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).

Gridsters · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Finish

Autumn Leaves • Quilt Finish

“When all that cautions the eyes toward the imminent
slide of autumn to arctic winds, the canopy of English elm
and sycamore leaves like colored coins fall and widen
a hole letting more light spill in, heaven’s alms
to earth…”
~from the poem “Washington Square,” by Major Jackson

And Denise Levertov’s poem asks Autumn: “can you pull me / into December?”

But wait, Denise. I’d like to stay here awhile, and enjoy the recent fall color all squeezed into this quilt:

Autumn Leaves • Quilt #269 • 50″ square

This was a group effort from Gridster Bee, a collaboration, much like when the forests in winter climates all talk to each other: “You do red this year,” says one. “I’ll do gold and brown. How about you do crimson?” and so on until the forest is “liked colored coins” that will eventually fall and widen. While more blocks than shown arrived, I had to widen the quilt to let that light spill in, so some are saved for another project, letting heaven’s alms fall to earth in more than one spot.

It started with these two, and morphed into a Pattern Lite, which you can grab here for under the price of a slice of pizza or a basket of beignets at our local beignet place. While you are there, don’t forget to snag the SpiderWeb pattern, which is free until the end of October.

Pattern Shop: PayHip.com/opquilt

Last year around this time, I had a different quilt slung on the fence, and was working on two autumn-themed pillows Mr. Pumpkin and Crossed Lillies; seems like working with these colors is an annual festival.

The back, showing all the signatures of my beemates: Patti, Shelley, Bren, Carlene, Laurie, Melanie, Robin, Susan, Carolyn, Ramona, and Meredith. I am so grateful they all contributed. And gosh, I know I’m missing a label (coming soon), and double-gosh, the back almost looks like a Modern Quilt!

Portfolio of Group Quilts

And to honor — and catalogue — all the collaborations I’ve done, I added a new category to My Quilt Index tab, above: Portfolio of Group Quilts. I only have my quilts listed (not the group’s quilt), although I have done posts about the others in the past.

Here’s to roads diverging into yellow woods, and copper woods, and crimson–

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 · Quilt Finish

Eris • Quilt Finish

Eris • Quilt #265
54″ wide by 48″ tall

label on the back
photos taken at the California Air Resources Board, Riverside, California
sculpture is titled: Spatial Echoes of Breath, by Tomás Seraceno, 2021

Title of Sculpture: There Are Many Idioms About Breathing And Yet
by Kameelah Janan Rasheed, 2021

Since this photoshoot was at a facility that studies the quality of our California air, it was fitting that the idea of breath, or breathing, or air, was prominent in their public art all around the building. We toured the building, picked up the swag from the vendors and displays in the parking lot, the solar panels overhead shading us from the sun. Rasheed’s artist’s statement includes this line: “As a meditation on pacing and temporality, the artwork is a form of preparedness for the hard work ahead.”

Pacing — a steady pace? Don’t overreach? Don’t run faster than you have energy for? Keep up the pace?

Temporality— the state of existing within or having some relationship with time. Lived time (as opposed to clock time or objective time). Temporality is a term often used in philosophy to express the way time is understood, often as a straightforward procession of past, present, and future.

Some background: Love us or hate us, we here in Southern California are keenly aware of our air, and the effects that pollution has on our health. Too many of us live in communities polluted by automobile exhaust that combines with the moist air that comes in off the ocean: smog. Some communities are polluted by idling train engines. We have seen a distinct uptick in air pollution due to our online shopping habits from the pandemic. An increase of warehouses built at the eastern edge of our city, only a few miles from our home means the freeways are now clogged with semi-trucks bearing goods from the ports to the ocean of warehouses that have been built in this area in the last few years.

I have an asthma inhaler in my bathroom drawer; today in the exhibits in the parking lot, one vendor displayed about 10 of these devices, encouraging us toward cleaner driving, cleaner air, and an awareness of our temporality. Keep up the pace. But maybe…move a little faster.

About a year ago, I felt as if I were drowning. I couldn’t keep up the pace. I felt disconnected from time, certainly an effect of the pandemic in our lives. I know I wasn’t alone in these feelings. I tacked a giant calendar on the wall of our garage, and took to marking it off one day at a time. Keeping track. I pared down all interactions and responsibilities to almost nothing. I was choking in sadness, bad air, political pollution, weary to the bone. I am usually the biggest Pollyanna you’ll every see, but at that time there was no breath in me.

When we are stressed, we often say Breathe in, Breathe out. Take in good, let go of that which is exhausted. Find fresh, expel the stale. I decided to make space for new things (Heart’s Garden?), to re-examine what I had in my life, and what I could let go of. I have taken steps to regain my health, and finally feel as if I’m making my way back to myself.

I also found my way back to this quilt. It has been a satisfying period of finding quilts made in a rush, and now taking time (pacing?) to sit with the quilt, find the way to quilt it, to finish it. My husband Dave always finds great places for us to photograph, and willingly holds the quilt, a support in all ways. So it was fitting to photograph this quilt at a place which is concerned with breath, with air. The title, Eris, was a parallel to my inner world last fall, and the discord seems to continue into this year as well, with its Ukranian war, the J6 Committee findings, the ongoing pandemic (and now we are returning to using our masks).

But I worked in Harmony. I appreciated the safety of Order, the constraints of Geometry, the goodness of Grace. But most of all, I acknowledge the gift from the One who loves us all: Creativity.

Take a breath!

Other posts about this quilt:

Pattern is found in my PayHip shop and includes two different sizes.

This quilt had a working title of Spectral Light.
I write about the fabric in this post, stars shining brightly.
There are other, smaller versions of this quilt: Choose Something Like a Star.
Some of the quilting was written about in this post.
The original Triad Harmony Quilt Finish (quilt #234).
I taught a workshop for Coastal Quilters, and they produced a lot of amazing Triad Harmony quilts.

You’ll probably see this design again. I made a total of five different quilts for teaching, and have quilted three of them.

300 Quilts · Quilt Finish · This-and-That

A Tiny Spritz of Elements • Quilt Finish • This and That: Nov 2021

A Tiny Spritz of Elements • Quilt #259 in my Quilt Index
21″ square

So my husband asked me if this was another pillow. He has a point, as that seems the size I can manage lately, but no…this is a quilt. A mini quilt. It started in a swap of small 2″ unfinished blocks from the guild members at the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild. I made more.

The past few months I seemed to have fallen into a streak of really sad days, bad days, tired days, and one of my friends sent me a meme indicating that October was just about to break her, too. What is it about this phase of covid? Those who will, are getting vaccinated, but those of us who are at higher risk also have to make decisions: how will we live with this disease, since we aren’t going to hit the vaccination rate we need to. A bog, a verifiable, certifiable bog.

Then one morning I was sitting outside in the car, waiting for my perfect husband, and because the angle was right and having just shut the door, I was treated to a sparkling array of floating bits of light, the dust scattering flashing bits sunshine all around me as I sat. So often I’m in a rush, in a hurry, and don’t notice these tiny spritzes of cheer. I held the moment close; Dave got in and we drove off.

So that’s the name of this quilt made from tiny blocks, stitched with tiny quilting, each square representing those elements that come into our lives: sorrow, elation, peace, anger, frustration, happiness, forgiveness, repentance, sadness, love and most of all, hope.

When I finished making all my little elements, I saw a quilt from Zen Chic; I followed her lead in the arrangement. I’m also grateful to my fellow Guild Members for sewing and swapping. This little effort is due the first meeting in December, but I just finished it and wanted to share it now.

Melanie chose a birdie block for her turn as Queen Bee in Gridsterbee this month. Her signature block was my little Teeny Tree block–can’t wait to see what she makes of all these birds and trees. Free pattern for tree is here.

UPDATE: The Bee is filled! Thanks to those who joined us!

The Gridster Bee (#gridsterbee) is going through some changes next year. I’m stepping down from the head of the group, and we are looking for some new quilters who want to sew one block a month for your other bee-mates (check out the hashtag above for our wide-ranging style). We have several slots available; continental US only. We require you to have an Instagram Account and/or blog; those in charge will also vet you to make sure that all of us are at the same level of ability. So if you are a beginner who is just learning her stuff, this may not be the group for you.

But if you’ve happily been sewing for a minute or two and want to meet a few really cool women, as well as get a series of blocks made just for you when it’s your turn to be Queen Bee…leave me a comment below. I’ve been in over five bees, and they’ve all been great experiences. If you haven’t done a bee, consider it!

Occasionally I do clean up my computer desk. We got our Christmas present early this year (a nearly identical model to this one, but newer), so are passing this one on to our daughter.

November must have known we were anxiously waiting for it, for it came in with this beautiful sunset. We were fixing dinner (see below) and went out several times to admire the color and take photos.

Dinner: Sesame Salmon Bowl. I didn’t have the slaw they called for so we just sliced up another Persian cucumber. We had the leftovers the next night–so good!

The Cape Plumbago is flowering, with its rare blue flowers.

One advantage of covid days…

Please leave me a comment, or email me privately (e.eastmond@gmail.com), if you are interested in becoming part of a great group of women in our GridsterBee.

Happy Quilting!