stars shining brightly

stars shining brightly
quilt #237 • 35″ square

This is the second sawtooth star quilt top I made during the Time of Covid, but that first one is still awaiting quilting. One night, dragging around, looking for something to do besides all the things I’d done every single day for the last few months, I thought I would just knock this one out, get it done.

It had held me up for a while, as I kept thinking that it had to have precision ruler work in all those fine-pointed stars that were made when I was testing out my Sawtoothmania pattern, but in the end I decided that Done Was Best.

I’m about ready to sew the labels on the back, but I’ll pin them on then wait for a Zoom call to finish this up.

We snucked sneaked zipped up to Utah for a very quick trip last weekend to go to my niece’s wedding, dithering about it so badly that it wasn’t until the night before that we actually made our final decision. You know…covid. But the evening was idllyic, the food delicous, the bride and her father (my brother) both giddy and slightly delirious with happiness, so I’m glad I got to see that. She had three pages of vows, he had two pages, and all of us old marrieds are thinking: seriously? But in the blush of youth, why not pledge your troth in a really big way? Life will do what it does, and I’m thrilled they both climbed in the same buggy for the ride.

While going through photos the other day, I found this screenshot. It’s the headline that makes it delicious. Or awful, depending on how your day is going. Yep, it’s not like we wear those kinds of clothes in the photo anymore, right?

So I fell down the Riley Blake Gem Stones ombré fabrics rabbit hole. Here are some brights from The Cotton Cure, complete with a fun piece of candy and a sticker (which I put on the front of my calendar that I still am having a hard time filling out…who needs calendars these days?) I wish I could unfurl the fabrics for you to see the wonderful gradation of color and hue.

Here is another batch of half-yards from Quilt Expressions, who included this little note pad. These two shops know the way to any woman’s heart is a little gift. I found both these shops by doing a search on ETSY for this fabric, which led me to them.

All of them together.

Plans? Another Triad Harmony quilt, as I have my first live-online class with this pattern in a couple of weeks, when I Zoom into the Coastal Quilters for an evening and a fun Saturday. I’m starting work on the password-protected page on this website, shooting videos, freaking out when I try to edit them. You know, the whole digital experience of teaching these days.

Lastly, we are saying good-bye to too many people these days. The flags at half-mast are for Judge Ginsberg, and the 20,000 flags in front are to honor the over 200,000 dead due to Covid-19, since March. I wrote about the first 100,000 dead some months ago, and I struggled at this milestone. Are we not talking about it because we are numb? Are we not making a big deal of because it’s an election year and all the rahrah is distracting us? Or, more soberly, are we not noting it with fervor because we expect that soon there will be a 300,000 milestone, maybe even a 400,000 and we want to save something for that event?

This last idea scares me to death, for that means that many more people we love will be gone, from grandparents to aunts to friends and neighbors, almost sliding out of our lives without much notice. All that history. Gone. All those relationships. Gone. All those memories that will have to stand in place of these who died of this disease; gone too soon, they now grace the heavens, stars shining brightly.

I wish for all who remain behind, solace in their sorrow, and hopefully a quilt somewhere to curl up in on a bad day. Take care everyone. Wear your masks. Be kind.

We are not out of this yet.

My grandmother (left), my great-grandmother (right) and my Aunt Alfarette as a child, all wearing masks during the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Triad Harmony • Quilt Finish

Triad Harmony, quilt number 234
33″ wide by 29″ high

Annularity now has a little sister, and her name is Triad Harmony.

Triads that harmonize are found in color wheels and in music. The Oxford Dictionary of Music notes that “Zarlino was the first theorist to accept the triad as a full-fledged consonance. Not only did he accept it, he dubbed it the harmonia perfetta—the ‘perfect harmony.’ He rationalized giving the triad this suggestive name not only on the basis of the sensory pleasure that triadic harmony evoked” but also because of reason and mathematical theory.

But that’s not why I named it that. I don’t really know why I named it this, other than my triad block is the basis of the design. Sometimes names just drift in out of the heavens, and there they are.

I was asked to speak to the Coastal Quilters Guild about a year ago, and my friend Susan wanted to make Annularity. When we all were switching to Zoom, I thought I should try to create a smaller version of that quilt, as small quilts are more easily created in a workshop setting. And I promised her I’d try it in Kaffe fabrics, her first love. So here it is, but it’s so hot off the press, that I haven’t had a chance to quilt this version. (Coming soon, and with a different name, I promise.)

The pattern is finished and can be purchased on PayHip, my pattern site.

I also drew up a bit larger version and I loved seeing some of the drafting details, so I took a screen shot. It is also when I found a significant error in my first quilt, but I doubt you’ll find it so I’m not going to tell you where it is. Humbling moments come at me from every direction.

It’s been an intense two weeks filled with smoke from fires in my lovely California, watching most of the Democratic convention and parts of the Republican convention, worrying about people I love, dealing with asthma and a reaction to a Shingles vaccination, writing up this pattern, quilting the first quilt, cutting and sewing the Kaffe version, moving my in-person Guild Visits to Zoom visits, trying not to be cranky when we had ten days of 100+ temperatures, along with the usual.

I didn’t have to deal with sending children back to school in masks, a stressful essential job where I had to risk the covid-19 virus, money troubles (thinking about my early days when I didn’t have two quarters to rub together in my pocket), locating a good fabric shop, teenagers, car or computer troubles.

I have some observations about the conventions, a thought or two about some of the other things, but today I am tired, so I’ll close it out here.

Take care, everyone. Keep quilting. Keep bringing the beautiful into your lives, one stitch at a time.

Criss-Cross Color

Criss-Cross Color • Quilt [Top] No. 233
49″ wide by 68″ high

It has been a good month, a month of Criss-Crossing with the Criss-Cross Quilt pattern.

Criss-Cross Autumn • Quilt No. 232
35″ square

After getting over my terror of Zooming, and finding I really quite liked it a LOT, I jumped in with both feet to prepare for the class that the Glendale Quilt Guild had chosen. To teach, I had to make some new samples — not to be sent around this time, but for short videos for their class.

So, these two quilts came from those endeavors.

Okay, I take it back. Maybe Criss-Cross Color started here, when a series of photos showed up on my Instagram. I pulled colors of Painters Palette Solids to mimic what I saw. (Yes, I’ve had this series of photos for over a year. Sometimes quilts take a while to percolate up to the top.)

This is what was on my design wall when I started my Workshop with the quilters from Glendale last Saturday:

This group is on fire! They were engaged, enthusiastic and even the most beginner of the bunch dived in and got to work on their quilts. This morning we had a follow-up session, where they showed off what they’d sewn and talked about their quilts.

Follow-up Workshop

I like to do a follow-up Zoom one week later, as it’s close enough to the time of the Workshop that the event doesn’t drag on and on, yet gives a few days to cut and sew. And these ladies did just that. Here are the quilts from the slide show I put together for them (they all gave me permission to share them). From the top, the owner/makers are: Cindy, Joyce, Flo, Annie, Nancy, Caren, Beth, Kathy, Rebecca, and Mary.

Some of these are under construction, some are completed tops, and one is all quilted, finished and bound! It was a most lovely follow-up session, and they had great insights about the quilt, working with pattern, finding ways to make this idea their own. I’ve been floating all day.

Thank you to the fine quilters of Glendale Quilt Guild for a wonderful time!

This and That • August 2020

I’m teaching another live-online class today, and placed the Criss-Cross Christmas on the design wall, then layered on the Criss-Cross Autumn, and when I started making colorful blocks for another version, up they went too! I like the look of them all together, but they really will be three separate quilts.

Here’s the final version of Criss-Cross Autumn, a bit more vibrant than what’s in the mash-up image. For the binding, I kept it simple: I sewed together the leftover strips, and used a simple single-fold binding approach.

I drew out some design ideas on a picture of my quilt with the photo lightened up, so I could sort of see what might work. There’s a lot going on in this quilt, and I didn’t want the quilt to overpower it.

I loved the idea from Linda of Flourishing Palms, where she mentioned she was including “Made during the Covid-19 Pandemic” onto her labels (or similar wording). So I added it to this one, too.

Speaking of labels, I finally finished the label for this one (my version of My Small World from Jen Kingwell), and got it sewn on. Obviously you can see that it took a hit during covid time–didn’t the earth sort of stop still in March? I finished this by the end of January, went to QuiltCon in February, came home and started buying truckloads of groceries, preparing for the pandemic, and just now got the label sewn on.

I’ve also been listening to this while sewing: I have Bette to blame as she recommended it, and I can hardly wait to keep listening.

I just finished The Authenticity Project, and can recommend it if you need a med-light read with interesting characters. It’s also set in London, which means we Americans get to hear a British accent while listening.

I happened on to this talk, presented by the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and really enjoyed seeing Ms. Montgomery’s swing coats. There are other Textile Talks to listen to, if you are interested.

I finished up my Gridster Bee block, a free download, and Linda asked us to use cool colors and low volumes, and leave the four quarters unsewn. This was fun to do!

Moving right along with This and That, we first did the front of this puzzle (the Falling Water house by Frank Lloyd Wright), then tackled doing the reverse. We did okay on the center part, then floundered with all the blues. So I started flipping them over, grouping them by colors, and then flipping them back. We just have to DO the puzzle, right? There are no rules as to how you get it done, right?

New project, using Jennifer Sampou’s SKY fabrics. Luscious. Coming soon.

The above two images go together: the brown smoky skyline, which is not a beautiful sunset, but a layer of smoke drift from California fires, coupled with the line-up of temperatures coming our way. I’m not leaving the house on Tuesday.

The the following three images are linked: a countdown clock for the U.S. Elections, a visually interesting and textural image of Kamala Harris, and a Trump cartoon from 2018, which popped up in my Instagram feed today, strangely prescient for this year’s election.

from here
from 2018, from here

Brendan Loper, the artist, writes “Strangely enough this toon was featured in Russia Today comparing it to a soviet political cartoon about western voting practices.”

Lastly, this is where I’ll be today. I laughed when I saw this. This might be partly true for my Zoom-trunk shows; I usually put up a quilt behind me, blocking the view. When I Zoom-teach in my sewing room, however, everything has to be spic and span, because so much can be seen.

A big thank you to all who wrote such lovely descriptions of their gardens, their terrain and what they see around them on my last post. My husband and I took turns pointing out our favorites (which turned out to be ALL of them), and it was like a lovely armchair travel through all your backyards. Sigh. If only I could come and visit you all…I would!

Right now, my tomatoes are hanging on for dear life, and with the 111 temps coming this next week, I’ll have pre-cooked tomatoes to harvest (yes, we even tried putting cupcake wrappers to protect them–this last week we moved their pots into partial shade). Everything’s getting browner: the sky, the hills, the garden, and every day I see air quality advisories warning me that it’s probably not good to go outside and try to inhale the muddy-colored atmosphere. Our summer is like an East Coast winter: we stay inside, keep the A/C at a comfortable-but-not-too-cool level, and sew our brains out.

picture from the 1918 pandemic

I’ll be working on the project with the SKY fabric, prepping up another live-online class, and waiting for the “bers” in the calendar to arrive: September, October, November and December. I actually thought about Christmas today. This year has been so totally and completely crazy, I wondered if I would jinx the season of Let’s Be Jolly by even thinking about it.

So, let’s just keep going, putting right sides together and stitching memories into our quilts.

Made to Withstand the Proof of Time

from here; more about this in a minute

As quilters, we have an relationship to time. We begin something, knowing it won’t be done for days, or months or even years. We work towards a daily or weekly goal of finishing the quilt, even though we might sometimes abandon the effort. But there is always this gap from beginning to end.

I started this quilt in December 2015, the design inspiration taken from an antique red and white quilt I’d seen in a quilt show. I couldn’t figure out how that quilting sister from 150 years ago put her quilt together, so I modernized it, and then in January 2016 sent the instructions to a bee I was in, asking them to make some blocks. Then I made more blocks, thinking about how that woman so long ago might envy our ability to have such an array of fabrics, to sew like the wind on our modern machines, to have such a distant circle of friends still gather together in a quilting bee.

I wrote about the finished quilt top, and then it sat. Time passed.

I wrote a pattern, but when QuiltMania accepted the quilt for publication, I took it down from my PayHip shop.

Time passed. And then some more time.

This week I received this picture in an email, along with the picture of the cover:

From December 2015 to August 2020 is nearly five years. In that time I’ve counted off changes in our family, health issues, deaths in our family, births and birthdays, personal highs, and personal challenges, a pandemic and now extremely grateful to have a quilt published in a respected quilt magazine. And to quote a common phrase seen in our quilty culture: I have #allthefeels.

Which brings me back to that photo at the top of this page. Several designers and architects were asked to “reflect on a changing world, their creative process, and the future of design.” I enjoyed reading their thoughts, as they echoed some of my own feelings about the creative life. Here’s two:

Pierre Yovanovitch (Provence, France) said: “I try to look at the silver lining and see this as an opportunity for a creative reset, taking a pause from our overly scheduled lives to tap back into what inspires us.”

Milanese designers Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli, who designed the room of plates at the top of the post:

“Regarding the future effects of this pandemic, on one hand it has been recognized the importance of the house as a center, a place of the soul in people’s life. On the other hand, the inevitable economic impact that will follow this situation will, we hope, generate among people the idea that the house isn’t just an object that follows the trends to be discarded and replaced for the next upcoming thing. You should aim for an object of beauty, made to withstand the proof of time.”

I guess that’s why we quilters are willing to start a quilt in December and nearly five years later, see it completed. That’s why we pick out fabrics and squirrel them away, knowing that sometime in the future — maybe even in a pandemic — we will pull out the projects we’ve collected and start the long process in the midst of the distraction, the sorrow, the uncertainty.

And as always, we will send our quilt out into the world as a veritable declaration of hope, our handiwork created to withstand the proof of time.

Happy quilting. Yes, especially now.

Repeat/Augment

Repeat/Augment
Quilt #230
47 1/2″ square

For some reason this morning, the fog cleared, the brain snapped to, I thought: “You have got to finish something today!” And so I did.

A low-energy-COVIDistraction-day back in May got me started on the quilting, although the quilt top itself was begun back in August 2019, in another galaxy far away from our lives now.

Shots from my backyard, in nearly 100 degree heat. We are both wilting, the quilt and I.

Why is it called Repeat/Augment? Because you’ve seen this City Streets pattern once before, in this quilt.

I decided it was Very Serious, all that gridwork in the quilting.

So I went natural this time, in as many places as I could. And used Tula Pink fabric in really saturated tones with curvy-swervy designs. Yes, definitely more playful.

The label is coming, but here’s the mock-up.
Without the pink things sticking out everywhere.
(I was having fun with my Affinity Designer software.)

Our lives, now, unless you live in one of those places that is like the wild, wild west and has released you from Stay-At-Home. In our neck of the woods, it’s not yet, so it kind of freaks me out if I go outside and see people not wearing masks.

Hey, around here, even the quarters have them on!

Which reminds me, I need to cut out some more masks. My friend’s granddaughters are making holiday-themed masks (not shown here, but there are some fun types) and after the most recent news from Those Who Know, looks like the granddaughters were on to something. If you are keeping track, here’s my most recent favorite map, from Johns Hopkins. (I put it here so I can find it again.)

Last happy news is that my hair stylist has re-opened for the first time since March, so on Saturday I will get a real haircut. Not the kind where you set the mirror up on the barbeque, and try to cut your hair yourself. I am a little afraid of what he’s going to say when he sees the hatchet job that is living on top of my head. All I’ve got to say, it’s a good thing I’ve been in Stay-at-Home mode.

Happy Quilting!