What’s that word that describes that feeling of when you finally get it, that gradual understanding, the skill opening up before you and the lights going on? We often use the word “blossom” to describe this but in a more long-term sense of the word, of working hard at something and all of sudden (or so it seems) it’s gone from a tight little bud of mysterious possibilities to a bloom in gorgeous bouquet.
The Olympics are like that. These athletes spend hours out of sight, working hard until all of a sudden they blossom out on the world stage, touching the wall after a 1500 meter swim, or sticking a landing.
We blossom into our quilting, beginning with learning how to make a proper cut, then a proper seam, and then all of sudden we are flowering into patches and designs and colors and quilts.
But here’s also to you: a quilter, whose creations grace our world with as much beauty as a whole garden of blossoms.
While I started this from my Flowering Snowball Pattern Lite series, the intention was a new sample for the class I’m teaching in September for the Santa Clarita Quilt Guild. And in a couple of weeks, this Pattern Lite — whose concept is just a few pieces and general guidelines — will grow into a full-fledged pattern which is better for teaching, with more instructions and yardage guidelines.
In other words…it blossomed!
Thank you to all who entered the giveaway for the Painter’s Palette swatch pack. I actually found more than one set, so there are winners (plural)! Emails will be going out tomorrow to alert the winners.
And if you were a winner of the book giveaway, I mailed them all off this morning. Look for them in about a week (depending on where you live).
Thank you, mostly, to you! (all my readers). I appreciate the conversations, the stories you share, the coaching you give and the gold medal hearts you all have.
Naturally, patterns emerge through repetition, and repetition yields up a type of discovery that reveals everything about itself, especially its sorry limits. (Jan Peacock)
I love this variation of my Azulejos pattern. I love the blues, aquas, the glints of yellow. I like where I made a mistake and put the wrong color in the triangle (you’ll never see it, but I like it).
But, I think I hit up upon my sorry limits, as Peacock says, in quilting this. It is the Month of the Broken Ankle, and something always seems to break in my mind when the body is goofy, and perhaps that’s why I just dove into quilting this without doing my usual due diligence of printing out the quilt, drawing all over it, like this (from another quilt):
A plan! Instead, I just went for it, wanting to get it ticked off the list and out of the To Be Quilted Pile, and yes Haste Makes Waste and all that, but I do still like SeaDepths. I just think that this time it hit its sorry limits with the quilter, that’s all.
In other news, Summer Snowcone has been pin-basted, and aren’t you impressed with that matching seam on the backing?
I purchased this fabric just because I am totally over the moon about it, but then…you know I love Sawtooth Blocks.
We grilled lettuce. It was good. That is all. (recipe) (Does this mean we are losing it? Hope not.)
I’m doing another Summer Book Giveaway, and these are the books: 1) Southern Quilts and Twisted (Kerr) (they go as one) 2) The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting (Walkers and Watson) (autographed) 3) The Quilt Design Coloring Workbook (Knauer) 4) Quilt with Tula and Angela (Pink and Walters) (autographed)
Since summer’s almost over, they’ll go in one big splat. Enter the name of the one you want, and slip it into the comments below, along with telling me the hottest summer day you ever had. I don’t care if you want two different ones; enter twice, and we’ll see what the Random Husband Winner Generator comes up with.
As far as hottest summer day, I have two: The first one was when I was pregnant with child #3, and we moved from California to upstate New York and the new house had no air conditioning, and it was during a heat wave. We finally bought one window unit and put it in the dining room (that has to be one of the reasons why we divorced later on) so the kids and I would gather there all afternoon and into the evening, mounds of toys and books and snacks under the dining room table while I lay there, so very pregnant and so very hot, so very sticky, humid, and miserable. (She was born mid-August.)
The second one was a July day spent in Montreal, Canada with the temperature climbing well above triple digits. That’s not necessarily the worst heat I’ve ever been in, but we were tourists and kept trying to go out and explore the city and see the sights while everyone else was in their right minds, and stayed in. About the third day, we gave up–going out only in the morning, coming home for the afternoon to the air-conditioned hotel, and heading back out at night, catching the bagpipers in the evening Mardi Gras Parade.
UPDATE: GIVEAWAY CLOSED. THANKS FOR ENTERING! Leave your Hot Summer Day comment below!
There’s this interesting explanation in a Wrinkle in Time, or at least I remember it and hope it’s there, where the main character tries to help the children understand this concept of a shortcut in time, and she demonstrates it with a string and a crawling ant. Or maybe that’s not in the book at all, and I just remember if from somewhere, but at any rate, the point is that I’ve had a wrinkle in time with this quilt.
This photo was taken in January 2020 at the end of Road to California, where my quilt Azulejos hung in a special exhibit at Road to California. It was this one that recently prompted Catherine H, a reader, to get in touch with me asking for the pattern. I’d made several stabs at it, but now I really buckled down to writing. So there’s the shortcut — a bridging of time from January 2020 to July 2022 — a shortcut not unlike those found in novels with children (and where were their mothers??) and IKEA warehouses, where you are trying to get out of there and pay for all your impulse purchases, and yet you still have to go through chairs and desks and lighting and rugs…unless you can find the shortcut.
I had some other ideas about what this pattern could do though, so got busy and made this blue/yellow/aqua/sea/glints of sun wallhanging, calling it SeaDepths. I had fun making it in solids:
It’s still a flimsy, though. Looking forward to sandwiching it together and getting to the quilting.
This block was supposed to be another version of the pattern, done up in scrappy red-and-white, like this sketch shows:
But, alas, the sprained ankle/broken bone/cast-or-boot-or-what problem persisted, so instead of sewing up a storm at the machine (it’s a quick and easy pattern, with the cleverness in how you trim it up), I kept my foot up and edited photos of an earlier photo shoot of the first rendition of Azulejos, with photos taken near some of the old greenhouses and lab buildings for our university:
It has a basic set of instructions for the version of Azulejos above, as well as SeaDepths. I illustrate two other versions, one in Cheddar and Indigo, and the one you saw above in scrappy red/white. Or at least that’s how I evisioned it. So three sizes, three versions, two sizes of block templates and a wall-hanging. Not bad for one pattern, I’d say. A free downloadable Preview sheet on PayHip will give you the rundown.
The technical name for this shortcut between two different times is an Einstein-Rosen bridge, more colloquially known as a wormhole. Jody Foster, in her role as a scientist who hunted for “little green men” on a SETI project, famously traveled in one in the movie Contact, a film I can watch over and over again. Actually I have a whole collection of space movies, from the goofy one that got me through grad school, Galaxy Quest, to Interstellar.
Sometimes I have my own version of an Einstein-Rosen bridge when I un-earth an older project, abandoned for lack of time or interest (or both) and when I come back to it, I find it interesting or even something that juices up creative connections. When I first made Azulejos, I thought it was a one and done, as it was the shapes in the quilt that interested me. Then, taking it up two years later, I found my way to other variations and then to SeaDepths, whose colors I could get out of my mind. It was like there was a wormhole between those two variations.
I’m always surprised when a creative journey takes these kinds of twists and turns. It usually happens when I try to box something in, with a dismissive, “Oh, I know all about that,” with a sniff and a tilt of the head. To counter this attitude of immediately sizing something up prematurely, Xavier Encinas noted that “If there is something I’m learning over the years it is this: Take your time while setting up your ideas and take time to distance yourself from what you have done.” So maybe completing this pattern, finding the missing link to getting it done took some distance.
The year 1666 was the first recorded use of the word “minimal.” That was also the year, according to the Merriam-Webster Time Traveller feature, where the word “pandemic” was first turned up.
I looked it up because I was thinking about Minimalism — a word that showed up much later, in 1926 (the same year as estrogen, garlic salt, preemie and trick-or-treat) — and is defined as a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.
[And speaking of words, did you know that “fewtrils” was one of the words in the final rounds of the recent Spelling Bee? It means things of little value and first showed up in 1750, the same year as frosting, steering wheel and unimportant. I totally have to use fewtrils again.] I digress, but be warned, I have the Spelling Bee on my mind today.
Modern quilters seem to love this style. Gimme a bunch of squares, a field of white and we are in business. So I was surprised to note that my granddaughter Keagan was also a lover of minimalism, when she asked me to make her a quilt for her queen-sized college bed. I found out from her mother that Keagan is also an avid follower of a famous trendy store, so I wasn’t too surprised when, as we began to trade photos of possible quilts, that this one showed up. I tracked the origins of this one using Google Photo search, and sure enough–it’s listed in that famous trendy store, is made in India, and is hand-stitched. We are all familiar with these quilts.
Keagan’s only requirement besides: minimalistic, gray with touches of forest green, and queen-sized, was “snuggly.” I sent the completed quilt top, with some cotton-wool batting (pre-washed) to Wolf Girl Quilts, and she sent it back a couple of days ago, all finished.
Since breaking my ankle, I’ve had a few more hours of down-time, and since my past self was very kind to my future self, I had the binding all cut out and ready to go. So I sewed it all down yesterday: broken/sprained ankle up on a camp stool on the left, while the right foot worked the sewing machine pedal on the right. Today we took it out for photos, with Dave moving around, me gimping around (no cast on the foot, yes, the referral and call are in to ortho, I just keep it elevated except when I’m out photographing quilts).
The back is all white: Painter’s Palette Solids. I ordered a whole bolt of that stuff.
We usually use a contraption of two clamps held out on sticks, but the sticks broke, so the quilt is in the washer (we kept meaning to put on sturdier sticks…). I’ll press it lightly, wrap it up and mail it off to one of my two granddaughters headed for college this year!
Keagan’s Quilt Quilt No. 253 Began April 18, with designs showing how it will drape on the bed (below) Finished July 9, 2021 89″ wide x 92″ long (approximate)
I worked it up in Affinity Designer. There is no pattern, but you can figure out the gist of it from what’s in the sketch above.
Apparently “snuggly” is not a word, but “snuggle” is. It showed up in 1687, along with birdhouse, trigonometric and yawner. I hope all these words haven’t been a real yawner for you, but just in case…I’ll stop this post here.
Where does patriotism come from? The title for my quilt, “I Hear America Singing,” is from a poem by poet Walt Whitman. Today he might have been considered a type of patriotic American — one who saw and acknowledged the multitudes of regular Americans — and heard them sing their song of daily work (poem is at end of post).
“The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem,” said Whitman, and the poem, written in 1860 and published shortly before Lincoln’s inauguration, was a celebratory poem, lauding you and I — she and him, and those people over there. Karen Swallow Prior, in an article from The Atlantic, makes the observation that “Whitman’s claim stemmed from a belief that both poetry and democracy derive their power from their ability to create a unified whole out of disparate parts—a notion that is especially relevant at a time when America feels bitterly divided.” She goes on to say that:
“Notably, Whitman’s grammar (“the United States are”) signals his understanding of the country as a plural noun—not one uniform body, but a union of disparate parts. Whitman was centrally concerned with the American experiment in democracy and its power to produce “out of many, one,” even at as great a cost as the Civil War and the faltering Reconstruction. Whitman thus celebrates in his work the many kinds of individuals who make up a society as well as the tensions that bring individuals together in a variegated community.”
As Whitman asserts later in the preface to his Leaves of Grass:
The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors … but always most in the common people.
We often think that the ideal of “patriot” has an affiliation with war: the machines of war, the fighting and dying and the slogans and the confrontations, which leads in the end to the cemeteries of war, with honoring our war dead. We make that connection easily because we honor those who fought for our freedoms. I acknowledge them and am grateful for them. However, if it is defined only this way, it’s easy to feel separated from the idea of being a patriot, from patriotism, and make “them” responsible for the well-being of our country.
So on this Fourth of July, I wanted to emphasize a different sort of connection to patriot. That it is not found in going to war. It’s not in defined battles. It’s in us, the people. It’s in our going out of our way to take care of our neighbors, with their varied songs and carols and labor and daily work. It’s in going to that daily work, from the work of masons and shipbuilders and deckhands and mothering and washing and sewing: “Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else.”
Stephan Cushman noted, “Although we hear the words “patriot,” “patriotic,” and “patriotism” all around us … we do not have many useful public models for combining genuine celebration of the United States with constructive criticism of it.” Cushman gives a nod to the idea that “patriot” is a formal label that can be worn on one’s chest. But after noting that Whitman used that word sparingly in his volume of poetry Leaves of Grass, Cushman goes on to say:
“Different readers might offer different explanations for the paucity of direct references to patriotism in Whitman’s writing, but one that feels plausible to me is that someone so deeply engaged in celebrating various aspects of the United States, and in identifying himself with his image or images of an American ethos, had little need or ability to separate himself from that celebration and objectify it with an abstract term like “patriotism.” Or, to put the matter more bluntly and reductively, Whitman was too busy celebrating himself and his country, and insisting on the connections between them, to spend much time crowing self-righteously about how patriotic he was and how deeply he believed in the value of patriotism.”
Perhaps the greatest patriotism is in seeing each other, in realizing how alike we are and how dissimilar we are, making us figure out how to negotiate, how to keep the peace, how to be respectful. This is why one reason my husband and I photographed this quilt at our county’s 1903 Courthouse, a place administering and honoring those laws that are part of the the thousand daily comprises we make to keep our country stable and thriving. We also chose this place because it’s also really beautiful, with its craftmanship intact; this place generates in me that old-fashioned kind of feeling of pride, and yes, of patriotism.
As I have traveled around the world, I have found patriots in all countries, loyal to the carols they hear around them, fiercely proud of what makes their country the best one ever. It would indeed be a great world if we could all think like that, seeing this similarity as something that can unite.
Finally, Swallow Prior brings another gentle affirmation for this idea of America as a poem by mentioning Harvard professor Elaine Scarry, who “describes the importance of multiple viewpoints, arguments, and counterarguments to ‘political assembly,’ [and wonders] how ‘will one hear the nuances of even this debate unless one also makes oneself available to the songs of birds or poets?’ The basis of poetry is precisely those connections forged between different elements, different voices, and different perspectives. In envisioning the United States as “the greatest poem,” Whitman links the essence of poetry, which is unity within diversity, to the essence of democracy.”
I am a patriot of the singing kind, the poetry kind. I will always love America. And so I present to you my quilt, I Hear America Singing, a celebration of that great American poem that Whitman believed us to be.
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck, The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
This quilt started on Zoom. Several weeks ago as our family was having their weekly Zoom get-together, my brother hinted (strongly) that he wouldn’t mind having one of my quilts, you know, in blues–lots of them. He just loved blues.
It began with a block writ large. I used a basic nine-patch (see details below) that measured 12″ per block, so 4″ parts. It was a joy to work with blue and white, a favorite.
I have the above blue and white currently on the bottom of my bed, and must admit to having a lot of blue in my stash, so it was easy to pull fabrics for this quilt.
We’re lucky in June, out here in California, to have two flowering trees at the same time: the purple jacaranda, and the yellow Palo Verde. And I wanted photos with both.
My quilt-holding husband obliged. We stopped on the way home from church, and here you can see our nifty quilt-holding contraptions: a clamp duct-taped to a sturdy stick (you could use a dowel).
He received it yesterday and is thrilled to have it.
The block, pulled from my BlockBase+ software, is the Double Hour Glass block with a bit different coloration. I enlarged it to 12″ size, then went to town piecing it. The quilting pattern is Belly Bop, and my quilter Kelley used a silver Microquilter thread (#7007) on the top, and barely off-white 401 So Fine in the bobbin. Both threads are made by Superior Threads. The batting was Soft and Bright, by The Warm Company.
This is Quilt #249 in my Quilt Index of finished quilts.