About the Refugees

I don’t ordinarily post on this site news of a controversial nature, so if you don’t want see this, please click on by.  This video was produced by my church and is about the least political statement I could find regarding why the world’s refugee crisis is something that affects us all.

Regular quilting content comes again on Wednesday, with the Four-in-Art Challenge Reveals, but I felt my blog would be a superficial place to visit if you did not know of how the events of this week’s news has affected me as a quilter, as a human.  My husband and I have donated to a couple of places; International Rescue is one.  Many of you are already helping in so many ways: I honor you as you all make this world a better, a more loving place to live.

Road to California Quilt Show, 2017

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The Road to California Quilt Show was held this past weekend, and I think it was my 22nd year of going…or something like that.  The highlights for the first day are found on my Instagram Account ( as well as some found in #roadtocalifornia2017), but here are quilts that I didn’t post up.  road2ca_unknown2

This was the gallery for the Art Abstract quilts, and yes.  They were abstract.  Sometimes it’s helpful just to see how they are laid out.
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I liked the collage effect of this one by Jean Impey, titled Ernestine Benito.  It was started in a class with Susan Carlson, using “Susan’s collage techniques as well as some ‘reckless and raw edge’ appliqué and India Inks.”road2ca2017_jeanimpey

Jean Impey also made Dance in the Wind, started in a class with another teacher who “taught me how to look at something and abstract it, to see things in different colors.”road2ca2017_hahn

Birth of a Storm is by Betty Hahn, who used the “color and movement of the Doppler radar forecasts of tropical storms” as her inspiration.road2ca2017_beach

Orange You Glad I Got the Blues? is by Mel Beach, representing the “influence of improvisation within Jazz music.road2ca2017_blairknight

The tape keeping people out was placed too far out this year, so the only way I could photograph these horses was side-by-side.  The one on the left is White Knight, by Patt Blair.  The one on the right is Wendy Knight’s Here’s Looking’ at You.  I was mesmerized by her quilting, shown in the next images.
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Cynthia England’s Reflections of Cape Town took a year to make and has about 8400 individual pattern pieces in it.  Detail of this is below.road2ca2017_england_2 road2ca2017_bianchi_1

This small quilt, probably 14″ by 18″ is loaded with buttons.  Beacon, by Susan Bianchi, represents her “impression of an antique lighthouse lens and prism.”road2ca2017_bianchi_2 road2ca2017_kona-yellow_1

Kona Fabrics had a series of small quilts (around 16″ square) using that bright lemony yellow from last year (above and below).  There was also a wonderful exhibit by Cherrywood Fabrics of Lion King, but I could never get a good shot at it as people were always looking at them all closely.road2ca2017_kona-yellow_2 sarahannsmith

Peony, by Sarah Ann Smith, is a stunning blossom interpreted in fabric.

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But I couldn’t help constrasting it with the bluesy-purpled Blue Anemone, by Andrea Brokenshire, admiring its use of periwinkle, turquoise and other colors, and that exquisite quilting.

Overall impressions (including these and the images on Instagram): thankfully the use of sparkly bling has fallen to new lows, with the few quilts that did add crystals keeping them to appropriate usage.  Margaret Solomon Gunn’s quilts (here and here) are always exquisite, and I realize that I’m never going to measure up to her long-arm quilting skills.  In fact, I heard the moans of “I’m not good enough” over and over.  Aside from the usual don’t-compare-yourself-to-others cliches that I could offer, I say the only good remedy for that one is to go home and make a one-patch quilt and have something to show for your time, and that will allow you to realize that every quilt has a beauty all its own.  We have quilt shows to admire the best of the best, and the others and to use them to inspire us.

I was very happy to see my friend Simone’s quilts hanging in the show (here and here), as well as other people I know.  Those friendships are what tie us all together in our quilting community.

I didn’t choose a “Most Ugly” quilt this year, although there were several that might have qualified.  And I’ve decided to change that award to “Didn’t Live Up To Its Promise” so as not to offend.

I took two classes; one was awesome and the other — even though the teacher was so nice and knew her stuff–not worth it.  Why?  Because they sent a long-armer to do teaching about quilting on a domestic machine.  And because they made us use machines that were difficult to use, and we spent a ton of time re-threading them, fighting their built-in stitch regulators and waiting for the tech to come.  And because when we showed up, these complicated machines were not threaded or ready for sewing, so we spent nearly 90 minutes of class time getting them up to snuff.

One last gripe: the practice of teachers charging us Beaucoup Bucks for our “kits” of materials that we have at home, for supplies that we already own, and for threads that we don’t care to try.  Unless it’s some specialty item that we wouldn’t think to buy, I’d prefer a teacher include a detailed supply list for us to bring.  Yes, we will buy the teacher’s stuff in class if we forget ours, or hunt for it down on the vendor floor, but I now have another blue marking pen, two spools of thread that I probably won’t use again (I’m a Superior Thread fan) and a 18″ by 44″ marked quilt sandwich.  Those three things cost me $45 (!).

I like having such a high-quality show so close to me, and I enjoy seeing my “yearly” friends.  I heard lots of gripes about no printed showbooks, the cheezy Road to California bag, and no lanyard-style name tag holders (and no, I’m not buying their blue Road badge holder), but I think we were all happy to be there.

Until next year, Road!

 

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Magic Stars Quilt, with Sarah Jane fabrics

It begins here…magicstars_1

…with fabric by Sarah Jane.  A relative of mine fell in love with her work and asked me to make her a quilt for her daughter, who has a name similar to mine.

(I couldn’t say no.)magicstars_2

I found the pattern on Michael Miller’s Website, and followed it exactly. magicstars_3 magicstars_4

I made it over the break between Christmas and New Year’s.  You can see my husband’s nutcracker collection on top of our hutch.magicstars_5 magicstars_6 magicstars_7 magicstars_8picking-up

I trundled it off to my longarm quilter, and she did a quick turn-around.  It’s always a happy day to pick up a quilt from Cathy.  This fabric is very silky, and I enjoyed working with it.magicstars_9 magicstars_10front

And on my birthday, I declare it done!  Happy New Year, Happy New Quilt.  This is Quilt #176 on my list of 200 quilts.  I never thought I’d reach 176 quilts.  If you haven’t started your list, do so now.
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We chose a pattern called “party ribbons” for the quilting, as it fit in with the theme of the fabric.magicstars_12a-back-detail

The backing has unicorns with touches of gilt bushes.magicstars_13-quilting magicstars_14a magicstars_14b

I packaged it up and sent it off, the people in the Post Office helping me find just the right box.

(I love my post office.)

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I didn’t label it because it was going to live at someone else’s home, but if I could, it would look like the one above.
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Rebecca sent me this photo of the quilt on her daughter’s bed.  So glad they both like it!

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Gridsters Bee • January 2017

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IG: #gridsterbee

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Susan of PatchworknPlay starts off our new year of our Gridsters Bee with having us make her some New York Beauty blocks.

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She sent us to a webpage (Ulas Quiltseite–it’s German) that had ten different New York Beauty blocks on it, and we could pick two different ones (if we were making two).

gridsterbee-january-blocksThere was even a block for beginners.  I chose Block #1 and Block #6.

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Helpful tip: These words mean that she split them to get them printed.  You may want to join the outer pieces together so there is no seam.  You’ll see what I mean.

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I always remember Leann’s tips for sewing curved edges together (her quick video *here*): it’s best to put the concave piece on top, and the convex piece on the bottom.  But since I had a curved shape with gazillions of pieces, I reversed it.  Don’t know if that made it harder or easier.gridsters-january-2017_3

The second block had another challenge.  If you go and look at it, you can see I was using striped material, and I didn’t want that stripe to tilt.  First piece on (above), and I don’t glue my foundation paper piecing, I pin.gridsters-january-2017_4

I marked the center of the lower edge of the piece (opposite its point).  I folded my fabric scrap in half lengthwise and line it up with both centers.gridsters-january-2017_4a

Keeping it in place, I fold back one side, mimicking the slanted edge that needs to be sewn.  I finger-press it.gridsters-january-2017_4c

Then using all my skills, I move this carefully to the other side of the unit, holding it up to the light to line up that folded edge where it needs to go.  Sometimes it’s easiest to note where the edges are and adjust from there.

Unfold it, being careful not to move it.  gridsters-january-2017_4d

Stitch on that line, trim seam allowances and continue on.  They all line up nice and vertical.gridsters-january-2017_6a

We make each other signature blocks, using a white 3 1/2″ square and snowball on two 2-1/2″ squares on either corner, using fabric from the blocks we made. (Click on the link to see a how-to, as well as how we’ve used our signature blocks: sometimes on the back and sometimes on the front of the quilt!)

The key to success:  IRON ON A SCRAP OF FREEZER PAPER to the back before writing, as it stabilizes the fabric.  I use a Pigma 08 to write.

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We always write our name, but other things to write could be:

  • IG/blog name
  • month/year
  • hometown
  • name of the bee or why you made the quilt

Looking forward to the rest of year with my Gridster Beemates!

 

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Getting a Perspective on a New Year • 2017

 

My friend Leslie sent me this knitting gnome (so I had to share it with you), and although the holidays are past and gone, I think many of us have been as busy as this little guy, creating and sending them out our quilts and things with a heart full of love.

Here is a composite of What I Did Over the Holidays:

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I made bread from a bunch of gifted persimmons, hugged a sleepy elf (and his brothers) in my kitchen, enjoyed watching my oldest son Chad and my youngest son Peter make home-made pasta for our Christmas Eve dinner, pieced a quilt with Sarah Jane fabrics (always lovely), shopped for a new car (but I didn’t like any of them better than the one I have, so I came home without one), and cleaned up my sewing room (always an event).en-provence_purple-four-patch

I jumped into the En Provence Mystery Quilt, hosted by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville and had fun trying to find the color periwinkle in my stash and in shops, as I decided to slant it that way, instead of the straight purple.en-provence-quilt_bonnie-hunter

Here’s a picture of HER finished quilt–mine is still three clues behind and mostly in pieces.  If you ever needed a good blog post to encourage you to save your scraps, *here* it is, courtesy of Bonnie.halloween-1904_front

But I do have one finish I can share.  I finished up the binding (my quilter did the quilting) on my Halloween quilt.  I’ll be updating the final post of the Quilt-A-Long on this pattern to include these two photos (front is above and back is below), but I wanted to say…halloween-1904_back

…Happy Halloween to you all!

But wait.  Isn’t it January?  Full of snow and storm and putting away the holiday boxes?  Watch this:

If you can’t see the video, it’s the Selective Attention Test; you can watch it on my blog.

This is how I feel when I’m working on something not in the season it’s intended for.  I’m am distracted/entranced by the cues all around me. In July, I see red, white, blue, stars, stripes, but not green pointy growing things called Christmas trees.  In April, it is flowers flowers flowers and complete absorption into planting my summer garden.  It is nearly impossible for me to focus on turkeys and fall decor.  Or snow.  As a result of this focus, I rarely see the proverbial gorilla among the basketball players.

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Perspective, exhibit A

Yet so many of us work “out of season” in planning, buying and creating that I thought I’d look into it.  The 99U article (where the video is found) noted that “We see the world, and our work, through countless lenses of assumption and habit—fixed ways of thinking, seeing and acting, of which we’re usually unconscious.”  The author, columnist Oliver Burkeman (a personal favorite of mine), observes that “This urge toward making things unconscious is a blessing if you want to do the same thing, over and over, ever more efficiently. But it becomes a problem when we’re called upon to do things differently—when you hit a roadblock in creative work, or in life, and the old approaches no longer seem to work.”  He suggests using physical or temporal distance to get perspective, to get past that creative block.

When you use physical distance, you institute physical distance from your creative problem, such as when you take a break from piecing or quilting to look at Instagram, or take time to research, perhaps see something in a quilt book.  Or you might take a trip and get your best flash of insight while flying over the country.  Research has been done that shows that for many people implementing creative ideas begins with recognizing creative ideas.  While this sounds circular, it’s fairly common: how many times have you read a magazine and decide to add two new quilts to your List of Quilts To Make? You recognize the creative in others, and choose to implement it for yourself.

To proximate temporal distance, Burkeman suggests that we can “externalize our thoughts by writing them down in a journal. The point isn’t necessarily that you’ll have an instant breakthrough, but that by relating to your thinking in this ‘third-person’ way, you’ll loosen the grip of the old assumptions, seeing your thoughts afresh, and creating potential for new insights.”  Sounds like an argument to begin a creative journal to me.

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Perspective, Exhibit B

The title of his article is “You Don’t Need New Ideas, You Need A New Perspective,” and I thought it fitting to start out the new year with this creative idea of perspective.  Now that all our holiday boxes are up in the rafters, the tinsel and glitter and ornaments and the fall boxes with autumn colors are all put away, the minimalist environment we live in come January can provide a clean slate — and a new perspective — for our creative work.

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