comments 

Greetings gentle quilters, here’s wishing that the new year treats you well!

The delightful Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs is launching a new free-pattern-every-month that she’s calling the Snow Happy Hearts Club. It’s a series of ornaments, one a month that you can make featuring Anne’s super adorable designs. Check it out!

Myself I’ve been working hard on a couple of projects over the holidays… one is a super secret piecing project (that’s right, I said piecing believe it or not) that I will be able to reveal soon. The other is a new appliqué pattern featuring an animal that popped into my head one day and wouldn’t leave :) Stay tuned. also coming soon.

Update to Kitten Cavalcade:

Giselle, now called Corkie, has gone to live with Minnie! That’s right, Helen decided to get her kitten a kitten, and these buddies are now lifelong companions.

Gunther was adopted the same day by a nice family that I was lucky enough to meet down at the shelter. He’s now known as Milo.

We thought we were done for the season and packed everything up. However, on new Year’s Eve I received a call from the shelter that there was one more, very late little kitten that needed foster. I couldn’t get her off my mind, so the next day I went down there to see if they had found anyone yet. They had not, so I brought the tiny little black thing home with me.

It’s hard to get a photo of Molly… she’s a kitten in motion, a spunky, feisty little mighty mite.

Dana got this shot of her in a moment of repose.

Single kittens tend to treat human hands like other kittens and treat them accordingly, but we’re working on it and she is learning to be an exceedingly sweet kitty. She’s a total lap cat, and sleeps on our heads at night.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

January 7, 2015

Filed Under Designers, Kittens Off Topic, Patterns | 3 Comments 

Merry Christmas to all!!

Usual Disclaimer: What you are about to see contains images of cute fluffy kitties. It has nothing to do with appliqué, so be warned if you must. Welcome to the Fifth Annual Cavalcade of Kittens!

In the spring, the Mackenzie Finishing School for Felines opened its doors for the season. Dana and I had the joy and privilege of taking care of a total of 10 groups of cute baby kittens for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

The kitties we take in are big enough to eat on their own, generally five to six weeks old, and we keep them until they’re at least eight weeks, two pounds, and in good body condition. It’s so much fun, and so rewarding to watch them grow from sometimes shy, teensy little klutzes with short stubby legs to sturdy confident pre-teens who sprout legs and run thumping and banging around the house.

The first batch consisted of two solid gray fuzzballs and one gray tabby fuzzball, all boys. They were so much fun.

Linus and Niles taking their first steps into the house.

Norbert, showing off his stripes.

Linus and Norbert

Norbert and Niles, feeling their kibble.

Breakfast at Mackenzie’s

The next batch were Donovan, Duncan, and Desirée.

Upon arrival, in the Kitty Hotel.

These guys were scrawny and didn’t display much of an appetite. After a week of no weight gain, I hauled them in to see the shelter vet, who recommended syringe feeding. That’s where you water down canned food so that it will squirt through a wide syringe, and feed them like baby birds! I had never done this, but I was determined to make it work, and Dana says I have nurse’s hands.

Desirée says, most of it went down!

This protocol was a huge success. After less than three days, they found their stomachs and started eating like there was no tomorrow. Nom nom nom, no problem!

As you can see from this naptime photo of Donovan and Duncan, they soon became plump and sturdy.

Water cooler talk.

When we get a new batch, Max is always very curious and wants to check them out. Big (and I mean big) guy that he is, it’s a tight squeeze to take a peek.

The wee ones that he was peering at were Arlo, a darling gray tuxedo, and Marigold, a rather rare orange girl.

Arlo, resting up after a patio romp.

Marigold among the impatiens.

When these guys went back, I told the foster coordinator that I had a two-week window should any kittens come in needing that relatively short amount of time. I hadn’t even gotten home yet before she had called and spoken with Dana. Another foster family had to go out of town and had brought back two that needed… guess what… two weeks! I sent Dana down to pick them up while I prepped the house for a new batch.

Lucky me! Mellie and Chelsea were sweet, sweet girls.

Mellie, a pastel tortie, and Chelsea, a black cutie with a white locket.

Mellie takes in the afternoon air on the escape-proof patio.

Chelsea surveys the living room.

Max takes the girls to see just how bright their futures are.

Would you like to see how Max gets downstairs each morning?

Morning Transport

The next group, you have seen before if you’ve been reading this blog. Mimi and Maddie caused the Stash Cat-Astrophe that I wrote about in July.

Who us?

These girls went back after their colds had improved, and got adopted one by one.

Next we had three boys. We gave them British prep-school names: Oliver, Digby, and Poindexter.

Oliver says, pleased to meet you!

Poindexter had extreme of the cute.

Poindexter knew what do do when receiving a bath from a big cat.

Digby makes sure all the litter has been used up, while Oliver supervises.

You could tell the tuxedos apart because Digby had one white front leg.

Max and Digby rest up.

Following the three boys, we had three girls. These were all single stray kittens who came into the shelter at about the same time, and were about the same size, so we formed a tabby sisterhood.

Meet Brandy, Buttercup, and April!

All three were different types of tabbies. Brandy was a gorgeous classic tabby, April an exceedingly cute mackerel tabby, and Buttercup was actually a torbie… a combination tabby and tortie.

Brandy, April and yellowy Buttercup enjoying the cat condo.

April gets a bath.

April (top), Brandy, and Buttercup staged themselves perfectly for this group portrait.

As soon as Max wakes up he's going to call the shelter for another batch.

More tabbies! I named them Penny and Paige, which if you watched Desperate Housewives you’ll know were the names of Lynette’s daughters.

Penny, a ticked tabby, and Paige, a mackerel tabby.

Ooh! A bouncy ride!

That was a lot of excitement.

Paige catches some rays.

These girls cast long shadows.

Except that… oops. One day when they were playing in the sunshine, rolling around and having a high old time, I noticed something. I told Dana, “I think Penny is a boy.”

Dang, the shelter had released him to me as a girl, and now we had to rename him LOL. The first thing that popped into my head was Penrose. Okay, to be fair I am married to a mathematician, a geometer in fact, and Penrose Tiling is very famous in our house. The kitten formerly known as Penny became Penrose.

Next up: more tabbies! What’s going on here? We’ve got a tabby streak going here. Two more singles ready for foster.

Hermione and Obie

Obie is short for Oberon, King of the Fairies. That’s right, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My husband thought it would be brilliant to open the dictionary to a random page to look for a name.

Hermione was one of the nicest, most mild-mannered and affectionate little cats we have ever had. Here she is hangin’ out in Dana’s hoodie while he works.

Obie, on the other hand, was terrified when he first came to us. They were unrelated, and obviously had had widely differing experiences in their young lives. In the photo above, you can see the slightly backward-pointing ear that indicates he’s still a little worried.

It’s a testament to the wonders of foster care that this little man got over his fear and his shyness in a matter of days, and became a happy cat. He worshipped the ground that Max walked on and followed him everywhere.

Sleeping in the homespun section.

That peach cowboy fabric had been set aside for my guild’s Ugly Fabric Contest, but then we didn’t have it this year.

For a long time, an old friend of mine, Helen, was in the market for a cat. I invited her over to meet Hermione, and sure enough, that kitty put her best paw forward. She climbed up and gave Helen a head butt, purred loudly, and settled down in her arms. The deal was sealed. As soon as Hermione was big enough, she was spayed and adopted through the shelter, and home she went with Helen!

Obie was smaller, so stayed with us for a couple weeks longer. He turned into a one-cat party! Seriously, when he wasn’t sleeping, he was playing.

Pop-Up Kitty

When Obie was ready to go back to the shelter, I stayed with him for awhile to see if he would revert back to his shy ways. At first he was nervous, but within an hour he had climbed up into the windowsill of the get-acquainted room and was watching the world go by. The kitten who hid for the first two days in foster now immediately jumped into anybody’s lap, for all the world as though he was seeking comfort in this new environment. Obie was adopted very quickly.

Sigh. What a difference fostering can make.

The same day that I brought Obie back, the foster care coordinator asked me if I wanted some more. Yes! I love having kittens for Christmas. There were two at the south-county location. I was going that way the next day, so I swung by and picked them up.

Giselle is a darling little tortie. I have a string of alliterative names going for the torties… let’s see if I can recap them all… Gypsy, Gigi, Georgie, Genevieve, Gingersnap, Giselle. (Mellie came with her name already.)

Here’s her brother Gunther, a sturdy gray tabby.

Gunther enjoys the warm air in front of the fridge.

Like our Christmas kitty Sparrow last year, Giselle made it her personal mission to get to the ornament on the Charlie Brown tree.

Sparrow, December 2013.

Giselle, December 2014.

By this time, Max was starting to be a little bit over the babies underfoot thing, so we hired a nanny. Our recent graduate Hermione, now named Minnie, came back to stay with us for a week while Helen went on a family trip.

Minnie is growing into an exceedingly lovely young lady.

The little kittens LOVE her and she is having a blast playing with them.

Group tussle.

Group nap.

As of today, Minnie, Gunther, and Giselle are still here with us. It won’t be long before they all go their ways, and then the Finishing School will close its doors for about five months.

The very best to you and yours, including all your furry friends!

Until next year,
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. If you didn’t see Peanut’s video, here’s a link: Doggie Skedaddles

December 25, 2014

Filed Under Kittens Off Topic | 8 Comments 

Christmas Day marks the annual Cavalcade of Kittens. But this year, we stared off with a D-O-G! So here’s a little canine Christmas Eve.

In February, the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter called to ask if we would be interested in taking care of a little one-year-old dog who had come into the shelter hit by car. The owners weren’t able to care for him financially so had surrendered him. This little guy needed several weeks of rest to heal a fractured pelvis.

You may know that despite all the kittens, we are total dog people. Dana went right down and picked him up.

A little Corgi mix, sore from his accident.

I called him Peanut.

Peanut had been an outdoor dog his whole life, and he quickly learned that he loved being a house dog. At first he was stiff and sore, but every day he improved a little more. He could go on short walks, but was not to run or climb stairs.

Shopping for kibble at PetPals.

As he started to feel better, his impish personality came through. As a part Corgi, he was a herding dog, and all toys were taken back to home base. And everything he could get his teeth on and carry away was considered a toy.

Home base got chewed up, so I got him a durable plastic nest. One day I opened the closet to get the broom, and the next thing I knew, Peanut had dragged out a plastic bag of packing peanuts, opened the bag, and dumped them into his nest.

How did he do that!!?

I so proud of myself :)

Peanut improved so much that it grew increasingly difficult to keep him down on the farm. After about five weeks, the vet approved him to run around the house and it’s a good thing, ’cause just look at him go!

Peanut went back to the shelter not long after that, and was quickly adopted into a happy family who had another small dog. What a lucky dog he was that he lived in a place with a caring, open-door shelter that would take him in and see to his recovery. Happy ending.

Peanut's shelter portrait.

Merry Christmas Eve! Tomorrow: the 5th Annual Cavalcade of Kittens!

Until then,

December 24, 2014

Filed Under Kittens Off Topic | 3 Comments 

I hope you all had a turkey-stuffed Thanksgiving and are still enjoying leftovers. We are… happily! It’s always just the hubby and me, but I cook the full dinner anyway.

I took some time today to update the Appliqué Booksstore with the latest scrumptious-looking appliqué titles. This virtual store is a very good gift resource for all your appliqué friends.

Have you seen the Appliqué Bookshop? It’s on the blog, in the left-hand sidebar. If you’re subscribed by email, you’ll need to click over to the blog itself on the internet to see the sidebars.

If you live in my area, you probably know the annual Heritage Holiday Craft and Gift Fair held at the Fairgrounds in Watsonville. It’s this coming weekend, and this year I’ll have a booth! It’s my first sort-of craft fair (as opposed to quilt show) and I’m excited because I’ve been into making finished goods lately, like those framed mini-quilts I blogged about not long ago. I’ll have my petite clutches, button magnets, button bouquets, and more. I’m also going to be offering quite a few wall quilts that I don’t need any more. Great opportunities for holiday shopping, for your loved ones or for yourself!

Here’s the poster for the fair.

Hope to see you if you’re from Santa Cruz County or thereabouts!

Holiday cheers,
By Kay Mackenzie

November 30, 2014

Filed Under Books, Holiday | 2 Comments 

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