300 Quilts · Christmas Quilts · Quilt Finish

Jingle Bells • Quilt Finish

We recently took a small road trip up to see the Bristlecone Pines in the White Mountains. Pine trees = Christmas, right? And while we were up there at 10,000 feet at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center at Schulman Grove, we took some pictures with those old pines of my latest Christmas quilt, Jingle Bells.

The song “Jingle Bells” is actually a Thanksgiving song, what with the sleigh and all that, and since these circles make me think of those jingley bells — not during November — but in December, that became its name.

However, that’s not the name of the block. Jack’s Chain is the name it’s most commonly known by. The earliest mention of this block is around 1939 and it’s called Rosalia Flower Garden, but the name Jack’s Chain comes into play in 1978. For not knowing about this, all of a sudden the name Jack’s Chain was everywhere. I ordered another early quilt book and it’s in there, too. It’s in Brackman. In fact, for being such a well-recognized pattern, the origins seem to be shrouded in mystery. To see how the current version relates to the old one, take a look at this video:

After the Jack’s Chain is exploded, with the rings set beside each other, it morphs into another well-known, more contemporary version of this block (center construction shown below).

My good friend Dot sent me this photo of her Jack’s chain from 1999. She writes: “The quilt was made for a 1999 South Bay Quilters Guild challenge: to make a quilt using the guild’s logo, which is the traditional Mayflower Block. It’s not that exciting a block, so I found a fun way to set it. I drafted my own pattern from a little sketch in a quilt-block book.” [corrected 10/23/22]

The backing, and fussy-cut centers of the circles were cut from this Jane Sassaman fabric.

Yes, I really liked those old Bristlecone Pines, and liked the fact that we were walking around among these giants, both in age, wisdom, adaptability and scarcity. If you watched the Highlight reel (above), some of the wood looks fluid, as if it were poured into place. A good lesson for me, for this quilt has been a struggle.

After I put up this earlier post on Instagram, and then wrote about it on this blog, I was blasted by those who police the Other Well-known Name of this design. The origins, of course, were Jack’s Chain, but morphed. That morphing was lovely and allows the viewer to see giant circles, a secondary pattern. After I was castigated for calling it Jack’s Chain (seven pages worth!), I started doing research and found multiple places where this pattern resides. One of the places even offers acrylic templates for sale (do your own search, if you are interested). There are two basic sizes, 3″ nine-patch blocks, and 6″ nine-patch blocks. Sometimes there are diamonds in the center, and sometimes not. Sometimes the center is done with English Paper Piecing, then the nine-patches added on via machine. Sometimes the version is a table-runner (and there is a YouTube video for that one). There are as many variations of this block as there are blocks in this quilt; something for everyone — plenty to share. There is however, only one “official” pattern of that contemporary version smaller nine-patch, so if you want the complete how-to, it’s best to make sure your nickels and dimes get to her.

I originally obtained my pattern from a very fine and brilliant quilter, who no longer sells her pattern online. So when it came time to figure out how to put the sides on the center, I was stuck. So I drafted my own. The quilting on this quilt was done by Jen of Sew-Mazing Quilting.

In the Quilt Index, this is Quilt #270 and my second Christmas quilt finish for 2022 (the first). As the label notes, it’s 66″ wide and 78″ tall.

At the midpoint of this quilt, after being harangued and scolded, I wanted to wad it all up and throw it away. Our quilts often carry our hopes, dreams and emotions and I felt like this quilt had been dumped on. Maybe it was just me. Could be. I always consider my own foibles first, but in the end? I kept going. And now that I’ve taken it to 10,000 feet and let those Bristlecone Pines shed their magic on it, it’s a keeper.

Be as kind as you can, in all the ways that you can–

We also headed up Bishop Creek to get these shots, as we don’t really have many pines around here:

If you go to Bishop, I can recommend Great Basin Bakery for lunch. And breakfast! If you are down in Lone Pine, the Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery is also really good (named for the hills at the base of Mt. Whitney).

300 Quilts · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Finish

Sunflowers for a Daughter-in-Law • Quilt Finish

Sunflowers for Kim, Quilt #268, 62″ square

It takes a lot of steps to make a dance, a lot of pages to make a book and a lot of pieces to make a quilt.

Relationships are similarly intricate, especially the relationship between a mother-in-law (MIL) and her daughter-in-law. In my first marriage, I tried to develop a relationship with my new mother-in-law, but she and I were just too different to make it. When the son of this woman and I divorced, we made a deal: I’ll take the children to see my parents, and you you take the children to see yours. Within eighteen months time, we’d split the property, I’d met my Real Husband, and he and I married and moved to Southern California.

A few months later, I tasked the children with cleaning out their closets, and one of the kids handed me an unopened envelope from the former MIL. I opened it gingerly, and in it she took me to task for moving her grandchildren away from her, and for generally ruining most everything. I don’t know what happened to that letter, but now, thirty-plus years later, I recognize how right she was. I did move away, I did take the children some distance. But I also recognized her sorrow and from then on sent her school pictures, short notes, had the children write letters, trying to keep up a connection that her son was unwilling to do. I never saw her again in person, but mourned her when she died.

When my sons married, it was my turn. I have found in moving through the world, you either love your mother-in-law or she drives you crazy. There doesn’t seem to be too many in the middle. Sometimes we love our MILs because they raised our husbands, and we give them the respect owed to them for bringing us this wonderful human. Other times we wondered what in heavens’ name they were thinking to raise someone who _________ (fill in the blank). Sometimes we form a close enough bond that we move in sync, and there is no competition. However, mostly as a MIL, you bite your tongue. Eat your words, if needed. If the occasion calls for it, follow Emily Dickinson’s advice: “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”

As far as the MIL game goes, I’ve had two, one mentioned above, as well as a near-saint who was supportive and yes, raised the Best Quilt-Holding Husband in the trade (one among many of his fine talents and qualities). Between handing over my sons to their wives, as well as watching my mother and her MIL, my sisters, my friends and their MIL relationships, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes, but hope for forgiveness. and try to practice that as often as I can. Whatever your relationship is with your mother-in-law/daughter-in-law, there are a lot of pieces that have to come together to make it work.

I have made quilts for all three of my daughters-in-law (besides the wedding quilts); one carted both quilts off in their divorce; I’m waiting for the new love in my son’s life to let me know what she would like. I don’t know if they like their quilts, but I like thinking about these women: strong ones, smart ones, women who like to laugh, women who are partners to my sons. Women who raise interesting children, and sometimes include me in their lives, for in this new century of no social rules, I am the “away grandma” as my son reminds me and contact can be sporadic. Yes. It’s my turn.

This quilt is for Kim, a daughter-in-law who loves to laugh, doesn’t hold grudges, is a great mother, a fine partner and wife for my son, and doesn’t let him get away with too many shenanigans, while escaping when she can for hers. She always has a game ready for us to play, welcomes us to her home, and is easy to talk to. She loves sunflowers, those being the flowers she carried at her wedding, some twenty years ago. Happy Anniversary, Kim, for making me your mother-in-law, then redeeming me from that awful fate.

And many thanks to my Quilt-Holding Husband, who found us this wonderful mural backdrop, and to Jen, for her fine quilting using an E2E of Baptist Heart Clams.

This updated pattern is found in my PayHip Pattern Shop. If you have already purchased this PatternLite Pattern, thank you. The newest version can be downloaded using the email you received when you bought it.

(PatternLite Patterns: costs less than a pumpkin-spice drink at the local coffee shop.)
300 Quilts · Quilt Finish

Blossoming • Quilt Finish

Blossoming, Quilt #267

I got this back from the quilter, cut the binding, and in the last gloriously awful days of our heat wave, I sewed on the binding while listening to Hamnet, a novel I highly recommend. Finally(!) we get a view of Shakespeare’s wife from a woman, and I was fascinated with the things I learned about running a household in the 1600s.

Jen’s quilting, using the E2E pattern Funky Fans really complimented the repetitive nature of this quilt. I think of this as a calming quilt. I have another blue quilt, also quilted in a repeated curving design, also calming. Here they are talking together:

The photographs were taken right after the outer edges of Hurricane Kay graced our area with a full day-and-night of steady drizzle, breaking the heat wave, bringing wanted moisture to our parched area. Now all we’ll need is an earthquake and we’ll have covered all the bases. Oh, wait. We did have a 3.6 earthquake, with an epicenter about five miles from our house, so we’re good on the disaster front.

And in a measure of how time (maybe) heals all wounds, I thought of 9-11 in passing, and only when I scheduled this post. Yes, I have been immersed in disasters: reading a book set in the 1600s with people dying of the plague; Pale Rider, a book about the 1918 flu; watching all the events associated with the death of Queen Elizabeth. I guess those were prominent in my mind. But today, let us remember.

Ground Zero Memorial at dusk

Other posts that mention this quilt:

Elizabeth Is Away

Blooming Scrap Quilt & Progress

Ruangrupa: Parallels to Quiltland

Beginning: June 17, 2022
300 Quilts · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

Secret Garden • Quilt Finish

What is it about Kaffe Fassett fabrics that pulls us in? The rich hues and full range of shades? The interesting patterns, many from old wallpapers and fabrics? I have a couple of stacks of his fabrics and it’s always a delight when I can pull them out from my shelves and start playing.

Secret Garden, quilt number 235, is the original size of my Triad Harmony pattern, measuring 28 1/2″ by 31 1/2″ and was made for a class sample, since my friend Susan loved Kaffe fabrics. She was the program chair and had me teach this class for their Guild.

After several weeks of lallygagging around — or so it felt — this week I put on the binding and the label:

The quilting goes fast with this size! (Click any image to enlarge.)

It also helped to get back into a Guido Brunetti Mystery, after a long time away.

Here’s another scrappy version.

And a bigger version, Eris.

And the first in the series in Jennifer Sampou’s ombré fabrics. I put them all together in a reel on Instagram. (See my tip in my next post for how I deal with that app.)

Triad Harmony and her sisters. One more is coming…

300 Quilts · Giveaway · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt-A-Long

Heart’s Garden • Quilt Finish

This weighty world needs a tender, light touch this week, so I thought I’d finish up my Heart’s Garden with you today.

Heart’s Garden in my garden, with the flowers of the silk oak in bloom above it.

I thought this quilt might be a fun place to try some embellishments, including these wooden buttons I purchased at a quilt show from a booth with Japanese fabrics, patterns and notions.

The birds now have eyes.

I quilted around a heart shape, trying this out.

Sew Sassy thread is a quilting thread developed by Jane Sassaman with Superior Threads. Since it is polyester, it doesn’t fray out as badly as floss when I’m stitching with it, and leaves a line like 3 strands of embroidery floss.

This is me, ordering colors online (and on sale) so I can do some more stitching. I’ve picked up spools here and there over the last few years. Obviously I have a couple extra: one in pink and one in spring green. Leave a comment below and I will pick two winners from the comments and send them out.

One of my constant helpers at the computer. The other one is Totoro.

I was able to cross off a couple of more things this week. No way I’m going to get this all done by the end of June, but it’s okay. Time for good vibes to go out into our fragile world.

Recently on the PBS NewsHour, they had a discussion how many people are going online to try and back up Ukranian digital assets before they might be destroyed. In the middle of this serious business, I noticed that behind the librarian from Stanford was a Bernina sewing machine and a serger. Even in the hardships around us, we can find common ground.

I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know that Affinity by Serif is having a 50% off sale. I had my husband download Photo for his computer today (steal at about $27) and then had my daughter download both Designer and Photo for her computer. It even got a mention this week in the Craft Industry Alliance newsletter this week, as another way to get your digital artwork made.

So, this is the last of Heart’s Garden. I will post photos from our other makers in a future post, as I so appreciate all the beautiful quilts they are making, and believe they are worth letting you know about. I’ll have some time in the next little while to do more hand-stitching on this quilt, so I decided not to rush for a blog deadline. It will evolve and change, but I don’t feel like I have to do too much. . . just enough fun stitches to make me happy.

The pattern is up on my PayHip shop. I will leave Part 5 (heart border) up in my shop for another week or so, but the other patterns have been merged into the full pattern (I hope you were all able to grab them when they came out). Since there are tons of photos and illustrations, and PayHip has a download limit, I broke the pattern into two parts. Be sure to download both segments.

Affinity Photo helped me try this out in a different color.

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY FINISHED. Leave a comment if you want to win a spool of Sew Sassy Thread (US domestic only). I’ll pick two winners this week.
Then take a breath, and quilt!

Other Posts About this Quilt • Quilt #264

All of the individual posts are linked on the Heart’s Garden Info Page
Did I mention who quilted this? It was Krista of KristaStitched. She is delightful!