EPP: A Shared Gift

Because I am a complete quilt dork, loving nearly all things quilting, I love looking at my very first completed English Paper Piecing (EPP) block.  I love how I can use the fabric to make a secondary design.  I love how I can sit and watch Downton Abbey or a movie or talk to my husband, and at the end I have another something to show for the time. I love how I learned it from Krista, and how she shared with me how to put it together, and how I went to other blogs and quilters and friends, enjoying the fruits of sharing from this community of quilters.

I suppose my enjoyment is kind of all stitched together with the trip to the surgeon’s office today, and when he said, “Have a nice life.  You’re all done,” I thanked him, hopped off the table, got dressed and zipped out the door, with only a bandaid (instead of a bulky gauzy dressing) on the healing wound site.  I called my husband to tell him the news as I sat in the parking lot.  I know I’m an easy-to-cry person so I wasn’t too surprised by the tears that followed, streaming down my face as I sat there in the warm sunshine, thinking about my little journey of the last two-plus months, and getting that advice from the doctor.

So, I pass it on to you.  Have a nice life.  Finger some cloth.  Sit in the warm sunshine for a few minutes.  Enjoy those skills that you are developing, or have developed, in making something of yourself to leave behind if the have-a-nice-life line doesn’t materialize at the surgeon’s office, and you realize, like Sir Launfal, that all we ever have in this life is what we share.  So, just today, I share my first EPP block with you on this very normal, this very poignant day.

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Lines from James Russell Lowell’s poem: “The Vision of Sir Launfal:”

Not that which we give, but what we share,–
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who bestows himself with his alms feeds three,–
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.

(Presidents) Day in LA

My mother often says, “A change is as good as a rest,” meaning sometimes just getting out of the house and doing something different — a change — does a body good.  So we took off early to LA, and while I didn’t really expect to do anything “quilty” I did run into several design things that made me think about quilts.

These screens are from the Japanese Pavillion, the light coming through the windows in soft waves of grays and silver.  The whole pavillion is quiet and calm and filled with interesting angles and objects.

My husband and I also played hide and seek behind this giant stack of plates.  I was talking to a friend the other day and said about all they could write on my tombstone for accomplishments is washing 1.4 million dishes in my lifetime.  Some days don’t you feel invisible to the world?  I do.

Then we enetered the Pacific Standard Time exhibit, where they had this fabulous Airstream trailer.  Take It Easy, it says.  Yep.  I needed this day out.

Textiles were part of the modern design that was evolving mid-century.

Couldn’t you use this as a map for a quilt?  Half-square triangles, 30/60 triangles, curvilinear shapes balanced against grids.  Delicious.

This all-over textile is more interesting when you focus on the detail.

More half-square triangles.  And dots.

This bathing suit is called Swoon.  It was made during the war in 1942, as there was rationing on rubber.  Which means: no elastic.  So the designer used the laces to adjust the form to the wearer.

Here’s the exhibition tag.  Given that so many quilters are swooning over the recent Swoon quilt block design out on the market right now, I loved the parallel names, although they are very different.  Did you know that Catalina, another prominent swimsuit manufacturer was the original sponsor of the Miss America Pageant?  Maybe that’s why they always had swimsuit competitions.

More swimsuits.  Don’t you just love these?  (And guess what we had later for lunch?  Lobster rolls!!  They had a series of food trucks parked outside in affiliation with the exhibit, and we ate at the Lobsta Truck.)

That wooden bench in the background is so intriguing with all its cutout wood pieces all fit together like a . . . quilt.

Yep.  A hexagon barbeque pit.

Which leads me to this.  My husband drove out to LA (it’s about an hour from our house on a good day with no traffic) and I was able to stitch on my rose window block–hexagons!  Sometime I’ll have to get a good shot outside so you can see the colors.  I’ve only made one mistake in putting pieces together, which is okay with me.

So, I had a change.  Which is as good as a rest.  I’ve ignored the grading in the briefcase because it’s a holiday and I’ll have an extra day to get it done.  I’m off now to cut another rose window hexagon–I want to be sure and something to stitch on for Downton Abby tomorrow night!

Happy Presidents’ Day Weekend!

Bits & Pieces

WIP Wednesday–here we are again.  This is a good mid-weekly progress check every week, and many thanks to Lee of Freshly Pieced for hosting us all.

Well, I met a goal.

For two months, goals have been something to hide from or add to a already-too-long list or wistfully stare out the window while contemplating goals.  But yesterday, Valentine’s Day, I met my goal of getting this quilt quilted.  And had I not had to stop to read 50 pages of the novel I’m teaching (Moon Over Manifest), I probably would have had the whole thing done.  But sometimes it’s okay to leave a project at the cusp of completion as it will draw you in for tomorrow.  So, I guess you could say, this is still in progress.  But in a good way, not a moaning way.

And under Krista’s enthusiastic encouragement, I tried my hand at English Paper Piecing.  You know I had an English great-grandmother, who I’m named for (Elizabeth).  So I called up my mother and asked her if my gr-grandmother ever did English paper piecing.  “No,” she said.  “She was a gardener.  She spent any free time she had in her garden.  It was my mother — your grandmother — who was the sewer in the family.”  So, in homage to them both, I’m making something with flowers.

I finished the middle, sewed some more together and attached them to the central flower.  Kind of a stuck space for knowing where to go from here in terms of sewing things together, but IF I can imagine myself as a young bride in the late 1800s far away from my mother and hometown of Bloxwich, England, and IF I were a quilter, carrying forward my mother’s traditions, I’d either have been doing this since I was a child, or I’d figure it out.

I’ll figure it out.

I hope you noticed the new notice on the side of the blog: On Leap Day, check back for multi-blog giveaway.

Now head over to Freshly Pieced and see some more fabulous Works In Progress.

EPP–Rose Window Block

It’s all Krista’s fault.  I’ve been seeing her English Paper Piecing for weeks now, and have really admired them.  But hey folks, is there anyone else out there with too many unfinished projects?  And should I even think about starting another one?

Here’s something else to blame: Downton Abbey.  I justified trying this block because I missed having something in my hands to work on while I watched.  And tonight is another episode, and so I jumped.  Besides I am doing ENGLISH paper piecing, and these ladies’ lovely accents will cheer me on while I get all Britishy and such.  Don’t you love their clothes?

First I followed Krista’s advice and went to Clare’s site, SelfSewn,  to read her tutorial.

Then I went to a site *incompetech* that will print out whatever size hexagon you want.  They tell you that whatever number you put in the size box, your hexagon will be twice that.  I wanted a jumbo, so I put in 2.5, again remembering Krista’s experience that she was wanted a big rose block. I subdivided it, according to Clare’s instructions, then cut the pieces apart with my template ruler.

And then, this wonderfully quiet Sunday afternoon, I pulled out a fat quarter pack from at least two seasons ago, figuring if I fussy-cut it to death, what would it matter?  I was at least getting it out of the cupboard and using it, and besides, I loved this collection from Dena.  Forgive the mediocre lighting and faulty Photoshop skills.

All lined up.  I cut them out, kind of free-handing it, and then realized that the pieces have to go on the BACKSIDE of the fabric.

Better.  I got over the terror of making my fabric into swiss cheese when I was working on my Lollypop Tree.  Which, by the way, I think about a lot and promise to get back to, but I have to completely destroy the studio, and when I’m in school, it’s too hard to clean it all up and get back to grading.  It will keep until summer.

My Rose Window block all laid out.  Now if I can just get this done in my lifetime.  Krista assures me that I can.  Now I’m all set for Downton Abbey!

And here’s my inspiration.  Thanks, Krista!

At the End of a Day

Sometimes at the end of a day, I like nothing to crawl in bed with a quilt book, and relax and think about different aspects of quilting.  One that I’m working through now is  Masters Art Quilts, Volume 2.  Here are some snapshots of what I have been interested by, followed by something grabbed from the web.  (And yes, that is still my red mess of a cutting table–sorry, I’ve been grading!)

I’m in love with quilts by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade, with their combination of photo-realism with quilt symbols such as lines and the grid.  Here’s a picture I found on Google Images:

Another artist which I’d never heard of before, but who I find to be very interesting, is Jan Myers Newbury.  She dyes her own fabrics and uses the tonality of these to build her compositions, of which many elements are seen in some of the Modern Quilt Guild artists working today, with their dependence on blocks of color.

This one is titled Ode to Albers, and it led me to a search for that artist’s name.  Josef Albers liked to place colors against each other to watch how they behaved.  Again–do you recognize this motif of a block within a block? To me a good book makes you want to head to another book, to find out more.  To search.

Beatrice Lanter uses small pieces of colors, working both in harmonies and dissonances to shape her quilts.

Vergngt is the name of this piece, and it’s approximately 43 inches square.  That’s another thing that struck me about many of the quilts I read about in this book was their smaller size.  This isn’t even a lap quilt in size, yet you could get lost in the design.

So when my husband and I are out today on an errand for my grandson (long story) I see this billboard sign, all fractured and shredded by months of painted produce advertisements, ripped off around their staples.  Before I would have just slid past it and into the store, but now I stopped and studied, as it reminds me that inspiration can be anywhere.  Isn’t this a version of a modern mola quilt?  With the top layers cut to reveal the lower layers?  And here’s another shot of what we did today (but don’t tell the grandson–it’s a surprise).

Yes, these are giant dinosaurs.  And yes, PeeWee Herman visited these in his movie.  They’re about 35 minutes from my house.  How random is this, in a quilt blog?

So, I’ve already placed the first of the Masters quilt book in my Amazon cart, and will order that one in as well.  Sometimes my big wish is to really break away from what I’ve done all my life, from the traditional blocks and triangles and just cut, stitch, deconstruct, and find a new way to a quilt.  But do I have the energy?  The vision?  The courage?  I sometimes wonder if I stay on the same track not only because I love it (and I do), but also because I am used to it.

And changing to a new track takes more ardor and zeal that I think I currently have.  But what then, this quote from Leonardi Da Vinci:  “Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.”  And my father’s favorite quote, which became the title of his memoirs, written a few years ago (he’s 86 now):  The place that seems most dangerous is exactly where safety lies.

Quilts on the Bed

I started quilting my Valentine Quilt yesterday and it’s coming along.  Marking it with pencil makes life a whole lot easier.  But here’s two other quilts on the bed currently: the back of my patriotic quilt (the red and white toile), and a cousin to a quilt I made for Heather, a good friend.  It used Lakeside cherry prints and is lap sized.  I love the pillow, purchased on my first anniversary of being married to Dave, my heart-throb of a husband.

I didn’t find him first–but despite the presence of my ex-husband (who, by the way, is divorcing his fourth wife and is writing a book about relationships–just so you know), Dave raised my four children, giving me good support and encouragement.  When we were dating, there was always this realization that our marriage came out of loss, and that perhaps a future splintering might possibly occur.  When I saw this pillow (over 21 years ago), with its sentiment of Real Love Stories Never Have Endings, I had to buy it, because it described my love for Dave.

Okay, that’s the February/Valentine bed.  What’s on yours?