A Functional Tension


A Tension Wire Used To Keep the Gate Together

When I took this picture of the tightened wire on the hook keeping the gate together, I was reminded of the value of healthy tension.  Every four or five years, the fences on our property lean and become out of shape. Of all the things we’ve tried to keep the gates upright, the tension wire has worked best to keep the larger pieces of the fence sturdy and useful. I am thankful to be reminded of a level of tension that makes life function well.  The right tension with the wire serves a great purpose, because it helps hold things together.

I began thinking of other situations where tension helps life run well.

For instance:

*A sewing machine stitches perfectly when the tension is at the right setting for the specific fabric being used.

*The resistance, or tension, when using weights in weight training helps to strengthen muscles by keeping them healthy and in turn revving the body’s metabolism.  Without resistance of weights there is no strengthening of muscles.   Due to a lack of resistance, astronauts who spend a long periods of time in space are susceptible to their muscles atrophying. The absence of the force of gravity on the body has a negative effect on a person, because the human body does not have to work as hard without the tension of gravity to move.

*The sound of the beautiful notes and chords of the violin are caused by the tension of strings being pressed, strummed, and plucked by the violinist.

*To tune a guitar, or any stringed instrument, the right tension is created by tightening and loosening the wire.  Without the right tension, the instrument is out of tune.

*A bicycle chain needs the right tension to stay in the spokes and to keep the gear set moving smoothly. If the tension on the chain is too loose, the chain will fall off.  If the chain is too tight, pedaling the bike will become stiff and difficult.

*Suspension bridges, like the Golden Gate Bridge, use the balance of compression and tension to keep them in good use.  The compression and the tension in the wires ‘suspend’ the bridge above the water creating a roadway where otherwise there wouldn’t have been one.

So, if tension works in a physical realm of life, can the right amount of tension be a good thing in how we choose to live our lives also? I would argue there is a tension in life that holds us together and can show us what care about and who we care about. Having pressures like, earning a living, paying bills, using our talents and gifts to provide for ourselves, choosing activities to do with our time, and having people in our life to interact with, all motivate us to find a healthy balance with time and energy. The tension of working and caring for ourselves and for others gives us purpose; it tethers us to those we care about.

It is important to find the right balance of tension between work, activities, caring for ourselves, and spending time with others. Some call it a rule of life.  It all takes time and adaptability to adjust to what is happening in life.

I’m finding it’s worth the effort to find the right balance between a healthy tension and the areas of frustration, or resistance.  Knowing what to hold on to and what to let go.  It is a constant struggle to find what works best for me.

blessings on your day,



Seeing the Art in Others


A couple of years ago, the juniors and seniors I taught were turning in their art work for a special assignment.  I asked a few of them if I could take their picture with their art work. This dear student had a dry sense of humor and decided to have fun with me.

It was important to see the art in my students, because I found I  was inspired by the talented people I was teaching. I was in awe of their unique gifts and talents.


Knowing how talented my students were worked for me, because it made it so easy to teach them.  When they knew that I knew how gifted they were…they usually did their very best work for my assignments.


I loved working with them and reminding them of the art -the goodness- found within them.


There is value in finding the art in others!

A Quilter and Her Quilts


I met Lottie while doing a service project. She stole my heart when she showed me a few of the quilts she’s made over the years.


A Cathedral Quilt made by hand and hand quilted by Lottie!

At the top of the picture and underneath the cathedral quilt was a queen size handmade yo-yo quilt.  I do not have a full picture of the yo-you quilt to show you.  Both quilts were stunning!


Hand embroidered and hand quilted by Lottie.



The Sun Bonnet Kids


 A pot holder Lottie made and gave me the last time I saw her. I love the blue shades she used on this project and her masterful points are sewn to perfection. It’s so cool!

Fun with Flannels


Two small flannel quilts made with scrap fabric.

A few years ago, I was determined to use as much of my flannel scrap fabric as I could.  I pulled out the book pictured below, Little Quilts All Through the House written by Alice Berg, Mary Ellen Von Holt, and Sylvia Johnson and picked out two patterns.  I enjoy working with flannel because the fabric is easy on my fingers when I am quilting.  Both quilts went together quickly, were machine pieced, and hand quilted.


I love decorating my house with little quilts.

Hope you’re having a great Day!


The Promise of Spring


I took these pictures a few years ago of a field of flowers growing in Silverton, Oregon.

Something I like about living in Oregon is spring time.  Oregon spring flowers are what the fall and the the changing color of the leaves are to the East Coast.  I am looking forward to Spring this year.

I’ve also been thinking about what happiness means to me in this season of life. It feels like a lot of curve balls in the form of challenging situations have been happening lately.  I’ve been reminding myself daily that my happiness is not based on another person being well or not well, or a diagnosis of a friend’s health, or on a loss, or on a disappointment, or on a betrayal, or how I would have liked life to work out, or how I hoped a plan would go, etc. How nice life would be if all of these things went the way I had hoped they would go. That would make choosing happiness so easy.

However, when life is hard and things don’t turn out the way we planned, we can choose how much we let a situation color how we see the world. What I know is I can choose happiness even when things haven’t turned out the way I liked. I’m accepting that life is a discovery of  things I never thought were going to happen. I’m growing in confidence that I can roll with how life is evolving even if it doesn’t make sense to me. I can be happy in the midst of a hard situation, because my happiness is not based on others or something outside of me. It’s a stance of inner integrity I can make on my own, and I can stand in that place in peace.


There hasn’t been any snow in my area this year…but we’ve had a bit of rain. The mild temperatures are making a difference. These flowers are not in bloom yet. I’m looking forward to what will be growing in this field this year!


I know spring is on it’s way, because there are bulb flowers for sale outside of grocery stores. And on a walk today, I saw a cherry tree with it’s first blossoms.  Don’t give up hope…spring is not far away!

Antique Morning Star Wall Hanging


Peach Colored Morning Star Wall Hanging

This wall hanging is 38″ x 39″ and is made with antique morning stars that are each hand pieced. The edges are machine sewn in place. After it’s quilted, this wall hanging is for sale at the STORE found on the tab bar above.  If you would like to make this quilt your own, email me at marionberryquilts@gmail.com.


The four stars were given to me by a friend.


I will be updating the marking design on the outer edges before I put it in the frame.

**If you are looking for a good home for your extra antique material, pieces of an antique quilt, a quilt that was started and you want to get rid of the extra fabric, I would happily take them off your hands. Email me at marionberryquilts.com, and we can make a plan**

Unblock Me!


San Juan Islands Vacation Quilt

There is a gaming app called Unblock Me! which is a simple game from the past that is now an electronic game of moving block pieces around to unblock, or open, a pathway to a new challenge on the next screen.  Metaphorically speaking, I’m feeling like I hit an Unblock Me! new screen with my quilting projects by finishing a few of the past quilt projects. Tops I’ve sewn a few years ago are surfacing, being completed, and new ideas are percolating.  It’s an exciting time.

This 16 block vacation quilt was done with fabric markers. Children of all ages can do a project like this.  At the time, we had one child in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school.


Fabric markers worked great. When each block was finished, I ironed the block or put them all in the dryer for 20 minutes to set the design.


I started the quilting this vacation quilt using a hoop several years ago and have just transferred it to the quilting frame to finish quilting a few more blocks and the edges.


I don’t recommend moving quilts started in a hoop to a frame.


I put this quilt in the frame, because I finish more projects when they are in a frame then in a hoop, and I wanted to quilt the edges with more ease.


I was actually surprised that there weren’t any bumps, lumps, or uneven areas moving the top to the frame. It is laying just right in the frame!


It’s a fun memory!


Wishing you many Unblock Me! moments!

Keep Going


Antique Joseph’s Coat Quilt Top

Whatever you’re up to today, Keep Going!  It’s Wednesday and mid-January…and I want to encourage you to keep going!  What you do matters and is making a difference!

I love the antique fabrics used with this pattern and the unique shape of the Joseph’s Coat pattern. I’m still deciding what I want to make with this antique quilt top. It’s not large enough to be a single bed quilt.  What would you make with it? I have 10 or more antique tops to show you. So, check back for more pictures!

What I’m Working On…

Something for Wes


When this guy was younger, I used to embroider him sweatshirts that looked like this…


Now that he is going to be 21 this year, it’s time to finish the quilt I started for him a year ago.


I’m using the pattern called My Guy that I found at a fabric store in Eugene, Oregon called Piece By Piece.


Here are a few pattern options.


I’m using these fabrics and others.


Using my felt board, I am working on the layout for the fourth row now.

Wes said he’d like it hand quilted, because it would make it more personal.  I’ll post pictures of the progress I’m making finishing the top and starting the quilting process.



Hope you’re having a great day!

Star Baby Quilt


This star baby quilt was made for friends of our family who were expecting their first baby.  The top was machine pieced done in Royal blue and off white flannel fabrics, and each section had it’s own unique hand quilting design.  I was happy with how this quilt came together!

Hope you’re having a great day!