Repeat/Augment

Repeat/Augment
Quilt #230
47 1/2″ square

For some reason this morning, the fog cleared, the brain snapped to, I thought: “You have got to finish something today!” And so I did.

A low-energy-COVIDistraction-day back in May got me started on the quilting, although the quilt top itself was begun back in August 2019, in another galaxy far away from our lives now.

Shots from my backyard, in nearly 100 degree heat. We are both wilting, the quilt and I.

Why is it called Repeat/Augment? Because you’ve seen this City Streets pattern once before, in this quilt.

I decided it was Very Serious, all that gridwork in the quilting.

So I went natural this time, in as many places as I could. And used Tula Pink fabric in really saturated tones with curvy-swervy designs. Yes, definitely more playful.

The label is coming, but here’s the mock-up.
Without the pink things sticking out everywhere.
(I was having fun with my Affinity Designer software.)

Our lives, now, unless you live in one of those places that is like the wild, wild west and has released you from Stay-At-Home. In our neck of the woods, it’s not yet, so it kind of freaks me out if I go outside and see people not wearing masks.

Hey, around here, even the quarters have them on!

Which reminds me, I need to cut out some more masks. My friend’s granddaughters are making holiday-themed masks (not shown here, but there are some fun types) and after the most recent news from Those Who Know, looks like the granddaughters were on to something. If you are keeping track, here’s my most recent favorite map, from Johns Hopkins. (I put it here so I can find it again.)

Last happy news is that my hair stylist has re-opened for the first time since March, so on Saturday I will get a real haircut. Not the kind where you set the mirror up on the barbeque, and try to cut your hair yourself. I am a little afraid of what he’s going to say when he sees the hatchet job that is living on top of my head. All I’ve got to say, it’s a good thing I’ve been in Stay-at-Home mode.

Happy Quilting!

Buzzing

Let me start with the easy stuff, the stuff that’s in my hands all the time: cloth, needle, thread, shapes, stitching.

While I’ve called this the #dungeonofcute on Instagram, I am happy that I finished it, and that it is really cute. I set up a place on my blog to corral all the handouts I made while working through this. I made a series of tip sheets that collect all the disparate information that Lori Holt presents on her blog, and hopefully will serve to help those who decide to jump in to Bee Happy. Borders are up next.

I started to wonder why this was so hard for me. There is the matter of all that stitching. By hand. It is also a quilt of medium tones and values, and while I do like those quilts, I tend to be more comfortable using stronger contrasts. And maybe I’m not as patient as I could be? And maybe because I felt like I was always buying her fabric, so everything could neatly “fit in together”? Sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and charming motifs and flowers and buzzing bees?

This week has provided us all with a way of looking at the side we don’t often see, the side that gets hidden behind a tidy facade. I’m a Pollyana from way back, and am always looking for the rainbows and the hearts and flowers. But there were more than a few things in the past few days to knock me around. It was that kind of week.

From this, the (mildest of) images, to the videos and pictures generated by another visitor to Lafayette Park, the news stories chronicling the fights and the hate and the soldiers and the protestors and the (unneeded) clashing.

This week, our Instagram feeds filled with these sorts of images:

House in my neighborhood

Then a couple of days ago, I was surprised to see this statue from Alexandria, Virginia in my southern California newspaper. I’d walked past this statue often when I lived there, and thought it a rather simple memorial.

The art critic calls it a “racist civic sculpture celebrating white supremecy.” Its location in Alexandria is right where the main street through town gives way to a bigger highway, shuffling the traffic over to bridges and it faces south, away from the town. It was, when I was there, a mostly ignored statue. Is it okay to admit to liking this simple memorial in an area full of memorials, a soldier contemplating his fallen comrades? But this week, given our new vantage point, and out of necessity, it came down. And as my historian sister says, a lot of ink has been spilled on this topic recently.

So, this week I sewed.

This week I listened and watched.

I spent time in my garden, catching a glimpse of a late-blooming peony. I read through news stories of the protests, stunned at more instances of thoughtlessness. I would step away from the television and computer every night then lay awake in the dark, wondering what kind of senseless world I was living in, when people were singled out for how they look. I had no answers, just a lot of tired mornings, when I would repeat the cycle again. I wanted to make it all happy, turn the cloth under, hide the fraying and the raw edges, but I was being asked to see it from another view, a richer, more nuanced, and painful view.

A flower for George

I wish I could wrap up this post in a tidy little package, give a neat turn, but this is not that kind of week. This is the kind of week where you wonder. This is the kind of week where you decide what you want your country to be. This is the kind of week that you pay attention to what’s on the other side of things, knowing that they can make all the difference.

9-Patches and Churn Dashes • First Monday

PinkyOrangeQuilt1

So what if you were trying to think of the basic blocks for beginning quilters?  What would you choose?  So far in our First Monday Sew-Day series, we’ve done four-patches and square-in-square and half-square triangles and flying geese and a few others (Log Cabin was last month), so I thought I’d take a look at another basic: nine-patch blocks. Above is a version of this block, colored a little differently than what we usually see.

June 2020 FirstMonday Sew-Day Illus

For the handout for the nine-patch/churn dash blocks, click to download a PDF file:

FirstMondaySewday_6_2020

Bee Happy Quilt_Feb_1

You think I might have caught that wonky churn dash.

I recently made some churn dash blocks for the #dungeonofcute quilt I’m making, and yes, I did fix the problem in the upper left.  For this beginning class handout, however, I chose to make the churn dash blocks more like nine-patches, rather than the adjusted proportions, seen above.

Aug2018_Gridsters

Here’s another variation of proportions: large corner squares, and smaller centers.

This is one of those Frivols quilts that I did in 2018, which frankly seems like it was about a century ago.  All churn dashes, cozied up to each other.

kucera_mcm

This quilt is the result of a bee; Linda asked us for small churn dashes, with skinny sides and big, fat centers, in these colors.  It’s a really fun way to work with churn dashes.

carla_mcmCarla Block Jan

While I’ve never done a large quilt with churn dashes, more bee-mates at the time asked for them, in two more different styles.  The blending of value and color in the bottom really makes it interesting.

MCM_Timberlake1

Here were my two blocks that I made for Carla T, and the finished quilt, with giant churn dashes interspersed in among the smaller ones.

Here’s a nine-patch “quilt” done by an artist I follow.  He works in paint.  He told me his mother was a quilter and I can see her influence.

Quilt Frolic_front

And here’s Quilt Frolic, a series of nine-patches, set in a an off-set white block, with tons of Amy Butler large-scale prints.

All our Handouts and topics can be found in the tab at the top of my blog: Projects for 2020/First Monday Sew-days.  More quilts can be seen below, in a gallery.

Happy sewing!

tiny-nine-patches

Baby Quilts Nine Patch

I’ve made a lot of baby quilts using nine-patch variations.

Mom Churn Dash

My mother helped make these nine-patch variation (shoo-fly) blocks nearly 85 years ago.

Amish Double Nine Patch

Mini Quilt: Amish double Nine-Patch

Nine Patch green

Carla Churn Dash

Carla’s quilt, from here

Some Thoughts on Our Nation’s Milestone

COVID-19 Map_ May 24_2020

For several months, I’ve awoken every morning, and looked at this map.  I remember when not every state had COVID-19, I remember when New York started spiking, I remember when we started our stay-at-home time some two months ago.

I was aware that we were coming closer to the milestone of 100,000 deaths during this pandemic, and I thought about all I’d read about the Spanish Flu when I was in graduate school and wrote a short story about a dancer and her young soldier who went off to war and never came home, felled by the influenza that ravaged the world in 1918.

But how would I choose to depict our losses in our pandemic?

Kentucky Death Quilt

from here

I’d seen death quilts, with little coffins neatly stitched, tucked away in their little graveyard or around the edges of quilt.  Or would I want to depict them as Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae did, in his poem Flanders Fields?In Flanders fields the poppies

 

But this past Sunday morning, I saw this:

COVID-19_NYTimes1

I read the article online, scrolling through the humanizing choice that this paper had made, to give a person’s name and a salient, interesting fact about them from their published obituary.

COVID-19_NYTimes2COVID-19_NYTimes3COVID-19_NYTimes4

At first it was just numbing, then I noticed this: a quilter.  I began to look for other quilters.

COVID-19_NYTimes5

I found several.

COVID-19_NYTimes6

And on one page, I found not only a quilter, but a “collector of people, laughter and good stories.”  It made me wonder: what one line would I want people to remember about me?  I found several intriguing qualities, and I reflected briefly on that person, especially the one who was “Faithful in corresponding through cards and handwritten notes.”  A woman after my own heart.

COVID-19_NYTimes7COVID-19_NYTimes8COVID-19_NYTimes9COVID-19_NYTimes9b

I loved Patricia Yanni’s quality: “Wasn’t afraid to try new things.”  So often we look to people’s achievements, that they were this important person, or grandmother to twenty-five, or CEO of a Big Corporation, but wouldn’t you rather be known as someone who wasn’t afraid to try new things?  I would.

COVID-19_NYTimes9c

I’d like to be known as someone who gets things done.

COVID-19_NYTimes10a

Someone who had a life-long passion for learning.

I circled the second one (in red) because now this was in my hometown, a hospital where I had gone for a surgery several years ago.  Rosa could have been someone who cleaned my room, made my bed.  I will think this week on all those lives that have been taken too soon.

COVID-19_NYTimes10b

COVID-19_NYTimes11

I will remember the quilters.

Sawtoothmania2

Sawtoothmania!

Framed Pattern Cover

Sometimes I get an idea, and it becomes like a dividing cell: one idea becomes into two, then four, and in this case, 23.  Sawtoothmania, the idea I am referring to, began about six months ago I started working on how to create a different sawtooth center.  First I made over 33 different designs, then whittled it down to 26, and then to 23 for this final pattern.

Bee Block Sawtoothmania Bette

I was aiming to have the pattern finished by the time I was Queen Bee in February for the Gridsters Bee, but I wasn’t.  I was far enough along though, to send them each some Painters Palette Solids: blue and white, plus a color to make up the center.  I also asked them to make an accompanying Tiny Envelope block (a free pattern on this blog) as their signature block, using a print that would coordinate with their block.

Sawtoothmania Process_0

This was the original set of colors, along with a little card I sent them so they could choose their block.

Then I kept making, kept testing, putting up blocks on Instagram as I finished them.  Today, the pattern is finished, and is up on my PayHip site, where you can purchase it if you’d like.  Many thanks to my BeeMates for testing these blocks, and for making me such a beautiful array of 12 blocks (I added four to the mix to get this arrangement):

Sawtoothmania Process_1

Then there was Border Angst.

I started with the solid blue border on the left, then tried the right, yes yes that’s the one. Then no no that’s not the one, how about I cut it up?  And then add squares?  And then go back to the solid blue?  And then sash them?  And then too many colors, take some out? And then go to bed, freaking out?

Sawtoothmania Process_front

I ended up here, and called it done.  I actually like it, although I include the plain fabric border option in the pattern, too, just in case you liked that one.  In the end, there were too many colors in the outside border, so I just used cool colors for the squares and smaller sashing to tone it down.  It’s not that noticeable, but it is significant.

Sawtoothmania Process_Gatesawtoothmania Small

I had several blocks I didn’t include, but that they were used as testers, so I made this smaller version, and this one will get the plain print border.

So, there you have it–my Sawtoothmania Pattern!  I had fun designing it and making it and if you decide to get one, I hope you’ll send me pictures of how you decided to make your Sawtoothmania.

I’m sure the length of time from inception to completion was complicated by the onslaught of Covid-19 news and all our living through it.  But since my last post, I’ve tried to get the rhythm of my days, which usually goes a couple of productive days alternating with what I call…

Lowenergy day_covid19

…”a low-energy” day.  Sometimes reading the news will trigger this, or frustration with various current events.  At least now I can predict it a little bit, and work with it.

City Streets Vivid_quilting

Trying to finish up the quilting of the second rendition of my City Streets pattern, this one done in fancy Tula fabrics.Gridsters May 2020

I was able to finish up Rachel’s Bee block for our Gridster Bee: a wagon wheel in the strongest contrasting colors we could use, with a black center.

Sneak Peek Metastructure

And I started and finished my Urban Challenge quilt for the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild.  But this is just a sneak peek, as the due date isn’t until May 25th, and won’t be announced until June 13th, at our Guild’s Zoom Meeting.  Since I run their blog, I have seen some of the entries that have come in, and I’m pretty excited about it all!

Zoom May 10_2020_3

I’ll leave you with this shot from our family Zoom meeting on Mother’s Day, when my son Matthew admitted that he hadn’t gotten a card out to me and shared his screen with us to show this.  It still makes me laugh.

So, between finishing up long-term projects, dodging around the emotions of Covid-19, and receiving Mother’s Day cards via Zoom, it looks like we are all figuring this out.

Happy Quilting!

Returned Samples

Samples Returned

I didn’t want to open the envelope when these teaching samples came back, even though I’d been expecting them.  The Guild Program Chair wrote me a lovely note telling me they’d never had to cancel a speaker before, and they were sorry.

I cried.

outer shell virus trojan horse

How do I write a blog post about what’s going on under the surface for those of us who love going out and teaching and meeting new groups (groups of 50+!) and hanging out with quilters and celebrating what they make in their classes?

When Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Modern Quilt Studio, in a newsletter, said that they’d canceled all classes and Guild visits until there is a vaccine, I knew that what I initially thought of a just-a-few-weeks experience was now going to be at least a year, if not two or three.

I think it’s been slowly dawning on most of us — as we stay carefully put, doing our “i-sew-lation” sewing, doing our best to be cheerful — that a creeping sadness is all around us.  It’s not only the horrific amount of deaths from Coivd-19 or the stories of those on the front lines in the hospitals or that we share memes incessantly, trying hard not to be sucked under. That creeping sadness some call grief (and that may be what it is), interrupts creativity, joy, connection, and a host of other daily living patterns.

Urge to create is gone cartoon

One morning’s walk this week, I dissolved in tears as my husband discussed all the formal steps we would have to take for possible retirement: forms to be signed, Zoom calls, separation from his job and mountains of research and careful planning. It wasn’t that we aren’t prepared or ready for this new shift in our lives.  I was just jealous that he had forms to be signed, Zoom calls and mountains of careful planning.

I cried because all of sudden, doing what I loved was gone, and for the foreseeable future–it would remain out of reach.  There were no forms to be signed.  Just a lonely envelope in the mail from a most kind fellow quilter.

So many tears for such a little crisis, I thought.  I immediately shifted into Counting the Blessings Mode, as that’s my usual.  I have a wonderful home to shelter in, a sufficiently stocked sewing room, a kind and loving husband who works hard to understand me, sufficient steady income, a large family of brothers and sisters and parents and children and grandchildren and a wide expanse of friends, both in person and digital.

But it’s just hard to retire when you weren’t expecting to, when you’d found what you really loved to do.  I don’t know how long it will be until I can greet quilting friends again in person.  No one knows. But we’ll all just keep going, keep trying to count our blessings, keep working to bridge that not-in-person gap that we all face.  Some days I do fine at this.

And other days an envelope makes me stop and have a good cry.

Happy Box.jpg

I’ll be in my Sewing Room — my particular version of a Happy Box — if you need me.

tiny nine patches

QuiltCon 2021.png

This came in my emailbox yesterday.  Given what I wrote about above, I’m not surprised.  I’m glad that the Modern Quilt Guild is being proactive on solving the problems that might exist in our new covid-centric world.

And as far as my teaching goes, I am in contact with my future quilt guild gigs, seeing what their plans are, if they will be holding events.  If you have questions, and have already booked with me, please get in contact to discuss.  Things change quickly.

tiny nine patches

The illlustration of the virus above is:

“A rendering of the outer shell of an adeno-associated virus with the exterior partially removed. The shell is used as a Trojan horse to deliver a genetic component of the coronavirus to raise an immune response. Credit: Eric Zinn and Luk H. Vandenberghe”

I thought the illustration beautiful.