Home, Sweet, Home Mini-Quilt Class

 

HomeSweetHomeClassRecently I taught a class for my Home, Sweet, Home mini quilt.  I snapped these photos as they were working; they’d all mostly prepped up their pieces before coming, and it made the class go quite smoothly.  I loved all the different ways that people did their blocks (shown here at our Guild Meeting):

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Here are most of them (some didn’t bring them to Guild):

It wasn’t until posting these up that I found two errors in these quilts.  Isn’t it funny that you don’t see things…until you do?  (Hint: it’s in the bushes.)  I love the rainbow quilt made by my friend Lisa.  I may have to make one for myself.

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(Breaking News: Melissa finished hers!)

Joe Cunningham Lecture * QuiltFest Palm Springs • Sept 2016

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Self Portrait, by Joe Cunningham

The evening of my class with Joe Cunningham, he had a lecture in the hotel, and since there were only four of us, he told the organizers he could hold up his own quilts and talk at the same time.  So we began with a song of his (guitar and all) and then he pulled out his quilts. In between we got “four lectures in one,” as he talked about how he came to quilting.  He’d started collaborating with Gwen Marston in 1975, and then she taught him to quilt.  They were both inspired by the collection of an older quilter with her handmade quilts, a woman who kept the quilting tradition alive during the middle years of the past century.  In 1990, he ended his collaboration with Gwen Marston, moved to New York, then to San Francisco to work with the Esprit Collection of quilts.  He never left.

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Lake Street House, by Joe Cunningham

He developed this quilting process working in conjunction with the people at Handi Quilter, where he could enter in a complex pattern into a computer and “tile” it back onto his quilt in the quilting.  Each tile takes about 45 minutes to quilt, but creates all sorts of interesting patterns in the quilting.  I asked him about the trend to matchstick quilting, and he had only one thing to say: “lost a chance to be creative.”
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And this is how he labels/signs his quilts: his name and the year stitched into the top.

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I’m on a Quilt, by Joe Cunningham

Both Joe and Luke Haynes, another art-centered quilter who is male, seem to be quite adventurous in the use of large blocks of particularly unattractive (ugly?) fabric and making that fabric hew to their vision of the quilt, an approach worth learning.  So much of what I see is that we quilters are the ones commanded BY the fabric to the end result, rather than the opposite tack.

Something else I noted in his approach — that I also see in Luke Haynes —  is figuring out the space where quilting and the art world collide and how to use that tension and friction.

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(Of course, I’m fascinated by the mundane: how he folds his quilts so there are no creases.)

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Kiev Protesters Quilt, by Joe Cunningham

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Detail, Kiev Protesters Quilt

He talked about how a quilt is allowed to say several things: I love you.  I’m thinking about you. Memorial quilts.  But he was fascinated one day by the blockades in Kiev, and how those who were protesting just fell to sleep anywhere.

For me this quilt reminded me of what he said in class: that he makes a quilt to see what it will look like.

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Bicameral Lovers Knot, by Joe Cunningham

Log cabin blocks are in the background.  Look up what bicameral is, if you don’t know.

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New York Beauty, by Joe Cunningham

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Back of New York Beauty, showing the quilting

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Mountain/Mountaineer, by Joe Cunningham

Luke gave him some of the leftover Log Cabin blocks from his recent exhibit, and Joe made them into this quilt, minus the mountaineer.  His wife walked in where it was hanging and said that he needed a figure there, so Joe gave it back to Luke, who added the climber

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Crazy City–San Francisco, by Joe Cunningham

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Back of Crazy City–San Francisco

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Crazy City–the Creek, by Joe Cunningham

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Back

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Tar Patch Quilt, by Joe Cunningham

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Detail and Signature

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He covered so many topics that I can’t write them all here, but they were fascinating and I thought about them all the way home, such as (I’m paraphrasing):

  • If a piece of art looks like art, then it’s somebody else’s art.  [Can’t we apply this to our quilts?]
  • The brilliance of quilts in the colonies [our early American colonies] was in the egalitarian nature of it.  It wasn’t just for the rich, which it had been earlier when quilting was done in imitation of European quilts, but it was for the masses.
  • These women changed the definition of a quilt from a commercial item to a gift.  The quilting, done around a frame, cost no money.  Because of this, it remained in the realm of women and was invisible to the men, especially the merchant class.
  • Quilts from Europe in the earliest days were of four types: whole cloth, honeycomb (think EPP), strippy or medallion.  From there, we invented blocks.  From four types, we know have over 400,000 different patterns, an independent realm created by women.
  • And finally: “We make quilts like everyone else…unless you don’t want to.”  A trap door exists for us to escape the sameness and make our own vision.

I love classes where I have as much for the brain as I do for the creative, visual, tactile side of the equation, and this lecture certainly gave me everything.  I’m so glad I was able to go, and so glad QuiltFest brought out this great speaker.

Workshop with Joe Cunningham • Sept. 2016

Early this month, I got up at very early in the morning and drove an hour to the Palm Springs Convention Center (well, really, the hotel next door) as I was scheduled to take a class with Joe Cunningham during the recent Quiltfest Oasis Palm Springs, with its emphasis on Modern Quilts.  Libs Elliot was also teaching, but I was interested in Joe because of a video I’d watched about him and his quilting long ago.  He was on Craft in America, a series on PBS, and as he was the only quilter in the series at that time, I was amazed that he was teaching within an hour from my house.  I think I registered for QuiltFest on the first day, I was so excited.  To explain the video above: it was a lovely quirky thing, but he brought his guitar and sang and played for us.  Now I wish every conference class had live music like this: classic tunes, played on the guitar.  He even took my request and played  Blackbird (by the Beatles).  It was lovely.

To get our class started, he talked about how he approached quilts: “I think of something I want to “do” and then see how it looks.  The reason I’m making it is to find out what it looks like.”  He has a strict process, including the idea that since we are making chaos in our cutting and sewing, and it would be good to limit our fabrics to control the chaos.

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So what was the class?  Basically it was the stripped down version of that joke we quilters all make: we cut fabric apart and sewed it back together.  However, first we had to choose our fabrics.  He’d told us to bring four 1 yard pieces of fabric; I brought six or seven, but really it was a relief not to haul my stash to a class (the usual).  He went around the room, and by what he said as helped us choose, I noticed the following ideas:

avoid things that look like they go together (like using fabrics from one line or designer)
neutral ground is good
high contrast between the three fabrics is good
look for a variation in scale and visual texture

He then gave us a handout with a specific way of cutting and sewing the pieces back together.  I got to work.

We all sewed all morning, and before I left to get my lunch, I had the stack of blocks (above) all finished.
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Lunch was at Sherman’s Deli, which was just around the corner from where we were working.  Three of us went over and got salads, then sat out on the pool deck at the hotel, enjoying the beautiful day.  Then it was back to work.cunninghamclass_3

Basically it was to put all the blocks up on the wall, and make them work together.  Well, at first I felt like the story about the classes at QuiltCon 2015 with the Gee’s Bend Quilters.  All of the quilters sat there, expecting the Gee’s Bend Quilters to tell them how to sew.  But after their opening of a hymn and a prayer, they turned to the women in the class and said, “Well, get to sewing!”  (Told to me by someone who was in the class)

I fully expected to just make blocks according to Joe’s directions and have it stop there.  But amazingly, the language of design he was schooling us in started to make sense.  That first picture was just blocks slapped up there.  But then I could see the possibilities in mine, that he’d showed in someone else’s.  And I began to arrange them to some remarkable inner vibe and weirdness. Here are some of the other arrangements happening around the room:

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More music, more switching things around.  He was always available for help, but I wanted to try this strange magic all by myself.  After cutting, arranging, sewing, it just wasn’t happening.  Then I took a photo, flipped it 180 degrees and it was like the tumblers in a lock falling into place.

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I look pretty tired

This is where I was at the end of the class, at 4 p.m.  I’m sure you are saying “what???” and I actually sort of agree.  I’m not really an improv person, because frankly I just never got that religion, but this technique of his was actually quite fun, and I didn’t waste the gallons of fabric I usually do when trying to do improv.

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Our class.  cunninghamclass_9a

Everyone cleared out, but the organizers let me stay and work, since I was signed up for the lecture that night and really had no where to go.  I had a lunch with me so I wasn’t worried about dinner, and just wanted to keep going on the borders.  I had a great piece of greyed circles fabric with me, and I thought I would try to see if it could meld on what I was working on.  So I started by extending blocks of color out from the quilt, and filling in with the circles.  I got to the above right photo and it was five o’clock and I wanted a break before the lecture (plus ice my sore shoulder).

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The nice guys at the pool deck bar let me have some ice, and I sat outside watching the gauzy curtains on these poolside bed/canopies float in the slight breeze, while eating my dinner and icing my shoulder.  It was a great break.  This conference was also on the same weekend as Desert Trip, that music festival with all the oldsters playing, and it had decimated the attendance at QuiltFest.  There were only six people in our class (amazing) and it turned out there were only four at the lecture that night (see next post).

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So this is where it all ended.  It’s not a huge quilt–maybe 33″ square–but it was a good experience in trying a new method.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Class with Gwen Marston in San Luis Obispo

NOTE: If you are looking for the Uppercase Magazine and fabric giveaway, it’s *here.*

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Last weekend I had a chance to take a class from Gwen Marston, who is retiring this year.  I have several of her books, and have long been an admirer.  It was held in San Luis Obispo, so my husband brought his bike and came with me to help with the driving and so we could enjoy the town.  It was held at SLO Creative Studio, a place where they hold classes, teach long-arm quilting.  The place was filled with tables and long-arm machines, and touches of Gwen were everywhere, as in the quilt, above.  It was fun to see in person.

Wonky Baskets

Just to show you I’m a bonafide Gwen Fan, here’s the quilt I made, inspired by hers.Gwen_2

She started the class a bit early, telling about where she lived, giving us a couple of stories, then launched into the class, which was sewing traditional small quilts.  It was fun to hear her talk–she’s very entertaining–and of course, I loved all the small quilts.Gwen_3 Gwen_4 Gwen_5 Gwen_6

Here are some students trying to figure out the sizes of pieces.Gwen_6a Gwen_7 Gwen_8 Gwen_9 Gwen_students working

Our charge was to get cutting, get sewing.  She challenged us to use traditional methods, of cutting a bunch of squares, bunch of triangles, saying the new ways didn’t seem to cut much time from the construction.Gwen_student work Gwen_and me Gwen_stack of quilts

The quilts all stacked up.

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A couple of her labels.  She used to roll the fabric down into a typewriter, type out her label, and then sew it on.  Well, they weren’t really labels–they were typing on the sleeve.  I enjoyed working in the traditional methods, but I must admit my eye was drawn to this series of baskets (below), made by a student in the previous day’s class.
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I took my lunch outside to get a break from the classroom.  They had us order in from a local sandwich shop, Ben Franklin’s, which was great.  Then I went back in and I sewed and sewed and pressed and sewed the old fashioned way. Gwen_my little quilt

I can’t say it was any faster, but it didn’t seem to be slower, either.  But I’d have to say it was a more inaccurate to sew together a bunch of squares, than to make strip sets, and measure out my HSTs and know where I was going.  I didn’t true up any squares, but just threw it together, so it’s a bit wonky.  But I did get something done, which is not always possible when sewing away from my usual space. I seem to have patriotic on my mind, as it was Friday, of the 4th of July weekend.

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My husband, after enjoying his bike ride, picked me up and we ran an errand to Betty’s Fabrics, a nice shop in town.Gwen_SLO mission

While in SLO (as they abbreviate their town’s name), we also went to their Thursday night Street Market (the night before class) and had barbecue.  After class we visited the San Luis Obispo Mission (above), and tucked into the museum to see their exhibit.  I loved the mixed media piece below.
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And there was a quilt in the exhibit, too!
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In the plaza in front of the Mission, a live band was playing (this town has all the fun!).  We were able to get a seat out on the patio at Luna Red next door, and ate our happy hour appetizers while enjoying the music. (Black Bean Hummus, above)Gwen_concert

After, we sat on the bench just outside the Mission, talked about the bikes in the “bike parking lot” out front, and enjoyed the evening.  My husband is most understanding about the quilt passion that seems to leak out of me all the time, as well as being very supportive, which I appreciate more than I can say.  Sitting there on the bench, watching the passers-by and just visiting about nothing much, was the perfect ending to a weekend away.

Sometimes it is the small things that matter most.

Quilt Market May 2016 • Day One • Giveaway

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Yes! folks.  That is me standing under the sign, nervous and excited as all get out. Yeah, I know it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.  And there’s a little bit of a giveaway at the end, just to reward you for reading all the way through.

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I’d entered the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City that morning, dazed and confused even though several people had given me good advice for Going to Quilt Market.  I came down the escalators to the left (out of sight), trying to figure out what to do next, when a lovely woman walked towards me.

QMarket_Claudia and I

Claudia, the owner of Snowed In Quilt Shop in Panguitch, Utah showed me where to pick up my badge.  She then told me to pay for SchoolHouse (all-day classes) and for Sample Spree (really?  I’m going to that time-honored craziness??).  I designated her my “Handler for Quilt Market,” and off we went to Schoolhouse.

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Wait, what?
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This is better.  We shared the building with burly guys wearing T-shirst that said Coal: Clean & Abundant, as they went to their meetings in a wing of the convention center.QMarket2

First up: a plenary session where the first 700 who picked up their schedules also got a ticket for a souvenir tote bag from Cotton and Steel.  I’d heard about the freebies here (actually less than you think) and was happy that I could get something fun right off the bat.  It opened with the officials telling us the stats of our industry, among other pleasantries.

For the very next presenters were the Cotton & Steel gang, all young women, announcing their partnership with Rifle Paper Company, and the new fabric line where they showed us us a video.  We had a small sample of it in our freebie bags.  We weren’t yet allowed into the exhibition hall, as everyone was still setting up their booths.  It dawned on me only later that I had a badge that would let me in.  (Trying not to overuse my Super Powers, here. . .) However, I didn’t have time to go in until later, as I was busy going to Schoolhouse.  Claudia and I went back and forth between the two sets of classrooms, about a 3-minute walk between them, until we wised up and chose classes in a clump next to each other.
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This presentation by Ink & Arrow/Quilting Treasures was stellar.  I learned a LOT.  Every quilt shop should have attended this one.QMarket_Schoolhouse4

Plus the brownies in their little giveaway bag were a nice treat.QMarket_Schoolhouse5

Many of the Schoolhouse classes are like this one: an introduction to a new line of fabrics, in this case Frou-Frou, distributed by ClothWorks, Inc.  I liked what the head of Frou-Frou was saying about quilting being like cooking.  “Spaghetti” in column 2 is actually skinny tubing, suitable for spaghetti straps on clothing.
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I loved Maywood Fabrics’ presentation.  Claudia won a bundle of their fabric.  She actually won two times that day, which is nice payment for her having to drag me around.
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Somewhere in here, at the urging of my darling husband (yes, he is!) I went down to the floor to see my  quilt hanging up.  Sigh.  You read all about that yesterday, so I won’t bore you today, but it was wonderful.  (And yes, I’d finally figured out at that point that I had a badge that would let me do that.)QMarket_Schoolhouse6

After lunch it was more classes.  Here’s Anna Maria Horner’s Schoolhouse class, showing off her amazing quilt.  And skirts.  And fabric.  And more quilts. And her fine sense of humor.QMarket_Schoolhouse6a QMarket_Schoolhouse6b

(Reverse applique flower and leaves)
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So glad to see her in fine form.  We’ve missed you, Eleanor Burns!QMarket_Schoolhouse8_moda QMarket_Schoolhouse8a_moda QMarket_Schoolhouse9_moda QMarket_Schoolhouse9a_moda

The Moda Schoolhouse was all about their program starting in fall and continuing through next year: “Be My Neighbor,” where they will give out “blueprints” of blocks to fabric shops, where we plebeians can get them.  I’ve already made a house quilt, (click *here* to see and to get free downloadable patterns, too) but after looking at this one, it’s mighty tempting to try another.

By now Claudia and I are dragging and we have to muster up some strength to make it to Sample Spree that evening. QMarket_Schoolhouse10

So we stayed in our seats through another designer’s presentation (basically a demo of all her new products and how we could buy them) then went next door to Moda/Martingale’s presentation of the Match Game, featuring quilty terms, and a cast of brilliant stars (some lined up above).  It was really funny, and very high energy and we had a great time.  Some of the quilts featured in the book are below, slightly blurry as they were parading them before us at a pretty good clip:QMarket_Schoolhouse10a QMarket_Schoolhouse10b QMarket_Schoolhouse10c QMarket_Schoolhouse10d QMarket_Schoolhouse10e QMarket_Schoolhouse10f QMarket_Schoolhouse10g QMarket_Schoolhouse10h

There.  Now you’ve had your fill of eye-candy for one post. (I do think I’ll get this book.) We went to find dinner and I took a photo of the sample spree line from the second floor, where people had been lining up for hours:QMarket_SampleSpreeLineQMarket_exhibitor floor

And then I took one of the market floor.  See those people laying green carpet over to the left?  Stay with me now, there’s a story there.  Claudia and I grabbed a salad for dinner, and ate it quietly away from the Sample Spree line.  She agreed to watch my bags while I went in for one last pictureQMarket_onelastlookz QMarket_onelastlook

I came out of the aisle just as three uber burley guys gave the green carpet runner a hefty yank to the left. . . and I fell down to the right.  Yes, so graceful, but the rug had been pulled out from under me, just like in the cartoons.  The burley guys to the right came running over.  One of them was the crew leader, and after watching me get up (again, incredibly graceful *ahem*) he insisted I go to the boss of the crew.  I followed him to the loading dock, where it smelled like brine, a storm coming in off the salty Great Salt Lake.  Kind of like being at the ocean, really.
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Then he insisted I go to the Floor Boss, who was driving around somewhere on a yellow cart.  You think if they were so concerned about my injuries that they would have put ME on one of those dumb carts and driven me around, but no.  I had to go with this guy, chasing around looking for the other guy on the dumb cart.  We found him, but I explained that I was going to miss my PARTY and that my friend had my bags and I needed to go and get them, and really I felt fine (but knowing the next day I was going to feel it).  He agreed to let me release Claudia so she could get in line.

Now I’m carrying all my loot from today, and following this guy around.  Back to the loading dock, where we get another boss, who determines that I should to see Security. (But my PARTY!! I want to scream, for that’s what Sample Spree was to them–how could I explain what would be the mad dash of frothing quilters straight for the Rifle Paper Company new fabric line by Cotton & Steel?)  He takes me along the back of the convention hall, to a wide gaping doorway and I realize I’m looking at Sample Spree and nobody is in here!!  Did I take advantage of this and grab a stack?  No.  Like a good little girl, I follow the guy through the other doors, out into the hallway, where everyone in line is looking me, like “How’d she get in there?”

We go down the lines of foyer-sitters, into the office.  He says “This is the lady who fell down.”  Wait.  I pipe up to say, “I didn’t fall down.  Someone yanked the carpet from under my feet!”  I was asked to wait while they called for an EMT, and while I was waiting, would I write a description.  The EMT guy arrives and wants me to go in an ambulance to the ER.

Meanwhile. . . I can see the lines start to move into Sample Spree.  I turn to him, and say “My Party is starting! I’ve got to go!”  He assesses me (no slurring of speech, no fuzzy vision, no impact to the head, appears to be somewhat sane and walking straight); I sign waivers to not to go the ER in an ambulance.  But by now, I’ll be at the back of the wagon train in the Sample Spree line.  So I look at him and say, “You look official.  Can you walk me to the front of the line and get me in?”  He smiles, agrees, and we pass by hordes of frothing quilters, and I slip in past the Quilt Police, into Sample Spree.  I’m still achy, my hip and ankle are sore, and I know I’m going to feel it in the morning, but hey–I made it it to The Party.

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This sort of image was not unusual.  I decline to show you my group of bags so as not to incriminate myself, but I got in about halfway through the long line, and no, at that point there were no Rifle Paper Company stacks to be had unless I bought ALL of the new Cotton & Steel lines for a mere $271, which would include their tote bag.  Um, no.  But it was fun going around, seeing the FQs (Frothing Quilters) grab and push and terrify those on the inside of the tables as they snapped up their stacks and bundles, and overheated their credit cards.

Basement apt

I did see Claudia later on, and she asked how I was.  She’s lovely and terrific and as she was still shopping, and I was pretty spent (in all ways), I headed home to my sister’s new apartment in her basement, where I had a lovely space all to myself.  I took some ibuprofen, and while I was uploadiong some IG photos, all the power went out around me.

I looked outside: dark.  I looked on IG: all the quilters in the hotels downtown were freaking out, saying “Way to go–the Fabric Geeks broke Salt Lake!”  Sounds like the party was still going on.  I knew the light would wake me up when it came back on in the middle of the night, but I rolled over and went to sleep.

Giveaway Banner

Because I was surprised at how little freebies there were (I had to purchase most of my souvenirs, except for the bag I mentioned), I have one giveaway here and a couple of more over the next two weeks, courtesy of the people I’ll name.

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This first one is a charm pack with lots of colors of 100% wool felt, for those of you who are working on your tree (another one’s coming on June 2nd).  The colors are beautiful:

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It’s from National Non-Wovens, and they also donated some for our next Oh Christmas Tree post, just in case you don’t win this round. While this is a vendor, they will sell smaller quantities to us quilters at Commonwealth Felt.

In The Pines Book

The other item I’ll throw into the giveaway is this book by Carolyn Culling McCormick, In the Pines, from Kansas City Star Quilts.  This is a book of paper-pieced patterns so you can make the more traditional pine-tree quilts with tiny pieces.  The paper-piecing makes is manageable.  Leave a comment below and I’ll activate the Husband Random Name Generator and pick a winner (one winner will get both items).  This will close on Saturday, May 29th, my mother’s 88th birthday.  (Happy Birthday, Mom!)

NOTE: Comments now closed.  Winner to be announced in next post.

Next Up: Day Two of Market