Frivols 8 • August 2018

 

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September’s box is Frivols #8 and is a tin from American Jane, with a whole host of fancy and fun prints.  The Moda blog notes that:

“There is a correction to the pattern – Background, Sashing, and Borders.  The first line should say 3 – 5 1/2″ x width of fabric strips.  From the strips, cut 18 – 5 1/2″ squares.”

Duly noted. I’ll figure it out when I get there.

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Here’s the layout of prints from their blog–colorful and charming. And I was happy to see that there are fewer half-square triangles in Sandy Klop’s quilt design.

The freebie for this Frivol is a sweet little tin with this month’s quilt design, that is just about the size of a charm square, perched up there by the bigger tin.  I also love the quote on this month’s card: “Be yourself.  Everyone else is already taken.”  While it is attributed to Oscar Wilde, this attribution — as in so many other quote attributions — is a little squishy.  For more discussion on this, visit the Quote Investigator.  In fact, if you read this article, it seems like Wilde was a bit more pessimistic about this whole idea of authenticity:

It is tragic how few people ever “possess their souls” before they die. “Nothing is more rare in any man,” says Emerson, “than an act of his own.” It is quite true. Most people are other people. Their thoughts are some one else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. (c. 1900)

I happen to like the Thomas Merton version:

“In an age where there is much talk about “being yourself” I reserve to myself the right to forget about being myself, since in any case there is very little chance of my being anybody else. Rather it seems to me that when one is too intent on “being himself” he runs the risk of impersonating a shadow.” (c. 1967)

I have to say my favorite instance of this idea is from Gordon B. Hinckley, an earlier president of my church.  He writes about discouragement when he was called on a church mission at age nineteen, feeling like he could never do what was required of him:

I wrote a letter to my father and said, “I’m wasting my time and your money. I don’t see any point in my staying here.” And in due time a letter came back from him in which he simply said: “Dear Gordon. I have your letter of [such and such a date]. I have only one suggestion: Forget yourself and go to work. With love, your father.” [from here]

So often we can focus too much on ourselves, and how we feel from moment to moment. While this aesthetic — to “forget yourself and get to work” — seems to hail from another era, I like to think about it sometimes, when I often can’t find the energy to finish up the chore, to get the work done, to complete the task.  I felt that way with Frivols #7, as you probably know.  And somedays I have to ask myself: “What do I want to have done by the end of this day?”

Perhaps all this seems so far from the supposed Wilde quote of “being yourself,” but for me they are linked.  Perhaps the work is me, the getting done is the shaping of who I am.  And hopefully, in forgetting myself and getting to work, I will become my best self.

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Onward!

 

Bread with Every Meal (Frivols #7)

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Bread with every meal • Quilt #207 • 24″ square

Ta-DONE!!!

With great relief and happiness, I present to you: Bread with every meal.

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The title comes from the back of this quilt, a tea towel my sister gave to me when she was doing the Great Purge and downsizing her life. Frivols 7_31a

And in that grouping of statistics about what was eaten, was this phrase, “Bread with Every Meal.”  Weird to take this for a title, I know.  I don’t usually like to be that obtuse in the naming of my quilts.

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But it reminded me of the dailiness of quilting, for me.  That nearly every day I am at a small feast at my “table” — my sewing room — partaking of the goodness of cloth and patches and stitching. It makes me happy, and so it’s not a far leap to think of this as my daily bread.

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Even when I intensely dislike what I’m doing.

Yes, making this quilt was one moan after another, working on it, wadding it in the corner, avoiding it.  These are not my kind of fabrics, and making teensy 1-1/2″ half-square triangles is not my favorite thing to do.  But I adore the designer (Lisa Bongean) and so I was determined to be a Brave Girl and finish up this quilt.

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It won’t win any awards for piecing, or for that matter, quilting, but it will win prizes for being DONE.  So now I can post this:

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That’s 7!

Yep, seven down and five to go.

In other happy news, we had Camp Create last weekend.  For years a group of us had gotten together regularly, the first Friday of every month for the Good Heart Quilters.  It came time to end that monthly gig (no short story on this tale, so I’ll skip the telling), so we went out with a bang, with Camp Create.

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I put up a bunch of photos on Instagram, but for the historial (hysterial?) record, I’ll post them again here on the blog.

 

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Amy, in the green shirt, above, teaches classes on handmade books at the local art museum, and came to teach us the Coptic Stitch and how to make a book from scratch.  I could go on and on about her, but she is waaaay talented, as are all the ladies above.  She anchored the first half of Camp Create, held in Leisa’s (air-conditioned) garage.

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Claire bundled up her wee daughter, Jane, as she worked on her book next to Leisa.

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All our books.  One of my favorite lines of the day was when one of us hadn’t finished up our binding and laid it down with the rest.  Amy carefully tucked the threads underneath saying, “We can hide our secrets.”  Yes, indeed.  Mine is the green one with the butterfly (click the link for the video).  Amy had the best papers from which we could choose.

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Then we had lunch and switched gears to screen printing.  Both Simone and I had taken Karen Lewis’ class at QuiltCon, and Julie was also experienced at this technique, so we taught the technique to these fine crafters.

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For those of you wondering where to get the screen printing cloth, I found this “utility fabric” at JoAnn Fabrics, and it seemed to work great.  It’s not 100% cotton, but I did all my printing with this and I’m happy with it.

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Amy was experienced in screen printing, and knew to wear gloves.

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Claire’s cupcakes

Hexie Flowers July 2018

In other news, I’m making progress on my Hexie Flower quilt, a design by Sherri McConnell.  (More info on her blog.)

And here’s my contribution to Hexie Lore: punch a hole in your paper.  You can anchor your hexie with a straight pin while you stitch (so the fabric doesn’t move around), and at the end, insert the tip of your scissors into the hole and pop it out.  I use the basting method where you don’t take out your stitches, and I use a hexie template to cut out the fabrics.

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Lastly, we had some visitors.  I set up the grandchildrens’ beds downstairs in the dining room, and Maddy’s bed was taken over by their dog, Cookie.  Really, it’s more like their younger sibling, Cookie.

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A summer treat: frozen yogurt.  We miss you already–come again!!

 

Practice Makes Perfect • Frivols #6

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Practice Makes Perfect
Quilt #204  • June 2018
26″ by 31.5″

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The requisite shot of the X-ed out Frivols tins show that I’m now halfway done with my goal.  I try not to set goals, as they just give me angst, but there’s just this lingering expectation: finish all the Frivols.

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I call this Practice Makes Perfect, as I’ve been thinking about the nature of work, and how much of it is repetitive, boring even, but repetition appears to be a necessary step on the way to mastery.  I think I can handle churn dashes, but it was learning the finer points of free-motion quilting loops that needed my attention.  Frivols6_PracticeMakesPerfect3

The freebie for tin #6 was this strawberry label with barely any room for a person with two long names.  It would have been better if my name were Dot Smith or something.Frivols6_PracticeMakesPerfect1Mothers Luncheon

I had started on this quilt at the end of May, after a long month of travel and serving and caring for people in my life, culminating with an intimate luncheon celebrating my mother’s 90th birthday in Ogden, Utah.  We rented a small conference room at a local hotel, and had the hotel cater the meal.

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We’d done this two years earlier for my father’s birthday, and had only my brother and sisters and parents there, with no spouses or great-grandchildren.  We were worried then (I was wondering) if if it would work without the supporting members, but we did fine two years ago, and again this year too.  The feelings expressed to my mother were tender, kind, showing her (and my father’s) careful influence in our lives.  Because of them there are amazing individuals in my family: strong men and women, who are good men and women, too.

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Some of you know that I’d been up in Utah earlier that month caring for my sister for a week; it was good to see how much progress she’d made in getting around with her crutches and wheelchair.  From L to R, around the table: Mom, Dad, Susan (child #3), Scott (#6), David (#5), Cynthia (in gold jacket, child #2), Christine (#1), and Andy (#7).  I’m child #4, yes, that infamous “middle child.”

Mothers Olive Oil

I had little bottles of specialty olive oil etched with the saying “Olive you forever” and “Happy 90th Barbara” (my mother’s name).

We drove home and two days later I quilted this, finishing  it the next day.  I was still putting away what I’d gathered on my trip, but needed a break, and Practice Makes Perfect was the tonic for what ailed me.

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John Piper wrote: “Work is a glorious thing. And if you stop and think about it, the most enjoyable kinds of leisure are a kind of work. Both these facts are true because the essence of work, as God designed it before the Fall, was creativity — not aimless, random doing, but creative, productive doing….
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“If you are starting to grow lazy, I summon you back to joy. God made us to work. He formed our minds to think and our hands to make. He gave us strength—little or great—to be about the business of altering the way things are.

“That is what work is: seeing the world, thinking of how it could be better, and doing something—from the writing of a note to the building of a boat; from the sewing of what you wear to the praying of a prayer.
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“Come, leave off sloth and idleness. Become what you were made to be. Work.”

excerpted quote found on @TheSmallSeed

Frivols Tin 6 (and a few words about Value)

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It’s the first of June, so you know what that means.

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Cuteness, so cute, darling, adorbs, charming, majorly adorable.

Yep, that’s why I bought these things.  So by now you have figured out it’s time to sew up another Frivols, and now we are on Frivols Tin 6, which you can find on the Moda blog.  Here is the errata for this box:

Note:  After learning that a handful of customers had received rolls of pre-cut squares that were a bit scant, we decided to re-work the cutting to make the pieces a bit smaller and allow a little leeway.  The artwork and text for the tin had already been sent for manufacturing so it could not be changed.  However, the pattern has the correct sizes and instructions, and we apologize for the discrepancy.  It just needed to be done.

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After opening, I’m thinking: Still pretty cute, yes yes yes.

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I unrolled and pressed the squares.  Um.

(silence) Oh, please.  (rolls eyes)

Not another one of these pastel boxes! she moans to no one in particular.  Even my husband said “Another one?”

Frivols 1-5Here’s my Happy Barometer in working with my Frivols Tins so far:
Frivols #1  <happy> for it was a gift for a friend’s baby.
Frivols #2  <happy>
Frivols #3  <happy>
Frivols #4  <meh>  It was a test of will, but I’m keeping it around for gifiting to future babies.
Frivols #5  <not bad> once I got going
Frivols #6.  <——-extreme dismay——>  I know all the Bonnie and Camille fans out there are like, “Send it to me!!” but really, a deal with myself is a deal.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t change it up some.

The finished quilt measures 45″ x 54″ supposedly, but I don’t know if that is the before measurement, or the one they took after their changes.  I also took a look at the outside of the tin requirements, which is code for BUY MORE FABRIC, but since that fabric — Strawberry Fields Revisited — is long gone, given the current habit of our manufacturers of deluging us with fabric lines until we are overwhelmed, then taking them off the shelves forever.  (A personal pet peeve of mine.)

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And given the fact that one of my 7″ by 7″ squares was cut off at the knees, and another one skewed and shredded by the cutter, it’s time to hit my own stash and pull out some colors/shapes/fabrics that will coordinate.Frivols6_5

That piece in the upper left by 3 Sisters ought to be just fine with this group of toned florals and geometrics.  And given that I’m already flummoxed by the cutting instructions, we are definitely changing up this puppy.  And because I needed a project to do after Annularity’s completion, I charged on ahead (still moaning about these mushy-valued pastels).

Each Frivol has 7″ squares.  Even though they warned me not to trim off any bumps, after doing one as a trial, I found I could trim off the sides without any great disaster, then proceed to cut them as they asked.

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And by that night, I had One Grecian Urn.  Kidding.  I had one churn dash (you have to have seen the movie The Music Man to know the inside joke about Grecian Urns).

A Word About Value in Quilts.

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We need some.

Value is how light something is or how dark something is.  Quilts without value shifts tend to be mushy-looking, and sort of blah.  It’s the mushy ones we walk right by at quilt shows.  I see a lot of these, and have even made some myself (see Frivols #1 and #4).  But it is value that moves your eye around a quilt, makes it interesting to look at, gives it depth.  When I worked in the photo lab at University of California, the photography professor preached the same gospel: you need black as midnight and white as snow in the black and white photographs.  OF COURSE there are exceptions, but we are not always making exception-quilts.

Note the two flowers above.  Which one is more interesting?  Which one grabs your eye, pulls it around, as you notice things?  Of course you said the one of the right, a calla lilly by Robert Maplethorpe (the other one I greyed out to have only medium tones).

Same with our quilts.  So what can I do with a box full of medium to medium-light fabrics?  Smash them up against each other:

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Now that medium brown in the upper right corner can function effectively as a “dark.”  It’s still not wonderful, but I do think it’s better than the one they wanted me to do:

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Kidding.  Here’s theirs:

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I could tell from their description I was in trouble: Sun-washed.  It is a lovely little quilt, perfect for babies, and other people who don’t like contrast in their quilts, I guess.  But this is my blog and you are subjected to my bias, and I trend towards quilts with good light-to-dark values.

I also believe if you are going to sell me a tin of fabrics, I should be able to make a quilt with what’s in the tin.  (Right.)

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It needs some kind of borders, so I was going for the look of Frivol #2, but this is a Major Fail.  It has that baked potato problem.  So I ripped off the borders and pulled out nearly every fabric I had in my stash to find one that I though perked up this baby.

 

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A lovely tomatoey color of red with white dots will do nicely. I’m happy with it. Now I’ll get it quilted and bound and will show you the end product, at some later date.

What I learned from this tin of Frivols:

  • Don’t let your quilts be mushy.
  • Move beyond one manufacturer’s grouping of fabrics to avoid having your quilt be only a medium value quilt.
  • And some advice as well from my photography professor, given to us on the last day of class: keep your camera dry.

 

Child’s Play • Frivols 5

I am continuing with my determined goal to make all my Frivols tins this year.

Because this one was quite small, finishing up at 29″ by 32″ (different than what was measured on the tin), I finished it early, so I get to put an X on the circle of Frivols.

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Child’s Play • Quilt #202 • Frivols Quilt #5

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As mentioned in the last post, the fabric is by French General, and while it looked really dark in the tin, with the black and white four-patches added, it is fairly lively.  It reminded me of an extended game of checkers, and since the quilt is small, like a doll’s quilt, I titled it Child’s Play.

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I quilted it with a stylized flower.

ChildsPlay_Frivols5_4Every doll’s quilt needs some dolls, and I just happened to have my mother’s play tea set from when she was a little girl.  She’s celebrating her ninth decade this month, and because she’s turning ninety, she’s always saying things to me like “You’re not old.”

She’s right.  I’m not yet up to her age, but I am one lucky girl to still have a mom here to talk to when I need a cheering up.

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Because I’ve been thinking about my mother today, the chair above is an antique from “the farmhouse,” a place where my grandmother (my mother’s mother) moved when she married grandpa, a widower with a passel of children, and adopted — and adapted herself to — a life as a farm wife.  And then she had three more children, my mother being one of them.

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Mom, at age 12, holding her birthday cake

A photo of my mother when she was in college. My daughter, who is named for my mother, is with her on the left.  And below is a photo of my mother’s Magnum Opus, a quilt with cross-stitched designs, all hand done while we lived in Peru for two years.

Mom and her quilt

Since it is also Mother’s Day here in the United States, I hope you treasured some memories of your mother, and if she is still here — I hope you called her or visited her.

It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized that my mother (and father) gave me the greatest gift of all: a young life where I could pretend, and get dirty and dress up and have imaginary tea parties and fight with my younger brothers, and go to church, and roam the neighborhood, time to read books, and to hope to be like my older sisters.  While soon enough I would discover that there were real sticks and stones out there, she gave me a life sheltered from the world’s harsh realities.

She gave me Child’s Play, every day.

Happy Birthday, Mom, and Happy Mother’s Day!

tiny nine patches

Quilting as Part of Our Life Story

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Happy Almost May with Frivol #5!

I’m beginning this post by talking about my ongoing goal to make up all the Mode Frivols tins.  I had signed up when they first came out (as I am a total fangirl for Carrie Nelson) and every month one would arrive, and I’d stack them up neatly.

As I mentioned before, it’s been a good experience to try something new, to work with fabrics that weren’t generally found on my shelves, and Frivol Tin #5 is just that sort, as its filled with French General.  I’ve used French General before, but it was lighter and airier, when I made a quilt for my sister:

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After receiving the quilt, she repainted her room to match.  Now if that’s not undying love from a sister, I don’t know what is.

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But this tin is a bit darker, filled with lusciously colored deep reds, for the tin was originally placed in the shops in December, a month when we typically sew with those kinds of colors.

First up, this note from Moda:

You can find more about this tin on their blog (including how they turned it into a tin for hand sewing supplies), but for me, I’m dying to open it:

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The fabrics in this tin are from French General, which makes me happy, as I love their fabrics.  And their store.

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It will be a table topper, or even a doll quilt as it’s even tinier that what is printed on the tin (see note, above).  However, that means it will sew up quickly.

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As I mentioned in last month’s overview, there is always a treat in a tin, and this time it is a beautiful woven ribbon in red and white.Frivols 5_3

Continuing on, I also received news in my Yahoo mailbox about new ownership of that enterprise, including Flickr.  So went over to Flickr to see what I would lose if I just ignored that whole thing forever.  The newest activity in any Flickr group was over a year ago.  Most activity was much older than that, which told me that a lot of other quilty peeps have abandoned that site.

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My masthead, but I think that “Joined 2009” thing is when I opened a yahoo email account.

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Here’s my first set of photos on the site: March 2012, with my EPP quilt Kaleidoscope.

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And my last set, in uploading photos for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, which ended that year.

I used to belong to seven groups, most of them Bees, had several Galleries.  I got rid of the Galleries, and unjoined all groups that weren’t a bee I had participated in.

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I was hunting for this gem (4 blocks, shown together–this one is not mine): a wild and crazy star block.  The links to the original pattern are all gone now–funny how quickly that happened, but here’s my PDF for it, if you want to download one for yourself.  I tried to track down the original owner and have not been successful; I would hate for this pattern (which was a free download) would get lost to the quiltiverse forever, hence my posting it here for your download: Starry Sky by Kylie Kelsheimer

UPDATE: Dot wrote me a note with the following info:  

“The Starry Sky pattern is still out there on Kylie’s Dropbox account. I did some searching around with Google and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and found an archived copy of Kylie’s website, with a link to her Dropbox page. To get the pattern, you need to have (or create) your own free Dropbox account, and log in to your account. Then you can paste this link into your browser, and download the file!

Here’s the Wayback Machine link to her old website:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170507123558/http://aperseveringmom.com/starry-sky-block-get-the-pattern-here/

Thank you, Dot!

2015 MCM Sept

This one was mine.

So I guess I’m saying that it feels weird to have the history of the quilt world on the internet go missing after such a short time, and it feels equally weird to be erasing some of my own history as well.

It reminds me of some of the things I read in The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter (really, it’s a great little book by Margareta Magnusson): “If someone has lived in a home for many years where children, grown-ups, relatives, and guests have stayed and felt welcome, that same someone is often so busy that they never think of reducing the number of things in the household. And so the number of possessions grows and collects quickly over the years. Suddenly the situation is out of control and the weight of all those things can begin to seem tiring.”

My home and my digital media sites and my blog and Flickr are all like guests that have stayed and felt welcome, I guess.  Unlike the woman in the Swedish Death Cleaning book, not only will we have garages and drawers and closets full that we’ll need to deal with, we’ll also have digital universes that need clearing out, too.  That thought ought to cheer you up, right?

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Which leads me, finally, to this a wonderful video about Ken Burns, the historian and documentarian, who sent a lot of his quilts to be exhibited in Nebraska at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.  If you want to see them, they will only be on exhibit for a couple of more weeks, but the museum does have a good gallery of the quilts online, from which I excerpt these:

Ken Burns Flag w Crosses.pngMy favorite is the American Flag, with all the crosses surrounding it.  So many terrific quilts, and thankfully, someone, some where, did not clean them out and throw them away.  Someone did not think they were household junk to part with.  Thank you, Mr. Burns, for sharing your wonderful collection and thoughts:

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“Ann Lee, who founded the Shakers, said ‘Do all your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as you would if you knew you would die tomorrow.’  The things we leave behind — our children, our land, the environment, but also these made things, the art — will commend us to posterity.”  ~Ken Burns