Gridsters

The History of Bees

Well, my bees, at least. I recently stepped down from leadership of the Gridsters Bee, but Melanie and Patti (listed alpha order) are the new leaders, and they let me tag along and help out so I won’t go through withdrawal. So as I was organizing, shifting, cleaning out my Google Drive, the list ended up like this:

I’ve participated in fifteen quilt bee groups in the last ten years, often simultaneously. My life has been richer for this and I’ve met so many wonderful quilters. (I’ve met a few cranky women, too.) I met one whose house burned down during the bee and we all donated money to help replace her stash. I’ve met someone who did professional roller skating. I’ve met women like me and not like me. I’ve met quite a few people in Australia, in Canada, and all over the United States. Many others are on Instagram — I love the connections we’ve made and the friendships that continue.

I’ve received some beautiful blocks, some blocks I had to reconstruct and some blocks I couldn’t do anything with at all, but were so interesting, I saved them. Sometimes people put my blocks in their quilts and sometimes they didn’t. I’ve made several Ayumi envelopes, multiple versions of Dresden blocks, and bazillions of HSTs.

Here are some of the logos of some of those bees.

Occasionally I see new bees forming online and I want to say — yes! jump in! make for each other! You’ll learn what blocks you want to make yourself, and you’ll learn which blocks you never want to make again.

At the end of my five years with The Gridster Bee, I put together a slide show of quilts from many of our members, and it was one of the final events of my 2021. I loved that even in spite of the pandiddle (stole that one from Carol — a beemate), at least a dozen of us were cutting and sewing and quilting. Add that to the letters you’ve written telling me about your projects, your intentions for making and I’d say we all made it through the last couple of years in reasonable shape. If you want to see a great array of quilts and blocks, click on our home on Instagram, and enjoy the eye candy.

And here is the launching of Gridster Bee 2022, with a lot of very talented women.

The first blocks were for Patti, who chose Ayumi’s Envelope Blocks (and here, too), but with a twist. We added larger borders on the sides, and chose fabrics that denote romance or love. I had fun choosing.

I’ve drafted up a lot of the Sew-A-Long quilt, and am now making the sample out of Sherri and Chelsi’s fabric, Sincerely Yours. Coming soon. The post-Christmas blahs grabbed me for a while, and of course, we had to eat up the chocolates people brought us. Then there was the going through the ornaments, followed by lifting the holiday boxes up into the garage rafters. Mopping the kitchen floor and cleaning the bathrooms await.

It’s nice to take the advice from my friend Allison who made this for me, since I was leader of Gridsters for a few years. It’s a treasure, with great advice.

Happy Quilting! Take it one stitch at a time.

Happy Old Year Ending (Wrap-up)

Happy Old Year Ending 2021

All the smartie pants people who Know Stuff say we’ll be shuffling through covid for quite some time, and that we just need to practice keeping going. So my usual at this time of year is a round-up of quilts, a way to say, well I wasn’t quite a total slouch in 2021. Evidence follows.

I made nineteen quilts:

Here’s the listing in my Quilt Index–300 Quilts. I thought the photo above of me at our Guild Meeting, wearing a mask and holding the 19th finish (A Tiny Spritz of Elements) was appropriate. We’re back to virtual meetings for the next three months with the Omicron Covid-19 outbreak.

I spent a lot of the time at the computer, writing up eleven new patterns. Sometimes I’d write a Pattern Lite pattern, then keep adding things until it became a full pattern. That happened with Flowering Snowball growing up into Blossom. Others were old patterns, previously released, that needed extensive revision and clarification.

I took only TWO loads to the thrift store, and then they wouldn’t accept a couple of pieces of small furniture. I cooked so much the first year of the pandemic, that I was more hit-and-miss this year, but still averaging 3-4 home-cooked meals a week. We are partial to Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese and whatever can be found in the open-this-bag-and-cook-it aisle of the grocery store.

If I take into account all the “ifs” (Covid-19 rates, masking, health, how the world is turning), I’ll be at Road to take a class and see my quilts in January. Ditto for February’s QuiltCon in Phoenix. Beyond that, you’ll find me in my sewing room, stitching away, writing some more patterns, keeping a difficult balance.

If you are new to this blog, you can find out more about me by reading another Happy Old Year Ending post.

Happy 2022. Happy Quilting!

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

BY RICHARD WILBUR

A favorite poem from grad school, it is thumbtacked over my washer. My wash doesn’t hang out on the lines between buildings, nor does it ever look like angels, but I think we all are trying to keep a difficult balance.

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul   
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple   
As false dawn.
                     Outside the open window   
The morning air is all awash with angels.

    Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,   
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.   
Now they are rising together in calm swells   
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear   
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

    Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving   
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden   
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
                                             The soul shrinks

    From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
And cries,
               “Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,   
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

    Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,   
The soul descends once more in bitter love   
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,   
    “Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;   
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,   
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating   
Of dark habits,
                      keeping their difficult balance.”

Quilts

Merry Christmas 2021

There’s a great line that’s been rattling around in my head lately: “You know, I believe we have two lives. The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.” It’s from a scene in The Natural, a movie which — on the surface — is about baseball.

Richard Rohr acknowledges those two parts of our lives: the first part is learning all the rules, figuring out how to pay attention, learn to earn a living, climbing the ladder of success. Of necessity, it’s oriented to self, getting those tasks of our young lives checked off the lists. I could make this into a quilt analogy, but not today.

But Rohr argues that it’s necessary to learn the rules — not in order to break them — but to move on from them and into the better part of life: opening your heart, taking care of others, trying to meet the needs of those around you, finding out what’s truly important. I’ve been thinking about this not only because of the pandemic for the last 22 months, and how all the rules were suddenly up-ended, but also because of the joy and peace I feel during the Christmas season.

These past months we have had more new rules to learn: social distancing, masks, carrying hand sanitizer wherever we go. We wear our masks to care for each other; we keep our distance to care for ourselves. We work hard to keep sympathies for those too frightened or too confident to get vaccinated. We weary ourselves with the juggling.

The second part of life then is about seeing bigger, from an expanded viewpoint, moving away from self and not seeing things are we are, but as the world is, and navigating that. He reminds us that “life is characterized much more by exception and disorder than by total or perfect order. Life is both loss and renewal, death and resurrection, chaos and healing at the same time; life seems to be a collision of opposites.” The challenge, then, is to make peace with all our opposites and our chaos, and focus in on renewal and healing. (And, of course, quilting.)

At Christmas time, it feels a bit easier, with carols playing and with children and the Christ child at the center. In this pocket of time, we can step all the way back from the rigid and chaotic and disordered life, light our candles and carol our way to peace.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Quilts

Pieced Quilter Ladies: Twelve Ladies Dancing

Aren’t these fun?? Here are my Lady Quilter Blocks, wonky, funny, off-kilter. My early quilter-self would have been aghast, but I love them all. One more is coming. I love the differences, the similarities, and think about how these women will dance across this quilt. In addition to having my beemates make me a lady, I asked them for some sort of sewing-related item (with the exception of the topiary). Most all of these come from the BOM patterns from Surfside Quilters, from 2012-2013.

Surfside Quilters did a challenge with their BOM from that year, and the array of quilts was inspiring. Mine will be much bigger, and when I mentioned this online, Janis tagged me in a photo of her quilt. I have since heard from others–it seems that Freddy Moran (who inspired the pattern) has made a big impact on us all.

I chose a few few patterns to revise for my Gridster Bee quilters to use. I made a special page with all my ladies and their pattern, as well as all the other special blocks my beemates made for me and their patterns. You can find it here:

Pieced Quilter Ladies & Notions

In other news, I revised my Sunny Flowers Quilt pattern to include the pattern for making the center bouquet. The first version had nudged you towards using BlockBase+ software (which I still use constantly), but I always knew I should revise the pattern. The original was a beast to piece, so I revised how to put it together, adding and subtracting seams and pieces. If you have already purchased it, the revised download is available to you at no charge, and your download count will be revised (or so PayHip reassures me).

If you haven’t purchased this yet, PatternLite patterns cost less than any one of my almond croissants I had for breakfast last week when I was in Boston. We ate every morning at Tatte, and sometimes we grabbed a lunch there, too. Tatte Bakery, where have you been all my life and when are you publishing your cookbook?

Kraków Kabuki Waltz, by Virginia Jacobs

Why Boston? I’d read about the exhibit put on by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I’ve posted lots of photos on Instagram, if you are interested, but you also get our trip photos, too. Carol came into town and met us there–she also has some good posts. And Textile Talks had a show with the curator of the Fabric of a Nation exhibit, if you are interested.

Happy Frantically Getting Ready for Christmas, or whatever else is occupying you this week.
Maybe even Happy Quilting? I hope so!

Christmas Quilts · Free Quilt Pattern · Gridsters

Tannenbaum, in construction

Many years ago, my mother stayed up all night on the 24th of December, worried that the child she was carrying would actually come on the due date of Christmas Eve. Who would help the other three young girls? Who would get the ironing done? But I did not arrive on my due date. Nor on New Year’s Eve. But I came 12 days later on Twelfth Night, and dodged forever having my birthday on Christmas. (And she did get up early that morning to get the ironing done before she went to the hospital.) Now I share a birthday with Richard Nixon, the arrival of the Three Kings and the Storming of the Capital.

Why do I bring this up? Because Tannenbaum will most likely suffer the same fate, arriving somewhere around Twelfth Night. It’s because I wanted a longer drop on the sides, and didn’t have enough of the beige fabric (earlier version is seen here). So as long as I was playing around, what would the quilt look like with red? I quite liked it. Many iterations and consultations with my quilt gurus (I have a couple) and I ordered some red fabric from Laundry Basket Quilts. Like me, in my almost early days…this probably won’t be done by Christmas.

Trying it out for size; I like it!

This is where I am now, with the two borders attached (big smiles), the wrinkles that will need to be quilted out in the center, and sideways on my design wall, because it’s too big now to go vertically. (In other words, it looks like it needs its make-up put on, the lipstick applied, and good blow-out for the hair. You know, like all of us in the morning.)

I’m working on the pattern now, and that’s coming along too. But what has arrived?

This one’s mine…you’ve seen it before.

Several of my Piece Maker Quilt Ladies have arrived from the Gridster Bee, along with their cloth sewing treasures, like buttons and rotary cutters and topiary trees. You can read more about this project, written a few whiles ago, but basically I got the idea from Surfside Quilters, from their Blocks of the Month page. I’ve always wanted a Freddy Moran-style quilt, and now it looks like I’ll make one.

To help further this quilt along, I’ve been collecting black-and-white prints to go with other 400 black-and-white prints (dear, I’m kidding). I have discovered there’s a particular kind of black and white print that works with Freddy Moran style quilts, and I think I probably have enough now. Too much white? It bleaches it out. Too much black? A blot in the quilt. Black and white — that when you squint your eyes — turns into grey? Nyet. I think two of the prints above are perfect (on the outer edges) and we’ll see where the others may go.

In keeping with the red theme of today’s post, here’s a treat I want to try: Cranberry Lemon Bars, from New York Times Cooking.

And I’ll see this, next week. First airplane ride in over 20 months (better get it in before Omicron shows up).

But before that, we have to finish putting out my husband’s nutcrackers, arranging the lights on the mini-tree, switching out the quilts, and generally getting ready for the Christmas season. Another work in progress.

Merry Quilting!

In case you want something fun, here’s a free pattern to make this little tree on a frame, from my earlier days of pattern making; still good to go, but not quite as fancy.

And here’s the teeny tree:

More info is here.

And here’s a sneak peak of what I’m working on for 2022. I’m thinking a monthly quilt-a-long, sort of easy, no sign-ups, free patterns, work together, have fun, make a nice-sized wall hanging. And if you can’t deal with any more outside pressure to produce, it’s okay if you just want to grab the patterns and squirrel them away. That’s fine, I’m fine, you’re fine.

I also always make colorful quilts, and this one may go there yet, but I was gifted a little stack of Sherri and Chelsi’s newest line (thanks, Sherri!), and I’m starting there, because — oh my gosh — I do need a cool Valentine-y quilt. So that’s my starting line. I’ve got the first month’s pattern done, but I want to make samples, so you won’t see it until after the holidays. Maybe even by Twelfth Night!

PatternLite · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Something to Think About

Autumn Leaves • PatternLite

Confession: I got caught up in Fall Color. A few particular trees in Southern California and even the leaves on my wisteria arbor are turning yellow, getting ready to drop. In addition, we put together another round of Gridster Bee, and those of us who were experienced thought we should get sample blocks up on the spreadsheet as an example.

I have been hanging on to this screenshot (see how old those IG icons are?) for some time, as I’ve always wanted to do it in a bee. The pattern is a variation of Maple Leaf:

To be precise, it’s Maple Leaf–Brackman #1740, which originally debuted in Aunt Martha’s booklets in the 1930s. Like the Flickr group, above, I changed out the stem so it could be pieced. And is my wont, I wondered if anyone else was interested in this block. I certainly I had a few words to say about how to make up a leaf in autumn colors, so I put it all into a PatternLite, and then up in my PayHip Shop. I also included how to make a Four-at-a-Time Flying Geese block, giving away the secret formula, freeing you from charts forever.

PatternLite Patterns, if you are new here, are not-quite-all-of-a-pattern, for not-quite-all-of-the-price. They are less than a fancy pink drink at Starbucks. They are cheaper than a slice of pizza from that place around the corner from you. They are for those quilters who can see a block and take off with it in their own way, and don’t need comprehensive instructions on construction. But I did do up a couple of sketches for what can be done with this block:

How about a table runner for your holiday table?

Or a quilt? It’s there now in the shop, if you want to grab it.

I had some other ideas, but I will let time work them out for me, or sleep as John Steinbeck noted:

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”

This may take me more than a few nights, I think.

And then there’s this, that’s been rattling around in my head:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” (Steve Jobs)

Lately, I’ve been concerned with sameness, or the inability to make connections between two different things, because so much is all the same.

an “un-same” landscape

If we are mostly in our houses, with our same stashes, in the same room, making those same projects we dreamed up some time ago, where are the differences that allow us to make connections? I think many of us get it through social media, but beware:

from a recent Honors symposium my friend attended

I had been sort of dependent on my Instagram feed for variety and for seeing new things, until I realized that over time the random things I had selected had become more of “the same”–repeating back to me the images I had selected precisely because they were new and different. What with the algorithm changing how we interacted with that media, and the selectivity with which it feeds us our friends’ posts on our feed, what had once fed my need for new and novel things just came unraveled.

When you are traveling in a new space, trying to juggle all that’s coming at you, you make new connections. Perhaps you discover a different way to think about a dilemma, or even how to navigate physical space:

I did eventually make it to TechnoPark-ro, and enjoyed all that I saw. This has been on my mind because of what I’ve noticed in my correspondence, that there’s been a refrain of not feeling enthusiastic about what you used to do. Some describe it in that time-honored way of “lost my sewjo.” I could also describe it as longing for the thunderbolt of a new idea, one that just grabs you and has you on the run to try to express it.

Because I feel like drowning in sameness is a situation to escape, my tactic of late has been to look for old quilt blocks to explore in new ways (hence, Autumn Leaves). I also like seeing new fabrics, other than the same three designers carried by my quilt shop, so recently I went to Fat Quarter Shop to their pre-cuts and read ALL 38 pages of it, learning about what’s coming. I vary my walks around my neighborhood, cook new recipes:

What I call Sushi in a Bowl: sushi rice, salmon, cucumbers, slaw, avocado and dressing

Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative: 1) need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation; 2) need to communicate ideas and values and 3) need to solve problems. A scholarly listing of thoughts about creativity can be read here.

Right brain? Left Brain? Anna Abraham begs to differ: “The brain’s right hemisphere is not a separate organ whose workings can be regarded in isolation from that of the left hemisphere in most human beings. It is also incorrect to conclude that the left brain is uncreative. In fact even the earliest scholars who explored the brain lateralization in relation to creativity emphasized the importance of both hemispheres.” A high level Q & A with her is here.

“As strange as it sounds, creativity can become a habit,” says creativity researcher Jonathan Plucker, PhD, a psychology professor at Indiana University. “Making it one helps you become more productive.” Read about it here.

A quote from an article from my favorite resource, 99U: “Creativity is a skill that allows you to draw understanding of the world around you, connect those observations to your existing knowledge reservoirs, and imagine new applications of your knowledge on the world.” Read it here.

Keep at it, find the new and novel, and keep quilting!

(More info on this one, coming soon!)