This is really my work in progress: my class on Critical Thinking, and here’s a stack of books I’d assembled to cull through, glean from.  But in the end I found as much help from the textbook I used when I went to this class as an undergrad, and so dragged that out (now where’d I put all those notes?) and feel quite a bit less panicky. But doesn’t the desk where I quilt look smart with all those book on argument stacked up?

This was the work in progress over the weekend.  A measly bitty border block for the Lollypop Tree quilt.  Actually I sewed three of these baby blocks, feeling quite impressed with myself.  (A side effect of spending too much time thinking about my class is the desire to climb into my jammies as I arrive home and curl up with a book).  Didn’t Mary Poppins sing that a job well-begun is half-done?  I kept thinking about that as I pulled these out.  At least I’m starting on the appliquéing part.  At the very least.

I assigned my class the task of listening to any one of the four following political speeches: the keynote from the Dem or GOP convention or the nominee’s speech from the same two circuses parties conventions.  So I watched Ann Romney’s speech last night, which led into the keynote of the GOP, Gov. Christie, and sewed on this new EPP block, while my husband and his friend provided the local color and play-by-play commentary.

Then today in class we had a lively discussion on whether or not the students voted, and did they think it important?  A few offered up that they didn’t think it was important, but many felt confused by the propositions on the ballot (we live in California) and what the candidates stood for.  I offered to take some office hours time to help them sort it out so they could decide, but that they had to help do the research.  I purposely keep my preferences under wraps so as not to prejudice them, but really often I feel the same as they.  I’ve decided that voting is a little like the block above, all the pieces coming together to make a democratic whole.  A few other students encouraged the bystanders to take their vote seriously.  I was really happy about that. And as I look at this block, I can see I’ve got some rearranging to do up there.

The last thing for this work in progress post (posted soooo late in the day) is this wonderful birthday card my nephew made for his daughter Charlie on her 7th birthday.  I love all the stylish dogs and puppies.  Very fun to look at it.  And yes, he got his masters in art, and works for a fashion design firm in New York City.

His wife is equally talented (that’s one of her photos, above), and her blog, Found While Walking, always has the most beautiful bouquets of flowers, gathered up mostly from her garden.

Okay, this post is a little off of quilt topics, and yes, it’s a stretch for my brain to even work tonight (I’m already in the jammies), but this weekend is Labor Day and I plan to labor all day at the sewing machine, stowing away the books and distractions to really enjoy my Labor Day holiday.

Happy Labor Day to you too.  Now head back over to the Freshly Pieced blog — guest hosted by Michelle of City House Studio — to see other Works In Progress.

My Head’s in a Book. . . or Two

I should be annotating the readings I assigned to my students with my brand new colored pencils, but instead my brain’s rebelled.  It is Saturday after all, and I need a break.

Remember the exhibit I was all gaga over at Long Beach?  Well, the twelve-by-twelve group has put out a book, Twelve By Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge, and it arrived in my mailbox this week.

There’s so much in here, and I’ve just barely started reading.  They have an overview of each theme, and have featured one quilt from that collection and the artist that created it.  We get to learn about her methods, ways of working, how she approached the idea and how it percolated in her mind.

Some of my favorites from the exhibit are featured, as well as an overview of how they all got together.  The Leader of the Pack found a website where six quilters had embarked on a similar project.  So she then asked twelve quilt artists that she knew to try this themed approach to working.  I’ve been chatting with Rachel and we think we’d like to try, and although we know we are certifiably nuts to add one more thing to our lives, the idea of trying new techniques and ideas in a small space (a quiltlet, if you will) is appealing.

We all have Too Much To Do, for sure, but I keep thinking of that old refrain I have heard more than once–something about the worst thing to live with is regret.  I’ve settled some of my ghosts–doubtful I’ll ever write a novel, or climb Mt. Everest (really doubtful on that one), or go bungee-jumping.  But to pass up on a chance to push the creative edge may be a regret I don’t want hanging around.  I think Rachel and I are still wondering if we want to jump off that Quiltlet Cliff, but if you want to walk to the edge and jump with us, leave me a comment and we’ll start to put together our own group.  You have to agree to a deadline, but it will be well-labeled.

The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking is the second book that came this week (banner week for books, I know!) by Jane Brocket.  Betty, a reader, and I were talking (“emailing”) about a quilt titled the Swimming Pool quilt, shown here on the cover, a lush compilation of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  The whole book is filled with quilts like this, in moody atmospheric settings.  I mentioned to Betty that sometimes these illustrations drove me nuts as I wanted Full! Color! Pictures! of the quilts so I could really study them.

But the quilts are so beautiful I put up with this inconvenience.  She’s quite descriptive in her ideas, methods and even fabric lines used.

At the end of the book, she includes this visual index of the quilts, but. . . I still wanted them larger, esp. since it’s a hardback book. It’s published by C&T, which publishes most of my favorite quilt books.

And lastly, I have my 100th quilt back from the quilter, and am sewing the binding, sleeve and label on.

More photos when I can get my husband to finish his Donna Leon book–we’re feasting on them currently, our heads always with Detective Guido Brunetti, solving crime in Venice.  My husband is on #12 in the series; I just finished #8 (I’m trying to catch up).  This fall we’re headed to Northern Italy, with a stop in Venice, but in reading these books, I feel like I’m already there.

WIP–Summer Treat Quilt Top

Many thanks to Rebecca, who is subbing for Lee at Freshly Pieced, for hosting our WIPs. Click on the link to be taken back over to that site to see others who are sharing their Works In Progress.

Summer Treat Quilt Top is done.  But it is still a work in progress, as now I have to decide borders.  I was visiting with my friend Tracy the other day, and we agreed that we go great guns on a quilt until we get the borders, then its hem and haw and puzzle and finally cut something out and slap it on. Kidding.  Sort of.  I suppose we all have that place where quilting is hard.

Get out your sunglasses.  Scrappy Stars came back from the quilter and I’m in the process of putting on the binding.  I’m still not sure about that name, but can’t think of a better one right now, so like those nicknames from childhood that some people get — like Bubba, or Winky or Elmo or Beezer —  it will probably stick.

I finished up Deb’s Far Flung Bee Blocks.  She’d asked for this block with a grey fabric as the contrast.  Since I’m generally a grey-fabric-hater, I had to really hunt for some grey fabric in my stash.  But I did! and sent these off at the beginning of August.  One of the “rules” of our Bee is that the fabrics come mostly from our stash, so it’s kind of a fun challenge as well to not rush out and buy something.

I also made some row markers, seen on my blog travels somewhere.  *Here’s another version* of them.

Buy yourself some floss bobbins-these little white plastic tab things found on the knitting/embroidery aisle at JoAnn’s.  I laid them out and put decorative washi tape on them, cutting in between each bobbin.

Wrap the tape around and smooth it down.  I wrote the numbers on the front and back of the row markers, and on the front I put an arrow to remind me which way to press my seams, as I’m one of those who presses her seams to the side, and can never remember  — when I’m assembling a quilt top — which way to press.

They work pretty well, I must say.

They kept out of the way when I was sewing the rows together.  Usually I’ve used a post-it note pinned to the quilt, but I’m converted to these now.

And last, here’s a gallery of some recent fabric purchases.  Most were from Long Beach, but that layout on the bottom left is from when a friend bought some Riley Blake — 15 bolts worth — so when my daughter was here we turned my dining room into a fabric shop, cutting and chatting and making plans.  That’s what I do when I see new fabric. I make plans.

Here’s hoping your quilting, cooking, end-of-summer, play plans all come to fruition, leaving you with lots of fun projects, good things to eat and a host of good memories.

Long Beach–Final Post

It’s the final post because it’s time to move on, maybe moan about the first week of school where my classroom was 83 degrees.  Whose idea is it to begin school in the middle of August, anyway?  Okay, enough moaning.  Here is the final set of quilts.

I wrote some time ago about the Masters Books, and my lucky day arrived, for they had sample albums related to the published works.  The quilts could jump off the page and I could touch and see and figure out how they did things.

Alice Beasley’s wonderful portrait.

On the left, are some pieces of fabric that Beasley used, and on the right, Beatrice Lanter’s sample.

There’s my thumb on her sample, just so you can appreciate the scale.  Teensy-weensy little squares.

This sample on the right is from my favorites: Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade.  If this post weren’t so photo-heavy, I’d paste in some more of their work, but use the link above to the Masters Book to see more.

ConText, by Pat Kroth

I keep thinking that little white strip of text looks like the flag in a Hershey’s kiss candy.  Maybe it was time to break for lunch, which I did.  While eating a (lame) salad (the food at the convention center is in dire need of an overhaul!), I received a text that my son had gotten a job!  So the title of this quilt, based on the idea of texting, had resonance for me.

Ladybug Garden, by Collen Harvey in the Hoffman Challenge series of quilts.

Detail of the quilting and fabric use.

This quilt is from where my mind was feeble and I completely forgot to get info about it.  If anyone knows, leave a comment and I’ll update.  It’s a shame not to acknowledge such an interesting quilt.  Please forgive.

My Friends Made Me Do It, AKA Starlight Garden, by Betty Brister
She has great friends, if this is the result.  Detail below.

In her artist’s statement, it comments on the supple stems and perfect circles. Here’s a detail version of those.

M. C. Bunte was driving across the Indiana countryside during an approaching storm.  As she watched, a shaft of sun lit up a small church and the surrounding trees.  In this quilt, Shelter in the Time of Storm, she felt it was a message that even when “situations appear threatening, hope — God’s protection for the spirit — exists.”

She had quilted what looks like text into the fields of crops, but I can’t decipher what it says.

Pamela Druhen created this exquisite small quilt that just pulled me in like some of the larger, showier quilts can not.  She used the techniques of dye-painting, free-motion embroidery and free motion quilting to create Vas-Y, which according to her artist’s statement means “Let’s go!” in French (since it is a French bicycle).

Detail of Vas-Y.

This quilt, titled Totally Insane, is from the Nearly Insane book by Liz Lois.  The maker, Loretta Duffy, wanted to recreate the 1879 Salinda Rupp quilt that, according to her artist’s statement, is composed of 98 blocks.  Working with such small pieces, like block #18, which contained 229 tiny pieces, was quite a challenge, but nothing compared to the satisfaction of seeing the completed work.”   I’d be totally insane, too, if I tried this.

I don’t know which one had 229 pieces, but all of them are heavily pieced blocks.  It was an amazing quilt and always had a crowd around it.

Carol Bryer Fallert became famous for her impeccably pieced flying geese in loop and swoops and swirls over the face of her quilts.  She continues her pristine piecing in Checks & Balances, which is machine pieces, machine quilted and painted.

Did I mention she was known for her machine quilting, too?  Amazing.  Those cloth shadows really make the figures feel dimensional.

First, notice the interesting binding — it’s turned to the back, leaving a clean edge on the front.

Since Connie Fahrion’s quilt has a lot going on (but it was wonderful to look at in person) I think her choice of the clean edge was masterful.  She says the design source for A Fine Pastry came from “the desire to depict how it feels to be part of a communication gone wrong. . . . A poor choice of works, misunderstanding all around and, voila! you have created, as my Italian neighbor would say, ‘un proprio pasticcio’ — a fine pastry.”

I’m a sucker for text in art.  Yessirree.

Since I’m the kind of person who always wants to know “how did you do that?” I tend to focus on technique.  Sometimes this frustrates, like when I’d like to create a text quilt like the one above and I don’t feel I have the artistic chops to do something like that, but other times my interest in technique lets me appreciate a quilt like this one by Helen Godden, titled Good Onya Sonya Onya Bike!  This hand painted, whole cloth quilt allows the free motion quilting to really shine.

Annette Guerrero in her quilt, Gridlock, used a two-line motif in the shape of a modified T to create her quilt.  From the smallest to the largest piece, you can see the T-construction.

Cool quilting, too, carrying out the theme of the grid.

Mrs. Lindberg’s Neighborhood, by Martha Lindberg.
Apparently she designed this quilt, then started a house swap with some friends, inspired by a quilt she saw at the Dallas Texas Quilt Show.  Her friends’ blocks, and her own houses, populate this neighborhood.

Nice quilts we weren’t supposed to photograph.  Or maybe it was okay to photograph them, but I was too tired to get all the info about them.  Even though you might feel like you’ve seen every quilt in the exhibit, trust me. . . there were a lot I didn’t put in these posts.

Danielle Reddick, from Picton, Ontario, Canada was inspired by the fields in rural Prince Edward County to make Sunflower Heart for Alice, in honor of her daughter’s 21st birthday.

I’m including two detail shots because it’s not until you look at for a while that you realize you are seeing cut-up cast-off shirts.  Note the button-front, above, and the pockets, below.

Eat Your Vegies, by Judith Roderick, a long time vegetarian.

I love her quilt even though she misspelled “vegies.”  It’s veggies, if you are going to abbreviate it, but I have to admit that’s one of my “fingernails-scraping-on-the-chalkboard” words.  I hate it.  But I love this quilt!

Springtime in the Garden, by Mary Schneider, uses raw edge machine appliqué along with hand appliqué to create this sublime field of flowers.  She made some changes to a pattern, to put her own stamp of originality on this creation. (I wished she’d given us the source of her inspiration, though.)

Pretty sure there was an exhibit on text, as there does seem to be quite a few quilts using letters and words in the design.  This one, The Word Gets Around, by Louisa Smith, uses commercial fabrics that she manipulated by painting, dyeing and overdoing to obtain the colors she wanted.  Her idea for the quilt came from the fact that “our lives are surrounded by text. . . [in] newspapers, advertising and street signs.”

The backside of her quilt.

Gaudi Star, by Lisa Walton  Influenced by the architecture of Anton Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain.

This is one of those quilts where the the parts are greater than the sum.  The parts (above) are fascinating, both in the use of shape and color and the screen printing which she did. Really beautiful, up close.

Terry Waldron is a favorite quilter of mine, a local gal who has had some fame and success, but still found time to write me a congratulatory note when she saw my quilt hanging in a show.  So I thought it good to end these few posts with not only a lovely quilt, but a lovely quilter.  The title of her quilt is A Gentle Heart, based on George Herbert’s statement, “A gentle heart is tied with an easy thread.”

This quilt is hand appliqued, hand beaded and machine quilted.

What do you feel like after you leave a quilt show?  A lot of times my wallet and my hands hurt from gathering up treasures from the vendor malls.  But aside from that, are you inspired?  Overwhelmed?  On overload?  Me, too.  And then it’s time to climb back into our lives, into the reality that we don’t have enough time or energy to make all those quilts we dream about, so we just choose what we can and make what we can.

But it’s always great when a quilt show comes around.

Long Beach Quilt Show: Log Cabins

I’m just sneaking in a little slide show here before I finish up the Long Beach quilt posting.  This collection of quilts belongs to Claire McKarns, who has been “collecting, buying and seeling antique quilts for 30 years.”  Most of the makers are unknown, but they date from the late 1800s on up into this century.  A special note to one of my favorites (shown below, but above the slide show).

I especially like that modern touch of high voltage cables and plugs decorating the bottom border of the quilt.  Enjoy the slide show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some information on the names and the patterns are found *here* and *here* (you can also search the web for more).