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!
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.
When you are stuck, it is. I love those houses, but…No.
New favorite. I ordered two more yards.
I love having scraps of batting that are just the right size.
Letting us both rest after a few hours of quilting.
Here come the beauty shots. (Isn’t that little bee with the branch arms the cutest?)
I quilted whatever came into my head.
I haven’t measured it, I haven’t labeled it, but the saga of the Orphan-Blocks-into-Table-Runner is now complete. I’m sorry to say, it didn’t empty out my orphan blocks bin much. Now I have to think up another way to use some of those up. And I have to think up a name. These orphan blocks came from when I taught the First Monday Sew-day class of beginners about Square-in-a-Square, or Economy blocks.
I still love these little houses. Now I have the beginning of another quilt! Get the Pattern Lite here.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend.
Or, as my mother would say, Happy Decoration Day (some fascinating reading in this link). The weekend before Memorial Day, my mother and father would go out and decorate the graves of their grandparents and great-grandparents with flowers, the cemetary made beautiful with pots of mums everywhere. This is the gravestone of my Scottish gr-grandmother. I have two namesake gr-grandmother Elizabeths and I remember them both on this Decoration Day. While the origins of Memorial Day are generally thought to be about the war dead, because of my mother, I remember it also as a day to honor those long gone.
Wealth of Days Quilt no. 247 57″ wide by 70 1/2″ high
From my journal 9 January 2019: “Here we go again. Today I had rotator cuff repair surgery on the right arm. My little joke is that I only have two arms, so after this one is over with, I have no more shoulders to operate on.”
18 January 2019: “A dark day. But I was able to shower and dress myself, all the way, by myself. I also made the bed.”
24 January 2019: “Dave took me to Road to California today, where I saw Cindy and Janice and all three of my quilts. After about 90 minutes, I said I was ready to go home. But it was so good to get out of the house.”
1 February 2019: “I started the day in tears, but by the night things were better. I finished the January’s temp quilt flying geese strip, and started on the temperature quilt key block, a circle of flying geese.”
19 February 2019: “The sling wearing is finished! (Cue: Cheering) Another milestone: I did some rotary cutting. I made dinner and we watched another episode of Madam Secretary. So happy to be at this place!”
26 February 2019: “Mailed our taxes, then went to Quilter’s Cocoon for some retail therapy. New Kaffes were in and I picked up some browns for the new Lori Holt Bee Happy quilt.”
29 March 2019: “Photographed the Plitvicequilt in the fields of the Poppy Superbloom.”
24 April 2019: ” I just returned from Utah where I was the Utah Valley Quilt Guild’s “National Teacher.” Such a lovely experience, plus we saw about every relative possible that lives in Utah. Many years ago, I was pregnant with my first child on this day, wondering if he would ever come [he was 4 days late and was born the next day.]”
1 May 2019: Today L. [a girlfriend] and I had a good lunch out together. Tonight I started work on a quilt block that reminds me of ladybugs.”
15 June 2019: “Today was a lovely basic day. Dave went on a bike ride and I picked him up in the neighboring town because he had a flat tire. We then went out for a burger at In-N-Out. Back home, I finished up the days for May, and sewed the strip onto the rest of the temperature quilt.”
25 June 2019: “Saturday, Dave was trying to stomp down the Clean Green yard waste and the giant can tipped over, throwing him against the garage. We headed to Urgent Care, and they took him down to X-ray by himself. While he was there, in walks L., feeling awful. It was good to be there to talk with her. Found out that he’s broken three ribs.”
5 August 2019: “Updates: • L. never left Urgent Care, and was instead taken to the regional medical center. The diagnosis came back: Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. We are all devastated. • Turns out Dave only has two broken ribs, but is still sleeping in the recliner.” • Went to Parliament Artisan Chocolate and stocked up on chocolate bars. • I am having the time of my life talking to Quilt Guilds and teaching workshops. • I went to lunch with L., Carole, and Pat.”
1 October 2019: ” Biggest national news this week is that an impeachment inquiry has been opened up. Just wanted to note it in this journal, as so much in these pages is focused on my world, my people, and my feelings about all of that. Meanwhile, I’ll keep quilting, keep trying to be better. I’ll keep trying to forgive more. In September, I only slept in our house 12 days out of the month — gone the rest of the time. That’s too much.”
21 October 2019: “I went to my second quilt show this year: PIQF in Northern California with L, where I met up with Tracy, a quilter I’d corresponded with. More happy fun: Crossroads was published in QuiltMania.“
23 October 2019: “I finally made it to the grocery story today for some basics: tomatoes, canned goods, meat and some zucchini, as I’ve had a craving for zucchini bread ever since returning home from PIQF.”
3 November 2019: “I hate Daylight Savings Time. It is soooo nice to go back to regular sun time.”
13 November 2019: “Still dragging around after getting home yesterday from Guatemala to see my sister and her husband, who are on a church mission there. I had no idea that there were so many wonderful fabrics in that country. We didn’t travel very much this year. Next year, we are already planning a couple of international trips, but first, Thanksgiving at Barbara’s [our daughter].”
2 December 2019: “Our very first First Monday Sew-day was today. I taught them about the basics of rotary cutting and quilting, and Simone handled the color portion. We had it at Beth’s house, and it was a tangle of little children, laughing women, fabric and chatter. A good morning.”
25 December 2019: “Just went through a most wrenching, emotional day. We had a big fancy Christmas dinner at Mom and Dad’s, trying to ignore the fact that it was probably their last in their home of so many years. We helped them get papers signed for their new independent living place, and it was a dance of push and pull and trying not to cry, all while keeping up the Christmas Cheer. We said goodnight to them around 7 p.m., then drove down to our hotel in Salt Lake City. I could not just sit in the hotel room, so we parked and walked around Temple Square, taking in all the crowds, the lights, the nativity scene, the carols playing in the background, and an occasional quartet of missionaries serenading us with Christmas carols. It was good to be alone, but with people. It was good to walk. It was good to be with Dave.”
As these journal excerpts from 2019 show that the year came and went, a day at a time. I made this quilt a day at a time, each flying geese in the center showing the high and low temperatures of each day, along with the precipitation. I started calling it Wealth of Days when all of us had a year of days, not recognizing then as little gifts of time and experiences. We made plans, went on trips, had lunches and fun at quilt shows. We started quilts and finished them, and left some undone.
We had regular, precious life: a Wealth of Days.
The quilt and I on a windy day at City Hall, Riverside, California. Thanks to Dave for all the quilt holding, the photos and our life together this past year of covid. Update on L: she is home from her stem cell transplant treatment, and is taking one day at a time. Just like all of us.
Speech Acts for a Dying World 19″ high by 20″ wide
I thought a long time about whether to alter this quilt’s perfect original symmetry of twenty inches square. The design, by Yvonne Fuchs, called out for such a premise: neat, ordered, tidy, structurally sound. Even-keeled, if you will. But with the advent of 500,000 dead Americans from the covid-19 pandemic, our world was none of the above. We were not even-keeled, neat, ordered, or even structurally sound, given the riots in the Capitol in January over the continuing big lie of the election. I feel this keenly.
When our guild proposed a challenge, calling it Sounds and Voices, I was all ready with a design in my head of a vision of people beating pots and pans in solidarity with the essential workers in New York City, a rite that has its origins in the protests in Chile years ago: women in the streets beating pots and pans, protesting in what was known as a cacerolazo. These sounds and voices of a cacerolazo have spread to Spain, to Mexico, to many other cities around the world, but coming home to America as show of strength for those in the early days of this pandemic. Knowing now the roots of this sound, I wonder if it wasn’t also in protest: protest against our inability to take our American-made gumption and beat this thing soundly. But the virus is boss, no matter what we think, no matter how many pots we bang.
After too many weeks inside and of not traveling more than five miles from our home, I got up from the computer where I’d just seen the image above, and said, “We have to go to the beach. Today.” My husband and I had tossed the idea back and forth many times, but all of a sudden we just had to go.
We took some photos of a grandson’s quilt, had a burger at a local shop and even grabbed a few groceries at a new-to-us store: in other words, we refreshed, just for a few hours. Back home, in looking at my ideas for the challenge quilt, they too, had to change.
Less than two weeks after our trip to the beach, this awful number came into the news around me. You all know the statistics: how many more dead than our wars or combined wars, how many families with that proverbial empty seat at the table, how this number will not stop here, but keep going. And now I realized that I would change the quilt’s dimensions and purpose, making it 19″ high (for Covid-19) and 20″ wide, for the year 2020, when our pandemic started.
I started quilting while watching QuiltCon lectures.
This quadrant is about the noise: sounds, voices, getting larger and more obstructive. It’s the daily statistics, the numbers, the news, the anxious waiting for vaccines.
This quadrant has the wind, clearing my mind, corralling the noise and sounds into a restricted space, even though they try to expand. The starfish is on the beach, a transition between the offshore refreshing winds, and the ocean calling out a rhymthic hushing of the clenched ennui in our world.
Beach at the top, descending into the sea, with lots of shells, some of which I brought home with me.
I thought I was done at this point, but I kept thinking about all the references to hand-work and stitching at QuiltCon this year and last. How do I stitch a shell? A starfish? Questions with no answers are my needle and thread.
This quilt is in memorium to those who have died, and the title is taken from a poem by Peter Gizzi. I spent a long time with this poem, using all my rusty creative writing/reading skills to tease out the meanings from his words. This section shown is the final set of stanzas. It references voice with its “whole unholy grain” and I took grain to mean the quality of it, the chorusing of voice, but then he cuts to an allusion of paradise, that place where the dead will congregate after death. Grizzi carefully charts the passing of time with his naming the constellations in the sky: a hunter, a bear, all undergirded by the “sound of names,” calling out for the dying, the naming of those who are sick, or gone, or merely absent in a rest home or a hospital.
He ends the poem with the line “the parade of names,” a bell-like tolling, a constant recitation in our obituaries and our news stories, a clear marking of those leaving this world for the next. It’s this era’s verion of John McCrae’s classic poem In Flanders Fields, a short poem about the dialogue between the dead and the living, a reminder of those buried there, keeping watch yet battling onwards, wanting us to
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep.
While their enemy was about territories, and the next war’s was a horrific grinding of ideals and democracies under the hand of one small man, we must catch the torch, and not break the faith, no matter what our foe. Death is death. Those who are gone can never come back, yet are alive in memory and stories, fragments of lives told with the sound of our voices.