Chuck Nohara Blocks, and This N’ That

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It’s Chuck Nohara update time, as I just finished my last block for September.  This is how one of them started: a wonky mess.  I realized that while I had decided to paper piece this one, not each piece was identical to its brother/sister piece.  If you decide to do #CN1723 (which is how we identify them on Instagram), number the pieces from 1-8, so you get neighbors together, rather than mixing them up.  Yes, I unpicked it all and started again.

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Here are September’s blocks: #cn1723, #cn1105, #cn570, and #cn1454 (links are to IG).
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I cheated on the EPP on this one, as I first pieced together the four-patch, then treated it as one unit in the construction.chucknohara0916_4

Here they all are.  Now that we are getting closer to the end, I need to think about the shape I want to make.  I tend towards square quilts, so if that’s what I want to do, I only need four more.  Or eighteen.  (Maybe I won’t make it square.)kcity_1

You know already that I went to Kansas City, but I thought their restored Union Station was stunning, which includes the ornate ceiling and scrubbed-up chandeliers.
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The folks in Kansas City are rabid enthusiastic about their sports teams, as I’m sure you can see the Chiefs logo in one of the giant windows.
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While I was there I had a chance to sew on a new label for Starry Compass Rose, and it was good to see an old friend again.  Not only was my quilt an old friend, so were the people who work at Paintbrush Studios–it was Anne’s birthday and we all went to lunch to celebrate.  Yes, we sang to her in the restaurant–she is a lovely person and I was happy my trip coincided with her birthday.pbstudios_2 pbstudios_3

They do food big here; it was delicious (I took home the leftovers).  I think there’s a special feeling about the Midwest.  You kind of feel like the center of the universe there, with all the trains and planes and people having to go through there, or pass over there on the way to somewhere else.  I lived in the Midwest for a couple of years, and still have very fond memories (just not of the snow in the winter).shine_0916_back

Lastly, I finished Shine: The Circles Quilt, and have been photographing it in preparation to enter Road to California.  I’ll give a big reveal here in a couple of weeks after I finish some more photographs, but for now–it’s done by the deadline.

road-entry-for-2017Now comes the nerve-wracking waiting part.

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(I swiped this illustration from Susan’s blog: we are doing this Chuck stuff together.)

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Uppercase Fabrics, Kevin Umana, and Creativity Breakout

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This post is the story of two creatives, well, maybe three.  One is an artist living and working in Los Angeles.  That’s Kevin Umaña, up there.Vangool

Another is Janine Vangool, a graphic artist and editor-in-chief of Uppercase Magazine in Canada, who recently released a line of fabric through Windham Fabrics (photo of Janine from *here*).

And then there’s me, but you know what I look like.

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And it’s also the tale of two quilts and a quilt block (which is at the end, by the giveaway from Uppercase and Janine, so keep reading).KevinUmanaIGfeed1

Some time ago, my nephew linked me over to Kevin’s Instagram feed, as he knew I am slightly passionate about quilts and designs, and I’m especially in love the the “grid.”  Apparently Kevin loves it too, as well as color and shape and repeated lines. (All these images are posted with his permission.)
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I had sort of been in a creative slump, slightly burned out, not really knowing what to do next besides bee blocks and the Same Old. Idly scrolling through Kevin’s feed one afternoon, I found a few designs that interested me; he and I began to correspond, and then collaborate.

Stitch-IlloAbout the same time, Uppercase Magazine‘s Janine Vangool announced that they were producing an Encyclopedia (images from Uppercase’s website), and the one that interested me was her Stitch-Illo, one of three that was launching the Encyclopedia series.  Since I’d missed submitting to her Compendium (which is always on my nightstand), I went right to her website and started choosing pictures to submit, planning on getting the submission in early. Everything was going along swimmingly until I hit this question: “What makes your work unique?”

Unique?

No matter what I wrote, it sounded trite and useless and idiotic and banal and cliched, and believe I re-wrote the answer to that question about 50 times. I felt dead in the water.  (I’m sure Kevin wondered what happened to me.)  It was like coming up to a mirror and instead of seeing a reflection of my image, it was like seeing past me into an empty sewing room, forty million quilts stacked to the ceiling, but they were all somebody else’s vision or creation or idea.  Nothing unique anywhere.

That question rattled around in my head while on a trip with my husband, and where it rained nearly every day, giving me lots of time to think.  I slowly reviewed all the quilts I had pictures for while sitting in my hotel room, wondering; do we all make the same quilt, over and over?  Not our own same quilt, but the One of the Moment, currently seen on everyone’s Instagram feed, or splashed all over the quilty magazines?  Where was my unique?  If someone saw one of my quilts, would they say, “Oh, yes–that’s Elizabeth’s!”  And if I really had a unique, what was it?  What did it look like?  How could I tell it from someone else’s?

And in my more cynical moments, I’d say, “Well who cares, if it’s unique?  Doesn’t matter enough that I’m a maker, that I express myself with cloth and sewing and cutting and stitching?” Really helpful, right?

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Back home, I began looking at Kevin’s designs again.  In college we were encouraged to do “imitations” of writers, using their form in order to get the meter and the words under our creative nails, as a way of training up a writer. It was a form of limiting, giving us structure, but not letting us off the rails, so to speak.  So I decided to allow Kevin’s form to give me structure. And I chose to limit my fabrics to a (delightful) bundle of Janine’s Uppercase fabrics, which I’d purchased at Market.

The first experiment (above) with Kevin’s work was almost an exact copy.

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Umana Cross Quilt 2

But the second quilt took off on its own.

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The center cross morphed.
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Somewhere in here, the experiment sparked an original idea.  And when I quilted, I kept seeing more.Crossroads_3 Crossroads_2 Crossroads_1

Crossroads, after Umaña • Quilt #166

Until finally, I’m here.

I won’t tell you what I wrote for Uppercase, because in a way, it’s really irrelevant to the idea of this particular story.  What resonates is that challenge laid down in those words of the application, one that I think about to this day.  I’m incredibly grateful to Kevin for allowing me to collaborate with him, and to borrow a little from his light when I needed it.

I’m also grateful to creatives who make fabrics for me to use, such as the excellent line shown in this post.  All fabrics, with the exception of the solid white, are from Janine Vangool’s Uppercase Fabrics line.  Yes, even the wee metallic letters in the sunglasses below, an echo of Kevin’s at the top of the post.

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 (Chuck Nohara block #345. Pattern for the Crossroads quilt coming soon to Craftsy.)

And finally, the cheesy way to close out a conundrum: let somebody else do the talking for you.

I narrow-mindedly outlawed the word ‘unique.’ Practically every press release contains it. Practically nothing ever is. (Fred Hechinger)

Every person born in this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique and every man or woman’s foremost task is the actualization of his or her unique, unprecedented and never recurring possibilities. (Martin Buber)

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. (Margaret Mead)

Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it. (Tallulah Bankhead)

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When I saw Janine at Quilt Market, her booth was handing out free Uppercase Magazines.  Since I’ve been a subscriber for several years, I mentioned to Janine that with the free magazine I could instead do a Giveaway on my blog, and she handed me another magazine, her fabric catalogue and the charm pack of her fabrics to sweeten the pot.  To enter, please leave a comment.  Blog followers get double their chances (shameless promotion), but it’s not necessary to follow to win. 

NOTE: Giveaway now closed.  Thanks to all who entered.

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And finally…

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…congratulations to the winner of the Dresden Carnival book, Beth T, who wrote about making a squared Dresden plate block for her niece’s quilt.  I’ve sent you an email and I’ll get that off to you this week.  Thank you to all who entered.  You have lovely Dresden Plate Memories!

May’s Blocks (and some of June)

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Because my husband is busy this afternoon recovering from our trip (see below), I used an online generator to pick a winner today for the felt, and it’s Elizabeth (what a great name, eh?) who goes by catskillquilter.  Congratulations, Elizabeth!  I’ll be in touch to get that sent out to you.  I have two more giveaways lined up in the next couple of weeks, one courtesy of Uppercase Magazine, and the other from the Steam A Seam people (that one’s on June 13th–in conjunction with our continuing Hallowe’en 1904 QAL).  I’ll have some great news as well about that fabulous pattern.

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Here we go, first with quilt blocks from our Mid-Century Modern Bee: Carla of Grace and Favor asked for a modern churn dash block, saying she likes mustard and plum.  Above is my block, but I was tempted by this, from @myquiltdiet:
Sawtooth Churndash

I thought it would be fun to try, but Carla said “Too much work!” I could hear the laugh in her voice, so I smiled and went with tweaking the center bars to give it a bit of a twist.  I hope she likes it.

Spelling Bee May

In our Spelling Bee Quilt Bee, Susan of PatchworknPlay asked for words to make up her saying, which she’ll reveal on her blog.   I first took three words with “w’s” but then Simone had none, so I gave two back, leaving me with the above.

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Since NOT staying at home seems to be the thing I do the best lately, we headed out Friday for a mini-reunion with my husband’s family in Zion National Park, about 7 hours away.  You can tell who has been coming there for ages (this makes about trip #20 for me) as we say “heading to Zion’s” as if there’s a possessive element there.  (However, I do feel like it’s “my” park.)  To try and catch up with my patchwork, I took some Chuck Nohara blocks on the road, stitching them in the car and in the park.
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We invested in new air mattresses this year, twin blow-up beds, and those of you who have slept on a queen air mattress with another person while it slowly deflates all night long, know exactly why I replaced our aging air mattress.  It also helps that my favorite camp quilt, Hearts in the Pines, is made for a twin.  The pattern is out of print, but you can find the blocks in this previous post.  My husband’s bed later on got a green nine-patch, but he left it off because it was. . .

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…pretty dang hot this weekend. Snapshot was from the next day, where it turned out to have a high of 103 degrees F (about 40 C.)Zion16_3

My husband and I, my son and his wife and boys always go out to dinner at Zion Pizza and Noodle Company the first night, as we all love their pizzas, and who wants to cook after setting up camp? I love their scallopy crusts.
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We were tasked with getting the S’more supplies.  I cracked up when I saw a whole section just dedicated to this.Zion16_5

We rejoiced to have my husband’s niece (shown here in the Virgin River with the  youngest of her six children) join us.  Several weeks ago she underwent surgery for a brain tumor, and while under anesthesia, had a stroke.  She awoke to a mostly paralyzed left side and has undergone significant physical therapy just to be able to walk with occasional hesitation.  But she’s walking! She’s our own little success story, and she and her husband and family are our very own heroes.Zion16_6 Zion16_7

Throwing rocks in the river was great entertainment for my grandson and the other small cousins. (No, he couldn’t lift that one.)Zion16_9

I left the river early because it was too hot, and went back to camp.  I picked up my Chuck Nohara stitching, sitting quietly in the shade, watching (and chasing away) the squirrels.  All of a sudden I hear a sound directly behind me, and using the reverse camera on my phone, caught this shot.  One of the other little cousins came running over, saying “Bambi’s here! Mom, Bambi’s here!”

Because of the above sitting quietly, I’m all caught up with my Chuck Nohara blocks from April and May:

April 2016 Chuck Nohara May 2016 Chuck NoharaNow to head into June!

Chuck Nohara • January 2016 blocks finished

Jan 2016 Chuck Nohara

Happy to report that I finished my January’s Chuck Nohara Blocks a few days early, even with totally redoing the house on the hill block (#cn968). (The upper left fabrics are from Sherri and Chelsi’s new line of fabrics, called Valley. Yes, that is a shameless plug for her two lines, as I love the colors and patterns.)  By the way, that  (#cn968) is how we tag them on Instagram if you are ever looking for a block, and want to see what others have done.  After seeing what others put together, I switched out the house colors (previous version shown below):

Old Chuck Nohara 968Yeah.  I didn’t like it much either, although I like all those fabrics.

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Chuck Nohara Jan16 planned

Jan 2016 Chuck Nohara totals

Here they all are so far.  No, I haven’t trimmed up all the blocks yet.  Mine will measure 6″ when they are finished (6 1/2″ trimmed).  Here’s February’s blocks, in case you want to think about them early:

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Quarterly Reveal on February 1st

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See you on February 2nd to begin our Oh Christmas Tree QAL!

Chuck Nohara Blocks • January 2016

Note: This was supposed to be published in a few days, but the Flying Monkeys took over and things just got a little out of control over here.  Over and Out.ChuckNoharaChoices2016

Most of the time, I keep the Chuck Nohara blocks confined to the immediacy of Instagram, but as we start a new month (and a new year), I thought I’d show where we are.

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Finished these.  Don’t be too harsh a critic on my skills, as some were done in a car, some in an airplane and some while in a hotel room.  But done is the operative word.

Chuck Nohara Jan16 planned

Starting to prep up these.  Two choices are from Susan, of PatchworkNPlay, and two are mine.  I love the ones that are a combo of hand appliqué and machine piecing.  Come and join us!  Refer to the earlier post for information about the book, 2001 New Patchwork Blocks, and follow our quilt-a-long on Instagram (#chucknoharaqal).

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P. S. There’s a giveaway coming up in my next post for the magazine Simply Moderne, which has the fabulous Oh Christmas Tree pattern in it.  Stay tuned.

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Final Finishes for 2015

Thank you for all your kind comments on IG and on the last post.  A lot of this post was mostly written before the San Bernardino tragedy, so it may seem lighthearted. But it still is Christmas and I still delight in making, in fact it is a great leveler in crazy times.  Enjoy the quilting.

Rosette #5

Rosette #5 is finished, so now I can start to plan #6.  I loved the fabrics that fell into place on this one.Chuck Nohara11_15 blocks

Here’s November’s Chuck Nohara blocks.  These all measure 6″ finished, so they are like eating small bites of chocolate.  I even got the “hollow” on the cherries embroidered since last time.  The blocks on the second row on either end, are using fabrics from A Quilting Life’s Bright Sun line of fabrics, and the center one uses fabrics from their Valley collection.

Bright Sun FabricsBright Sun is above. I like how different they are, yet they all coordinate.  (Yes, Sherri is a friend, and yes, I bought these from Fat Quarter Shop.)

Here are some of the steps I took for two of the blocks:

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I started here, tracing the outline of the handle with a chalk pencil.  I then clipped the edges, and finger pressed it, rolling the chalked line to the underneath as I went (a trick from Becky Goldsmith of Piece O Cake).  I centered it on the upper piece, but just pinned it.  As I stitched (later on) I also ended up trimming down the seam allowance to a scant 1/4″–here it is a fat 1/4.”

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I figured out where I wanted the flowers on the upper basket rim, then ironed down my freezer paper (I traced it from the book’s enlarged picture) and traced around it.CN904_6 CN904_6a

I traced the lower basket and side edges, labeled them, then clipped them apart so I could fussy cut the arrows from the fabric.  I stitched it all together, and added the lower edge.
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I gauged where the handle would fall in relation to the basket using a ruler, then appliquéd it down. CN904_4

I double-checked it again.  At six inches, there’s not a lot of leeway for mistakes, yet the blocks do sew up quickly.

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I pinned the basket bottom to the top piece and hand-appliqued it down.

CN904_5ajpgI trimmed the upper piece after sewing it.

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Next.  Start here.  Seam together the flowery petal pieces, then lay them over the corner wedge. CN432_3

I began appliquéing from the center, out to each side.  Trust me on this.

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Seam together two, then four.  Then sew together each side.

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The dots save you from agonizing over that center join, and are kind of fun.

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Here’s what we have put up for December.  Even though we have listed four blocks, you only have to do two to feel good about yourself, especially in the month of December.

2015 December Chuck Nohara

2015 December MCM_ERichards

Lastly, my last bee blocks for Mid-Century Modern are finished. More info can be found on our blog.

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Keep sewing, my friends.  Stay safe.  Celebrate regular days and regular life, and really celebrate Christmas this year, both in word and in deed.