Weary | Hopeful

Blog-writing for other organizations can sometimes make me weary. I’ve been the blog-writer for a local guild here, and the other day — Blog Writing Day, as I like to call it, when everything stops and I won’t do one more thing before writing out the news and stuff for the organizaion — I sat at the computer, my mind blank. I wrote the usual paragraphs, then wondered if I should delete some of it, as I am turning everything over to a new person in a month, and would she want to have to write this in her tenure? It all became very complicated, trying to write what’s in someone else’s head, in someone else’s world.

When I write for this blog, on the other hand, I try to find some space and some quiet — a recent challenge during covid-time and we’re all shut in our houses together.

The conditions of these two aforementioned things may explain why you haven’t see a post from me in some time. But here goes.

Part of the title of this post, weary, might describe us all at this time. We’ve been covid-ing since March (wearying), made it mostly through an election (wearying), our energy levels are low, and now we are all putting up our Christmas lights early, trying to bring in some light into this weary world of ours. Ours went up last Saturday, and since we celebrated Thanksgiving early — a social distanced, outside on our patio, meal with local family this past Sunday — all our Christmas decor is creeping in to the house, well before the end of Thanksgiving Day.

It feels right. We need something to celebrate, to rejoice in, and I am looking to the familiar warm-hearted feelings that the Christmas season can bring, and if that means early tinsel and lights and nutcrackers, bring it on. If that means putting out the Christmas quilts, and pillows and table runners, I’m in. Christmas tunes? Now on the playlist.

I was trying to think of ways to help lift the weary and wondered if you were interested in a quilty make to up the holiday cheer. If so, here are two possible ways:

This is a teeny little quilt (4″ x 6″) that can be slipped over a frame. These make cute gifts for friends, for shut-ins, for people you visit but who are still fretting about their gain of the Covid-fifteen-so-no-more-chocolates-please. Directions are found *here.*

This is my field of Christmas trees, made so long ago from *this free tutorial* and which needs to be finished. What always stops me in a project is that I get plans which then complicates everything to that something perfect in my mind, which then shifts me to never-getting-it-finished. Keep in mind that just participating in the act of creation (like our quilts and blocks –and even wooden blocks on barns), can help us feel better about life.

Example of Complicated (work in progress):

Second Iteration

Example of Uncomplicated:

Pumpkins quilt top, finished Tuesday night

Maybe December 2020 is the season for simple, for easy, for uncomplicated. Maybe it’s the time for bringing light, for sharing our lives, for writing holiday cards, letting people know we are still here. And next year, when we’re all vaccinated (my Christmas 2021 wish) and we’re out and about and full of vim and vigor and excitement, and even in spite of all the recovery work that will be around us, we’ll not be weary.

We’ll be hopeful.

from here

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Shining my way through this season

This is my reaction to the election fol-de-rol. Actually it’s my granddaughter Maddy’s, when she was just born (she’s soon to be 12 this year!). I’m totally patriotic (witness all my RWB blocks) and love the election itself–going to vote, feeling a unity among all Americans as we do our civic duty. It’s just the other stuff — the having to board up windows, the chants (count the vote! stop the count!), the lies, the attempts to cast doubt on the election, the lack of patience for the vote-counting — that gives me a chance to imitate Miss Maddy on a regular basis. By the time you read this, it may well be all over. Or not. Onward.

QuiltMania and I have been collaborating on releasing the Shine blocks, all newly refurbished. They usually do them on the first Friday of the month, which is upon us, so I try to time it and have a post. There’s a tab, above, for Shine, but to get the free patterns, you’ll need to subscribe to their newsletter. I have been remaking them in Red, White and Blue (told you I was patriotic!) to give them a fresh look.

Op #3, made by Susan Hilsenbeck

But before we get to that, I wanted to show you Susan Hilsenbeck‘s block. She chose a Shine block for her SAQA Auction Quilt for 2020, and titled Op#3. I love how she chose the colors, the fabrics, and that quilting is a WOW. Really fun. Her artist’s statement is below:

Now, onto the new blocks!

Shine Block #7, RWB
Original Shine #7 block

This one’s a little different looking than the original. I flipped it to swirl a different direction, and instead of making the points separate, I kept them attached to the swirl, so they were both all from the same fabric.

Original SHINE #8
Shine #8, Red, White and Blue

This RWB version challenged me, as there are many places to use color and it’s a bit challenging to use just three colors. I have since found more lines of fabrics that will work with my original set, so I have more choices now.

Original SHINE #9 block
SHINE, Block 9 in Red, White and Blue

I think I like the RWB version better than the original. Okay, here are the original nine blocks:

Original SHINE blocks, 1 through 9
RWB SHINE blocks, 1 through 9

So, if you’ve been following along, and are getting the QuiltMania newsletters, you’ll have Blocks 1-6. The next three should drop tomorrow. Here’s a link to where you can sign up for the newsletters in order to get your SHINE blocks. If you don’t have Blocks 1-6, I’ve been assured that if you write to them, they will send you the links for them.

I’ve written two other individual block patterns, one of which has been added as a bonus block to the Finishing Instructions (which includes that sashing you see peeking out of the middle block, above). The other is being field tested right now by my friend, Linda, who is making her Shine blocks into a Christmas quilt.

I’ve got a couple more in the works, to be added to the Final Four blocks pattern that is up on PayHip.

But first, I’m going to be a guest tonight at Acacia Quilt Guild in Buena Park, California. Our workshop is Triad Harmony, which will be held on Saturday, live-online style. The organizer asked me to pass on to any of you that there are some openings left, if you’re not busy Saturday and want to jump in. Just leave me a note on this post, and we’ll get you set up. So far, I don’t have this on my teaching schedule in the future, so it may be the last time I teach it for a while.

More pumpkins. Well, I actually have thirteen, but who’s counting now?

They are. I’m happy to wait.

Sweet November 2020 • This and That

Okay, I love giveaways but I hate choosing the winner. So many of you had the best Christmas wishes, from fabrics to new sewing rooms, to visiting your left kidney (thank you Allison in Alabama), to the all-time favorite: visiting with family and friends with Covid no where to be seen. But I decided to play it straight, enlisting Google’s random number generator:

I don’t want to argue with you whether or not I should have put a one there. I always feel sorry for whoever is #1, because Random Number Generators never choose them (and I’m always that person, just so you know).

I won’t bore you with how I figured out who should win between the IG and the blog commenters (some of you figured out you could do it in both places–good for you), but there is a paper with calculations for proof: the winner is Susan, of Patchwork N Play in Australia. Congratulations!

Thank you to all who wrote and who made my day with your comments. I would have to say my Christmas wish would be seeing family again, so many of you really touched my heart. My husband wanted me to choose Allison of Alabama, but because it was too hard to choose, I had to do the number generator.

Please don’t hesitate to get yourself the book on pre-sale, if you really want one. You will use it a ton. I remember being somewhere when Barbara Brackman was speaking, some years after the publication of the book I have. She said she’d give up an awful lot to have a case of those early books in her closet, but they went out of print really quickly and if you wanted one, you could get it on Amazon:

Only 80 bucks for a used one, and over $200 for a new one.

In other news, I finished my bee block for Lisa, and sent that off. And before I turned my sewing room upside down and dumped it into boxes, I also made November’s block for Allison:

I love the first one of November’s with the use of ombré fabrics, which — as you know — has been on my mind lately. I usually link you over to our #gridsterbee home on Instagram at this point, but apparently they’ve removed all “recent” tags from Instagram because of the election in two days. I don’t understand how the bots thought that quilt blocks from one to four years ago were “recent” but I do hope they come back. We have lots of good blocks we’ve made! Chalk it up to another 2020 weirdness.

I started the Pumpkin-a-Day Challenge with Carol G, and so far have been able to make one per day. Sometimes I was finishing it late at night while I watched Judy Woodruff on the PBS Newshour, a comforting end to our anxious news days. Carol has done machine appliqué but on that first one I was too tired to figure it out, so have been doing hand stitching.

I’m using the older Voysey line from Moda fabrics, a line that uses designs from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collections. You can still find some of on ETSY, if you are looking.

I’d been saving it to use for this project, and when Carol saw my photo of the packed bathroom (we put a lot of sewing room stuff in there), she circled my pattern in red so I could find it again. It’s by Laundry Basket Quilts, if you want to jump in.

This Apple Galette was our Halloween treat.

Since I’m finally unpacked and most of the house is put away after our home renovation project, I am feeling like myself again. We still need to find shelves to put in that closet, or build some, but for now, they’ll rest there, and not in our bathtub.

Thank you again for all your entries. I want to have you all to lunch when we get back to normal. Please say you’ll come!

Happy Quilting!

Giveaway! Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns

The new edition of this classic — which every quilter should have on their desk — is a quilter’s dream come true.  It has clean illustrations of the blocks, as well as a depiction of the same blocks in full color.  I reach for my original version almost daily as I try to puzzle out a block, or dream up new combinations in making my quilts.  While I didn’t think Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns could be improved, I was wrong. This new version will make it easier to find interesting blocks to make, to research the history of our work, as well as to link us to our rich heritage of quilting. 

That blurb at the top is what I wrote for Electric Quilt, the publishers, when they contacted me earlier this fall. As long-time readers know, I’m an enthusiatic user of this book (my edition was published in 1993). When I need an idea for a baby quilt, I turn to the Nine-Patch section. When I am creating quilts for my classes, I peruse the more complicated sections, as well as the traditional Four-Patch. She has Wheels! She has Fans! She has uneven Nine-Patches! And the best part is that now it comes in color, AND in black and white, as you can see by the sample illustrations. That way the coloring can be suggested, or you can go hog-wild, coloring up your own blocks.

But the absolute best part (if there can be only one best part) is that now we can connect our blocks to those of those early quilters. We can identify them, linking all of us together with those women who drew their blocks out on paper, working their quilting in among their gardening, their laundry, the raising of their families, their teaching, their mending. Now you can use Barbara Brackman’s careful research to make your quilts, coupled with the updated and colorful version of this book. I am so excited!!

Here’s my True Story: while the bulk of my blocks in SHINE: The Circles Quilt come from a church in Slovenia, when I was just getting started on this idea, I turned to my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and found Feathered Star, block #3389. I made it, and when I visited that church, I was able to show the guard in the kiosk a photo of this block — “my art” is what I said — and he gave me permission to take more photos of the glorious art in that Serbian Orthodox Church. That quilt, which is still cooking along, had its genesis from this book, a block from around 1933, according to Brackman’s notes on its provenance. And one of you can win this book. Keep reading.

  • Electric Quilt, the publisher, is currently offering 30% off the book if customers “pre-order” it on their website by November 24 . I’m just telling you this, so that in case you are not the lucky winner, you can still have the opportunity to take advantage of the 30% pre-order discount. Details here:  https://electricquilt.com/pre-order-and-save/
  • EQ expects to start shipping the book December 1, 2020. Perfect for holiday giving. (And yes, I plan to have a Christmas holiday this year, and although more kilos may join the Covid kilos, it will still be worth it.)
  • If you want any other information about the book, they have general info at their website, such as FAQs, a blog post, and reviews (maybe you’ll see mine there?) Click to head there: https://electricquilt.com/online-shop/encyclopedia-of-pieced-quilt-patterns/

Here’s the official details:

  • Enter to win a copy here, or pre-order the book through November 24th at ElectricQuilt.com.
  • Giveaway winner will receive one copy of the book shipped in December, 2020.
  • The Electric Quilt Company will ship to U.S. addresses for free, others will have the option to pay for shipping costs, so yes, international readers you can enter (but you’ll just have to pay for shipping–they will contact you).
  • The book will be shipped directly from Electric Quilt. I’ll forward them your info after contacting the winner by email.
  • You can also enter on my Instagram Account @occasionalpiecequilt It’s a slightly different set of guidelines; pay attention, so you’ll be in the running.

Okay, gushing over! Get ready, get set, go! I’ll choose the winner on All Saints Day (November 1st) because I know you’ll be too busy on Halloween to pay attention.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!

Leave me a comment below telling me what you want for Christmas. Get creative, get close to the heart, get wild, or shoot for the stars.

Triad Harmony Workshop

A song from my childhood always pops into my head when I start my Zoom classes, bright and early, on Saturday morning. It’s something about “bright, smiling faces” that are “all in their places,” and when you see that class portrait where I cue them all to look at the camera and smile, it certainly resonates. (I like to do a class portrait, giving the students time to compose themselves, so as to avoid that strange deer-in-the-headlights-slightly-tipsy portrait that can happen when we try to freeze a video feed with a snapshot.)

The portrait above is the Coastal Quilters from Santa Barbara, one of those Guild engagements that morphed from in-person to Zoom. Again, I have to say I’m really loving teaching this way, with everyone in their own spaces with their own equipment and fabrics. (Do we have to go back to the other way?) I did teach one Zoom class once where they all gathered in the back room of a quilt shop, masks in place, but there wasn’t the interaction; I really missed the individual conversations that the traditional Zoom set-up allows.

And this is what a busy workshop looks like in reality. Everyone is on task (since I took this unannounced, I have blurred out any faces), working hard at creating their own versions of Triad Harmony. This is later in the afternoon and they had all made incredible progress.

Something I do — which I think is unusual — is a Follow-up Workshop Session, one week later. It’s one of the best parts of the class, in my opinion.

In this Follow-Up class, the students send me photos of their quilts the day before, and I put them up into a slide show. This is my view from my computer, and we all engage in discussing the quilts, the fabric choices, successes, and challenges. It’s a lovely time to hear from the quilt makers, the quilters involved at a granular level in creating these masterpieces. It’s not often that we get to talk like this, and it’s a treasured time.

I wish I could have had you all there. More than once, someone said, I was scared to work with this precision, but it went together really well. Or they’d say, they had a stack of triangles cut and changed out. At that point, several people picked up their stacks and flashed them at the camera. A couple of people had theirs already quilted, some were still finishing up borders, and one quilter had printed off onto paper an image of the fabric she was missing in order to show us how it should look. All in all, the follow-up class motivated them to work hard, and finish up as much as they could.

Enjoy the show!

Karen B.
Sue B.
Margaret D.
Heather G.
Marcia G.
Gail B.
Ranell H.
Carole K.
Sue K.
(The black is for display only.)
Susan K.
Tami K.
Barbara M.
Polly M.
Sue O.
Karen P.
detail, Karen P: dimensional wedges
Bee S. (with bee fabrics!)

I try to give something a little extra to each class, and for this class I included four different videos they could watch, with different tips and instructions for making the quilt, as well as a line drawing for use in coloring in preferences.

I also included pattern pieces that would make a larger size, shown here for comparison. I’ve updated the pattern in my PayHip shop, and the pattern now includes the larger size. The fabric line I chose for the larger size is Geo Stones, by Riley Blake.

Thank you all, Coastal Quilters, for a lovely experience!

Spectral Light

My husband is a photographer who specializes in small landscapes: detailed shots of flowers that he finds around our neighborhood. Since we live in a climate that is temperate, we have plants from Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and even Madagascar, and he finds and captures them all in their exquisite tiny details. The plant above is called Mother of Millions.

But sometimes when you step back, the plant just isn’t quite so lovely. And so it is with quilts.

I had challenged myself to make a larger version of Triad Harmony, which — when it’s figured out — will be added into the first pattern. I had spent hours drafting patterns, printing them out, perfecting them, and finally it was time to try it in cloth.

Fail.

I really thought it was a loser. I had great fabric, Gem Stones by Riley Blake (shown on this post). I thought, well…every quilt starts out as spindly Mother of Millions plant, with their virtues disguised in the making. I wondered if this smaller quilt just couldn’t scale up to the larger version. So I stepped away for a day, a bit grumpy about the whole thing. But I just needed to look at the details.

And the details came down — as so often it does — to contrast. The second tier of triad blocks needed contrast from the outer heavens in which this star lives. I needed to change out some pieces, but now I think it’s on track. I will soon get the borders on, then take it off my design wall to quilt it. The moral of the story? Keep working, make changes and soon the quilt will show itself.

In other news, I had a wonderful class last Saturday with the Coastal Quilters from Santa Barbara, a Zoom class of 19 students. We have our follow-up session this coming Saturday, and their quilt pictures have been coming in. I am most excited about this–this follow-up session is such a wonderful time where we talk about quilts. That write-up is coming soon, as is a giveaway for the new Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. So stay tuned!

colorful image from here

About the name: I had originally wanted to name this quilt Spectra, as that is plural for spectrum, or an array of light. But when I found out that it is the brand name for a breast milk pump (?!?), I quickly changed my mind. I read that car manufacturers go through this on a large scale, as not only do they have to check English, but the car’s name in many other languages as well.

And now, a little light reading:

from here

Happy Quilting!

P.S. Did you notice I changed this triad piece, too? I subbed out the lightest piece for a really dark one — you know, more contrasting — and then I rotated it to put that darkest piece at the lower edge.