Santa So Far

Santa So Far

I received two more blocks from my bee-mates today, and it was a good conclusion to a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day in class.

One boy cried, but not because of anything I said or did (horrors! how could he let English interfere with what he was thinking about as he sat in my classroom?)  Thirteen of the seventeen students that managed to come to class were unprepared, madly trying to finish up their assignment as they smiled and looked at me.  Four students were perfect.  I love them.  Three had emailed me that they couldn’t come to class with the following reasons: “I have a migraine and don’t feel so well,” “My mom’s stew didn’t sit so well and I don’t want to be running out of class all the time,” and “I have to be somewhere at 3.” (Our class begins at 3:00.)

After trying for nearly an hour to get the class off the ground, I made everyone sit down from where they were crowding around my desk, seeking help, and said, “You aren’t prepared.  Is it my fault?  Shall we postpone the next essay?”  And then I had what one of our teachers calls a “Come to Jesus” moment, when we re-acquaint them with the Truth, which is that not only does the teacher need to be prepared for class, but the students do too.  “And today, you are not prepared,” I said, calling for a break to clear the air, dismiss  the crying young man (family problems), and figure out where to go next.

So it was lovely to to come home to the two newest blocks, and I arranged them up on the wall, along with the one I’d made to replace Linda’s.  She gets a Full Pass on making quilt blocks because three weeks ago her home burned to the ground.  They escaped with their cat and their hard drive and not much else.  I’ll think of her every time I look at 54-40, or Fight.  Makes a bad day at class look pretty trivial, doesn’t it?

Bad Block 54-40 Fight

Maybe my bad day really began last night as I worked on the block?  Don’t worry.  I “un-stitched” it, flipped around the row, and put it back together properly.

I can only write about this now because a good colleague interrupted her grading to listen to me whine all the way home.

Of course, she took my side.  (Thanks, Judy.)  And doesn’t Santa look great, surrounded by lovely quilt blocks made by lovely friends?


Four more days until we reveal our Four-in-Art Quilts.  Come back and see the art on November 1st.

Quilt Shops

Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, CA

Back Porch Fabrics

My friend Beth and I headed over to Pacific Grove to explore Back Porch Fabrics, located in Pacific Grove, California, just up the road from Carmel and next door to Monterey, California.

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Back Porch Fabrics1a

Back Porch Fabrics6

It has nice high ceilings, an abundance of quilt samples, and lots and lots of interesting fabric.

Back Porch Fabrics2

The sale table, easy to find because of its umbrella, and since they are located near the coast (you can see the ocean from their front door), a beach umbrella makes perfect sense.

Back Porch Fabrics3

Some shops like to carry lines of fabrics, but I found Back Porch Fabrics unique because they carry a LOT of different lines, but not all the pieces or colorway in each line.  I found this to be invigorating, as I saw many interesting and new bolts of fabric.

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Back Porch Fabrics5

They’ve grouped their black and whites together.
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Back Porch Fabrics8

These are not all blenders, but instead different novelties, patterns, and designs, grouped by color family.

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Dots and little sewing machines!

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They carry a wide range of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

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In talking the person who was cutting our fabric, she said that since they are the closest fabric shop to Asilomar (which runs quilting seminars), they need to be able to provide a wide range of fabrics.  They also had a section of traveling fabrics for the tourists who stop in.

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Back Porch Fabrics13

A view into the classroom, by the side of their wide selection of books.

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I’d love to take a class here, with all the interesting quilts on the walls.  Apparently these quilts switch out, as they can be an exhibit from one quilter.

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Fat quarters.

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The cutting table is in the center of the main room, a beautiful solid wood table.  Wood is everywhere, which makes me feel like these shop is here to stay.  In talking with another customer, she confirmed my suspicion that this began as Back Porch Press Patterns (I have a couple of those), and the shop has been here for 17 years.

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Back Porch Fabrics21

If you are ever in the Carmel/Monterey area, leave time for a stop here.  Pacific Grove also has a lot of cute shops to browse and if you are there at lunchtime, head to Red House Cafe, which is a couple of blocks from the shop.  Amazing food, and quick, so you can head out to the coast.  (Don’t forget to pick up their Red House Signature cookies: Oatmeal, Apricot and Pecan cookies.)

200 Quilts · FAL · Finish-A-Long · Quilts · Schnibbles

Pacific Grove Blues

Pacific Grove Blues_front

Oh, yes, you’ve seen this before, but only (as the Australians say) as a flimsy, a quilt top.  So I needed to get a few projects done and finished and this was next on the list.  I was originally going to name it Sand and Sea, but changed my mind to keep it fresh.

Pacific Grove Blues_block

This is the block, made in fours and arranged into the quilt.  The original post has more information about the pattern, if you’re interested.

Pacific Grove Blues_back

I call it Pacific Grove Blues, because of the time we spent in Northern California last month walking along the coastal path in that very interesting town.   I don’t have the label for this quilt finished yet, but will, soon.  Of course, I visited the fabric store that was there, Back Porch Fabrics; look for the review of that in an upcoming post.

Carmel Blues

It also hearkens back to an earlier quilt, titled The Blues of Carmel, made from a fat quarter purchased there, and homage to my mother’s blue blue eyes.

We watched these waves every morning, trying to get to the walking just before sunrise.  A peak experience, as my Dad would say.

Pacific Grove Blues

It can now join my growing stack of Schnibbles on top of the guest room armoire.  My husband keeps asking me what I’m going to do with all of these little quilts.  I really have no idea.  Table toppers for holidays (especially the last one, that’s all patriotic)?  Doll quilts for the granddaughters? (But I’ve already made them all doll quilts.)

What would you do with a bunch of little quilts? Any ideas, besides stack them up and enjoy them?  We’ve all heard quoted a million times that factoid from the book by Malcolm Gladwell about how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get really good at anything.  I figure by cranking these out, I’m keeping those 10,000 hours of practice alive and going.  I don’t really know how much longer I will continue to do these Schnibbles, but I have to say that Carrie Nielson of Miss Rosie’s pattern company always has solid designs and colorations, and I can always keep learning something new about how to piece something, or put a combo together, or be exposed to a new block and its possibilities.  I like keeping my options open.


FinishALong Button

This is one completed project from Finish-A-Long, hosted by Leanne of She Can Quilt, Quarter 4 of 2014’s goals.

This is quilt number 123, on my 200 quilts list.


WIP: Bits and Pieces

America is a Tune_label

I’m finishing up bits and pieces, collecting bits and pieces, and am covered with bits and pieces of thread (On Mondays and Wednesdays — my teaching days — I’m always worried I’ll stand up in the front of the class with snips of thread sticking to me).  Above is the label, all sewn on, for my recent Schnibbles quilt: America Is A Tune (it must be sung together).  Finished that up tonight.

Carmel Blues Redux in process

This is the Schnibbles from last month all pinned up ready for quilting.

Santa and His Blocks_1

The blocks from the Mid-Century Modern Bee are starting to come in, and as they arrive, I iron them and smooth them up on the pinwall next to Santa.  It’s so fun to see them come in, with their nifty signature blocks (we decided to do a signature block and I’m really happy we did!).

Some Other WIPs:
Lollypop Tree–it calls to me from the guest room closet where it is on a hanger, like a siren song.  I ignore it, for the most part.

Friendship Quilt Blocks–I just need to sew them together.  What is taking me so long?  Our novel for class, Moon Over Manifest, has a signature quilt in the story line, so I took in a few blocks to show the students.  As I looked at the signatures of the women, I thought of each of these ladies.  This will be a gem.  At some point.

Santa (above).  I could start working on the houses and trees, I guess, now that I’ve finished up my Four-in-Art quilt for the November reveal.  (Suppressed squeal of joy)  Come back in a few days and see the gallery.  We have eight total now, so it should be a fun blogging/Flickr day.

Friendship Swap Blocks with Krista–we finally worked out our schedule and are ready to go.

I also have fabric for a Halloween quilt — oops!  Next year.

Not a WIP: finished my novel Light Between Oceans–loved it.  Can recommend it highly.

WIP new buttonLinking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced,
if she decides to run it, as I know she’s been very busy with getting things ready for market.


America Is A Tune: October Schnibbles Quilt

America is a Tune_quilt front

America Is A Tune (it must be sung together)
finished October 2013
Quilt #122 on my 200 Quilts List

I was making this quilt all during the recent embarrassing shut-down of our country.  It was embarrassing because I’d been thinking about the ideals that began our nation, and I felt that no matter what your political persuasion, the sacrifices of those early leaders would pale in comparison to the sacrifices being made by those now congregating in the halls of Congress.  And perhaps because they made those sacrifices, maybe those early leaders recognized the fragility of the nation, and worked hard to get it going and keep it going.  The title of this quilt is from Gerald Stanley Lee, a clergyman writing at the time of World War I, and I think it kind of expresses what I would hope we, as a county, could embrace again: working together.

Okay, enough on that, but I am really happy the shut-down is over.

Clover Schnibbles

Sherri and Sinta chose Miss Rosie’s new pattern, Clover, for our Schnibbles this month.  I couldn’t face making all those teensy blocks, so this was my plan:

AmericaIsATune Quilt schematic

So I cut the center “flower” blocks 3” square (finish at 2.5″).  Then cut a bunch of 1 3/4″ squares and sewed them into a four-patch, which would finish at 3″ square, too.  I randomly picked these measurements, and so also include how I constructed the side setting triangles and the corner triangles.

America is a Tune_quilt front detail

And although it happened again: this pattern included no cutting instructions for those of us who don’t buy gobs of Moda pre-cuts, this brilliant design is all Carrie Nielson, from Miss Rosie’s Quilt Company, so get the pattern before you start.

America is a Tune_back1

What prompted this was a visit from my son, who is a political animal–eats, drinks and sleeps politics.  Somewhere in a chest of drawers out in the garage was a little T-shirt I’d bought for a grandchild at the Senate Office Building when we had our sabbatical in Washington DC.  And when looking for that to give to him (so his daughter could wear it), I found this tea towel, with some of Washington DC’s landmarks.

America is a Tune_back

My favorite one, the World War II Memorial isn’t on here, nor is the World War I memorial, which is hidden off to the side of the Lincoln Reflecting Pool (on the left, as you face Mr. Lincoln).

America is a Tune_back2

The backing fabric is an ancient fabric from Susan Winget.  I’d been saving it for a patriotic quilt, and it now has found its home.  I quilted it in a cross-hatch design, while listening to The Light Between Oceans, by M.I. Stedman.  I have three hours to go and I’d better get going on quilting last month’s Schnibbles, so I can finish the book and talk to my mother about it.


Four-in-Art · Quilts · Something to Think About

Map Musings

4-in-art_3Since the quarterly reveal date for our Four-In-Art is coming up in a couple of days, I thought it was high time to sit down and think about this new overall theme of Urban, and the specific quarterly theme of Maps.

Front Page TM

While we love the old maps, shown above on the front page of our family’s  travel blog, we all depend on recently updated maps to find our way around.  I read somewhere (and of course I can’t find it now,) that at some point in history, maps were kept only for those who had money or a position, guaranteeing them power over the masses who toiled in medieval fields.  For to hold a map, and to read it, is to understand your place in the world and how you relate to it.

SM Aerial Map Quilt

(Alicia Merritt, Green and Pleasant Land)

In a section of  Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, he writes about how maps develop:

“We progress from the infant’s egocentric, purely sensory perception of the world to the young adult’s more abstract and objective analysis of experience.”  Children’s drawings of maps advance as 1) simple topographical relationships are presented, without regard for perspective or distances, then 2) intellectural realism evolves connecting what is known with the proportional relationships, then 3) a visual realism appears.

Carr recounts that first maps were rudimentary, then realistic, then scientific in both precision and abstraction.  In addition, maps expressed ideas: ” ‘The intellectural process of transforming experience in space to abstraction of space is a revolution in modes of thinking,’ writes Vincent Virga, an expert on cartography affiliated with the Library of Congress.”

TV Map of USA

While no one under the age of 40 will remember this, once it was common when someone was coming to your house, for them to call you with the question, “How do I get to your house?”  Then we’d detail for them the streets to turn on and the landmarks to notice so they could arrive at our home.  Then came MapQuest, then Google Maps, then maps on our phones where can follow the little blue dots, then the aggravation with Apple’s Maps, proving again that he who holds an accurate map has real power.

Nighttime Map over USA

While this is a blurry shot of a city from an airplane, the first maps were of the heavens–of stars and planets and their movement.

LG Aerial Map Quilt

(Alicia Merrett, Canal Country)

Only later did it invert, so that maps became aerial views of the earth and its landmarks.

Creative Class Workers by Census Map(from the Santa Monica Patch: type in your USA city and see what you see)

Thiebaud Levee FarmWayne Theibaud, Levee Farms

Land Patterns from the air

Don’t we all have multiples of this photo on our cameras?  Aren’t we all amazed by the patterns on our earth, invisible to us as we drive/move/walk around at ground level?

Capturing a View National Portrait Gallery

(view towards the Archives, taken from the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.)

Maps can also be a window on our lives.

ESE Life Map 1a

I once had a class do Life Maps, where they depicted an aspect of their life, wrote a paper about it, and presented the map to the class.  This was my sample map of my education.  In writing in my art journal last night about maps, I began to realize that maps could also freeze time, evoke a memory.  Unlike my other Four-in-Arters, who seem to be charging ahead, I’ve been at a loss about what to make, how to proceed.  But after sitting down and writing about it, gathering pictures of maps and ideas, I am now creating my own map of where to go with this project.


We are welcoming four new members this year, so the logo, which originally meant four artists, now has — at the suggestion of one of our group — changed to mean the four quarterly challenges we make. We reveal a new over-arching theme in August, then in November, February, April and August we make quilts around that theme, with smaller “subset themes” to guide us.  We hope you’ll come back on November 1st to take a quilt art tour, as the eight of us interpret our current theme of Urban/Maps.