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!