Southern Brights–FSF

This is my son Matthew and his wife, Kim.  Sometimes she likes to be called Kimberly.  Other times it’s just Kim.  She’s a bright and sunny personality of a gal, and easily matches my son in energy, determination and love of a good joke.  They’re great.

This is their family, taken at a family camping trip (quickly! and that’s why Emilee has no shoes on), in the mountains above Phoenix Arizona, a place they call their home.  But only for another day or so, because he’s been promoted in his corporate job and they’re off to Cinncinati Ohio.  I love that she would follow him anywhere, so I decided to make her a quilt to honor her love of the Southwest and her bright and sunny personality.

Ta Da!  I give you “Southern Brights.”  It’s a Bento Box block, with lots of wild and crazy fabrics, put together in a bundle by Fabricworm, but of course, I added a few of my own.

My favorite is the little Round Robin fabric with little round robins on it.  I also like the punched-up hugeness of those flowers in the middle.  Change in scale?  This quilt’s got it.  Change in color?  Yep, yep.  Change in value?  Not so much (all medium fabrics) so I threw in some lights and brights to keep the eye moving.

Love the Marimekko fabric on the back, punctuated by a strip of the the Anne Kelle flowers.  Alas, our Crate and Barrel outlet has closed, so now if I want those fabrics, I need to travel an hour and half–instead the previous half-hour.  So I hoard my stash of these, but this quilt just called out for something sunny and bright.

I wish them all success in their new home and new state!

Cowgirls Write Letters

My husband and I lived for a year in Washington, D.C. while he did his sabbatical at the Department of State.  (That’s what they call it.  Most of the rest of us just call it the State Department.)  I investigated any fabric store within reasonable driving distance and one of the ones was Material Girls in La Plata Maryland, about 45 minutes drive from where we lived.  Fast forward a year, and I went back for a visit to see my pal Rhonda, and of course, we had to hit some fabric stores.  Didn’t have a lot of room in the luggage, so I was drawn to the collection of fat quarters they had, and selected as many of this line as I could find.

But what pattern?  Luckily they had a whole rack of Schnibbles patterns, by Miss Rosie’s Quilt Company, and Rhonda and I each chose a couple of them.  I decided on this one, Decoy, then enlarged the blocks, cut them out, and had to piece the border because I was running out of fabric.

But what backing?  Of course it had to be a Western theme.  The cowboys were heavily represented on the front, so I went with the women on the back.

And I had lots of letter fabric, so I envisioned them all out on the plains, posting letters to each other as they herded the cattle wherever cowboys and cowgirls herd cattle.

We all know that the ladies are more frequent letter writers than the men.  So I titled it, Cowgirls Write Letters.  I made it extra tall for my own cowboy to use while he watches his spaghetti westerns on the television.  Thanks, Carrie, for such a great pattern!

Doing Nothing But Making A Mess

This is WIP Wednesday, hosted by Lee of Freshly Pieced Quilts, who is fabulous and writes us all a thank-you note for posting.  My mother and grandmother salute you, Lee!  (As do I.)

Let’s start with a quote from Andrew Wyeth, a great American painter, culled from the Brandywine River Museum when I visited last fall:

“I dream a lot.  When I’m doing nothing is when I’m doing the most.  Sometimes when there is great tension, or lots taking place, I may get an idea or an emotion, and it hits me strong.  I let it build in my mind before I ever put it down on the panel.  Sometimes I do my best work after the models have gone away, purely from memory.  (1996)”

I’m kind of in a fallow period right now as well. It’s time to make the shift from an all-quilt life to a life shared with the papers and detritus of my real job: an adjunct professor.  I’ve been quieter here on the blog, not because I haven’t lots to share, but I had to get that pesky syllabus over to the Copy Center on campus, as well as the Get To Know You form for the first day.  We’re also slipping out to a family reunion and a camping adventure in a National Park before I start back up again, so I’ve been doing the regular things like getting the car prepped, tires checked, laundry.  Well–you’ve all been on vacations and you know what’s involved.  Perhaps because of this, I relate to Wyeth’s comment “when there is great tension, or lots taking place”  it’s hard to be creative.

But since these Wednesday posts are about Work In Progress, I give to you my WIP: cleaning up the sewing room.
No lie.

Another lovely view.  Sometimes I just pile the stuff here and there, making way for that next project.  I’ve been trying to finish up a few things (two more coming in the next couple of weeks–on Fridays), yet you can see on the corner of my elevated cutting table a stack of reds and whites.

The Red/White Challenge finished ahead of schedule!  Here they all are, with my block on the top.  I have them up on the pin wall, just percolating there as I think very sweet thoughts about the women who took a chance on me and my quirky idea.  September 1st is the deadline for the Temecula Quilt Company’s “quilt show” and I want to have something new to add.

Somehow the idea of a table runner keeps popping up.  This book is an inspiration.

Blocks on point, bordered by a log-cabin type of block?

Or with a checkered block in between them?

I’m going to let it rest while we do family stuff for a while, and see what comes up after things simmer down.

Come A-Round: Finishing School Friday

Come A-Round is finished.  This has lived in our house under many names: Crop Circles, Dotty Quilt, Elizabeth’s Masterpiece, That Quilt.  But its real name is Come A-Round. *This* is how I came up with the name.

I finished the top and sent it to the quilter, Cathy Kreter, who quilted the central fan-like circles, and the spaces in between them.  She also ran a line of stitching on the dark green stem and the outer edge.  I was to take over from there, but it went back to her to tackle the middle of the circles–a space about 2″ in diameter, which I couldn’t quilt because of so many layers.  Then back to me and I did the rest of the details.  It’s a good partnership.  The back fabric is about perfect for machine quilting: lots of tiny dots in all colors that hide a multitude of sins.  Just not green thread branches, and no, I didn’t pick them out.  I knew that if I turned back at that point, it would never be finished.  At least not by the end of summer.  And sometimes good-enough-but-done is better than perfect-but-undone.

The circle is simple in its geometry: one continuous looping whole.  Yet most of our lives feel more like jagged peaks on an EKG monitor with little blips of up and down in a rhythmic pattern–peaks and valleys that indicate there’s a life going on–that a heart is beating.  So when my husband’s sister called us early Monday morning with a voice full of peaks and valleys, so different from her usual and we heard the news about her young adult son gone too early, the rhythmic pattern of heartbeat stilled by his own hand, my husband and I sat together quietly for a long while afterward.  The silence between us was thick with emotion and sadness and wondering about whatever could have gone wrong?  We’d start a question, then pause mid-thought, not really knowing where we were headed, but knowing that there was no easy path around this sorrow.  This circle had been rent, broken.

My husband called our eldest son, and now his voice echoed his sister’s; as we called each of our children, we took turns pausing to let the emotion fall away so we could continue with the necessary news.  We went about our day.  We sat stunned.  We fixed dinner.  We took a walk.  We kept talking, thinking about Scott’s widow and his two young daughters.  The couple had recently separated and we wondered how we could let her know that no one blamed her.  I made a cake.  We were more gentle with each other.  We lingered outside after dinner on the patio, the sun falling into darkness.  Then the phone conversations turned to funeral arrangments.  Then the task of travel arrangements, and my voice cracked as I tried to arrange flights, blessing the kindness of the faceless voice on the other end of the line.  We talked with our children: life is fragile.  As people of faith, we believe we will see him again: whole.  After a few days the jagged peaks and valleys of those initial numbing hours leveled out.

It’s really a circle, this thing we call life.  The idea is not a new one, and certainly has a myriad of cliches to accompany the idea: one eternal round, the wedding ring’s symbolism, death to life and back to death again.  You name it, you’ve heard it.  But at the end of the day, we are all encircled about by a sense of going forth and returning, a feeling of beginning and ending, yet sometimes the lines that create those divisions are so subtle that they fade away.  What we send out, we see in return.  What is born, dies.

There’s a famous passage in the Bible, in Ecclesiastes, about a time for everything.  I looked it up again today and interestingly, in among the weightier references of death and life, mourning and laughter, peace and war, it notes that there is a time to rend, and a time to sew.

This week, I sewed circles.


How fun is this?  The mail lady rang my doorbell and gave me this lovely package all the way from Australia.  I practically grabbed it out of her hands.

And look what was inside–these lovely Shoofly blocks from Kay from Down Under.  She has a funny story (which she gave me permission to relate) about these blocks.  Seems she had them all completed and ready to send off when her niece spotted them in her sewing room.  She grabbed them and gave the dogs a bath with her aunt’s “pretties.”  So Kay sent off for more fabric, and remade them.  I’ll always think of this story when I look at these blocks.  The dedication of the quilters in this red and white challenge impresses me over and over again.  Thanks, everyone!!