Four-in-Art Dead Space


Okay, is it horrible to mention that I just now am starting to distill my ideas about this project? I usually like to have some trimming and editing of my thought, but for today, here’s my raw footage of this breaking news.  I know Betty is all done with her quilt, and last time, when Rachel chose the theme–my idea just popped into my head and I was off like a rocket.  But this time, even though I chose it, I’ve not had space enough to think about the art of this idea.  It’s that old, “too many irons in the fire puts out the fire” sort of syndrome.

I’ve started teaching Literature again and there’s a poem titled “Won’t Let Go”  by Albert Goldbarth that haunts me and I love it (not so sure the students do, but they put up with me since I am the grownup) and it talks about the cycle of life being never ending. It begins with Death throwing open her closet door and wanting to wear that little black dress, moves through ancient cultures and their sacrifices to the gods so that the rain and the sun would help their crops to grow and ends with a birthday party at McDonald’s where the speaker imagines Ronald McDonald as a “popish raja” with electricity shooting out the ends of his hair. It’s a wild romp through those rituals that keep coming round again, and ends with the line about a tree with “one black leaf for everyone,” returning again to the theme of death being ever present, a ritual none of us will escape.  Won’t let go, indeed.

Cheerful stuff, you say. But we get notices all the time in our school mailboxes about so-and-so’s wife dying, I’ve had my own brush with cancer, and at my age, way past the baby showers and teenage storm und drang, funerals and doctors visits and mortality and death seem to be woven into the fabric of my life. So, while I’m not really in a morbid state of mind, this idea keeps reverberating around in my life that this idea of ritual, that there is “one black leaf” for everyone. I’d like to try and do something with that.


And then again, I may do some pretty tree with pink blossoms, if this proves too difficult, like this quilt, above.  (This is Spring Blossoms by Terry Aske, which I love!)

200 Quilts · FAL · Finishing School Friday · Quilts

Into the Woods!

Into the Woods front

Into the Woods is finished–my first finish in the FAL hosted by Leanne.  I blogged about how bogged down I was in my entry FAL, so it’s nice to be able to go out to the front porch, have my husband hold it up and declare it done.  And yes, I know it’s January and we still have pumpkins out there.  Okey-dokey, moving right along. . .


Here’s a closeup of the quilting, and the blocks.

Into the Woods art shot

And the requisite beauty shot, draping not-so-artfully by the pumpkins.

Into the Woods back

Back of the quilt.  I had purchased this fabric about eight years ago, when I was shop-hopping up in the Pittsburg area with a good friend.  Our husbands are both scientists and we’d see each other almost annually at conferences.  This particular time I had a rental car, so we left the boys to their science and took off in search of ours.  I love that certain fabrics have memories attached; whenever I see this I will think of Beth.


I had originally named this a different name, mocked up the label but just couldn’t make the name stick.  Then one night, it came to me.  Seeing this quilt was like walking into the woods, surrounded by golds, greens, crimsons and browns, and so that became the title, just like the Broadway play Into the Woods by Steven Sondheim.  That play has always had special significance for me, as its allegory of going into the woods –the difficult trials of life — and making your way back out of the woods — into a different life than the one imagined — became a sort of map for me during a painful shape-shifting time of life.  I still love that play, and as I worked on the label (with a scrap of lyric pulled from the title song), I played it on the computer and sang along.  Nothing like a Broadway show tune to make the quilting go a little quicker.

My quilter, Cathy, did a lovely job on the quilting of pumpkins and vines (and if you know the play Into the Woods, there is a section of Jack and the Beanstock, which correlates nicely).  So there it is–my first finish, and finally, a Friday Finish for myself.

Update: Original post for the Finish-A-Long is *here.*



Finish-A-Long — First Quarter

The basic idea here is to confess to the world at large all the projects you have on your To Do list.  I think this is a great idea because I love embarrassing myself to all my blog friends about how I have what Leanne calls “start-i-tis,” or the ability to bite off more than I can chew, quilt-wise.  In this I know I’m not alone, because I am joining in Leanne’s Finish-A-Long, in order to catch myself some “finish-itis.”

Here’s some that I’m considering trying to finish up this quarter:


My Autumn Quilt.
Downton Abbey is tonight and I think I can finish up the binding–then figure out the label and add it to my 200 Quilts list.


Wonky Star pillow shams/Wonky Quilt
The quilt is at the quilter’s–should be done in a month, and I have to finish up the construction and quilting of the shams.

EPP All Seven

English Paper Piecing
I’m putting this on the FAL list, but frankly, finishing it is a fantasy.  Perhaps it’s good to trot out those Pie-in-the-Sky projects just to keep them in the front of my mind. The flowery fabric is my guest room bedspread, not part of the quilt.


Summer Treat
Can I please finish this?  Please, please, please? If I wait until June, it will be one year.  It’s pinned, sitting there, awaiting quilting.  I even have the binding picked out.

Full Nine Blocks

Lollypop Tree Quilt
This is lurking somewhere in the realm of Yessiree-I-can-finish-this, and Fantasy. I first saw this on Material Obsession’s website, then lurked on the Kim McClean blog for months before I got the nerve to start it.  My friend Rhonda said we should do it together, and I agree, but she’s forging on to new and interesting territory, while I feel honor-bound to finish this up.  (No. She hasn’t started hers yet–smarty!)  I was smart enough to shrink it down to 9 blocks from the original 16 blocks that the pattern called for.  And yes, the borders are full of little dinky, wonderful flowers, too, along with a snazillion little square blocks for the sashing.

And last. . .


Here’s another wonky project that I need to finish; I call it my Snowman Quilt and it’s two years overdue now.  If you count when I started collecting the fabric, it’s been eight years.  Pathetic, I think.  Let’s just face it.  Wonky blocks and I are NOT friends.

FinishALong Button

I still have others, but these are the worst offenders — perennial wallflowers, so so speak — hanging around when I wish they would sprout wings and fly.  Maybe with the help of the Finish-A-Long, they will.


Bolt–Portland, Oregon

After we finished lunch at Grand Central Baking Company, and had visited Cool Cottons, we headed up into the Irvington district of Portland to a well-known quilt shop called Bolt.  I have read their blog for a while, so knew about the amount of creativity that just oozed out of this place, plus it was on Alberta Street–my sweet MIL’s name. So that’s two votes for heading up here, don’t you think?


My husband has Parking Karma, so we found a place to park right across the street, then headed over. It located at 2136 NE Alberta Street in Portland (97211) and the phone is 503-287-2658, with email at  They are open every day, generally from 10-6, but different on Sat and Sunday, so check out their website for their hours.


Can I just say I’m crazy for dot-words?  In the front window of their store they had letters on large dots, spelling out the goodies inside, and I loved that interesting touch.


This store is just full of great ideas, great fabrics of all kinds and lots of ways to get you thinking about quilts and projects to make.  They carry a full range of Oliver and S Patterns, different kinds (substrates) of fabrics, from laminates to lightweight cottons, notions, threads and everything a sewist/sewer could want.


But like most quilters, I’m there for the fabric and ideas.  And they have lots of fabric to choose from.


This store is tiny but packs a lot in, so I spent some time looking.  I’m on a tight space allowance because of my suitcase, so that made it very hard to choose what I could take home.



And yes, that is the new Lizzie House Constellations line in the blues (on the left).  I also saw other lines of fabric (Madrona Road, for one), plus they have a good mix of modern, novelty and good lines for blending in a quilt layout.  You could spend all day here, I think.



Their tins of patterns–many to choose from.

And here’s a PS to our time in fabric shops: We also walked around some of Portland’s Art Galleries, where we saw a piece by Robert Rauschenberg, that only cost $70,000 (below). Makes the price of our quilt fabric look like a steal, doesn’t it?

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 9.03.16 PM

I was amazed that a simple quilt-like construction could cost that much to own, but hey, it is a Rauschenberg.  The intriguing thing was the voile overlay in the dotty and flowery sections in the picture above.  I studied it a long time, and if you are in Portland and want to go and see it, head over to the Elizabeth Leach gallery on 9th street, where they treat you with great respect even if you are carrying a drippy umbrella and are wearing walking shoes.  Which I was.

We quilters need our inspiration from many different kinds of places, and I’m grateful to both Bolt and Cool Cottons which allowed me to take snapshots of their shops.  Now go and visit, if you are in Portland.

Quilt Shops

Cool Cottons–Portland, Oregon

My husband asked me to accompany him on a business trip and the first thing I did was scout around for quilt shops, naturally, and I was advised to come to this shop in a turn of the century old house in Portland, named Cool Cottons.

Cool Cotton1

CoolCottons storefront

The address is: 2417 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland OR 97214. Phone: 503-232-0417 and their email is  Their opening hours vary, but generally they are always open from 12 noon to 6 p.m., although some days are earlier and some days are later.

Cool Cotton9

This is the sight as you step up onto the front porch, peeking into the green/pink/purple room.  I could hardly wait to open the door and come in.

Cool Cotton4

Reds! greeted us as we walked into this beautiful old house, filled with glorious cottons.  The trend is toward the modern side of things, with few calicoes or traditional prints, but that suited me just fine.  I had a good time browsing and even my husband got into the act, finding an Alexander Henry that reminded him of the fabric he picked up for me in Zimbabwe many years ago.

Cool Cotton8

The fabrics are arranged by color families, as well as by type in some cases (example, the Japanese linens are gathered together in one area).

Cool Cotton7

Interfacing, batting, threads and notions have their own place.

Cool Cotton6

Another look at that front room.  I have to say that I took a second look at greens after seeing their display.  And I wish I’d bought some of that fabric in the first bag, with carrots, potatoes and other vegetables on it.  But I was trying to be considerate of my patient husband and aware of the space constraints of my carry-on suitcase.  There’s always some fabric that gets away.

Cool Cotton5  Cool Cotton3

Black and white fabrics, next to solids.  There was lots of ample light, even on a gray rainy day, so that all the fabrics were well lit.

Cool Cotton2

The cutting table area.  I could have spent hours and buckets of money in this shop, as everything was so well arranged and beautifully laid out.  If you are ever in the area, put this one on your list for sure.

Next post: another shop in Portland.  And if you are hungry for lunch while at Cool Cottons, we enjoyed our sandwiches at the Grand Central Baking Company which is just down the street, but we really enjoyed our cookies.


Quilts · WIP

WIP for the New Year

I can’t believe I’m still working on this. No, it’s not the Christmas quilt, although that is still very much in play.  It’s the Autumn Quilt.


Since I started collecting fabrics for this oh, 8 or 9 years ago, and started cutting and sewing this quilt 2 years ago, it’s no wonder that I let it sit for a while after getting it back from the quilter as I couldn’t figure out what to bind it in.  You know we all hunger and thirst over the cute bindings that Red Pepper puts on her quilts, but sometimes it’s best not to over think this quilting thing and just move forward.  This is a plaid that was in the quilt, spliced up with a couple of other prints, as I didn’t have enough of the plaid.


I don’t know why, but I love the autumn colors.  Living in LA, I get autumn about NOW, in January, when the liquid ambers turn maple-like colors.  I went looking for quotes about autumn to find this quilt’s title, and all of them were about  the fall that they have on the Eastern seaboard, or New England or mid-western areas of the country–so romantic about leaves and color and the “twilight of the year” and death and harvest and so on.  I found a quote I like, but I’m still letting it mull over in my mind.


I mean, I can’t just call this “Autumn Quilt,” now can I?


And this is where I am on the pillow shams for my wonky star Christmas quilt.  I decided to make a normal star, as they are 16″ finished, slap on some fabric on the top and bottom to get it to equal the size of a pillow sham: 20″ by 26.”


I want a flange around the outside edge, so I cut about another 100 2-1/2″ squares, and sewed them together in strips.


So now they look like this.  I stopped because I’d taken the quilt over to the quilter, and gave her the red/green thread I’d purchased at Superior Threads when I’d gone through there at Christmastime.

I stopped because I had to get the syllabus and the course calendar and the expanded course calendar done and sent to the school copy center, and while I was at it, I sent over vats and barrels of more things to the copy center, trying to prep up for the first few weeks of school, which starts next week.  But it was oh-so-nice to not have to create those things from scratch–to be able to find them on the computer and send them over with minor alterations.

I may actually get more quilting done this semester than last, given the fact that I’m teaching a course I’ve taught before.  And that is a very good thing.


And lastly, I had a lovely surprise from a fellow quilter: she heart-attacked my door on my birthday, which was this past week.  I’ve never been heart-attacked before, so I laughed and took a picture to remind me forever.  Thank you Lisa!  I had other lovely gifts to celebrate that day from other friends and family, phone calls from my children and some friends.  A good birthday, for sure.

And then, just to remind me that I’m no spring chicken anymore, my back went into spasms the next day and I’ve been wincing, whining and moaning a good girl and not complained once about it.  Like all things, this too will pass.

Hope you are all getting your new year off to a good start with reacquainting yourself with Works in Progress.  Head back over to Lee’s at Freshly Pieced and see what others are doing.