“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:
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.
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!
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–
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.
Gardens can be mysterious. In our case we planted the melons and the round cucumbers and some nocturnal visitor came and dug it all up. Will those seeds pop up somewhere else? Were they get eaten? What’s in the heart can also be mysterious, even to those who might have some experience in the matter. Are we charitable? Are we passionate? Are we kind, snarky, tough or tender?
But in the case of the QAL for Heart’s Garden, the mystery is now solved!
This is the final free pattern for the 2022 Mystery Quilt-A-Long. I will have a Part 6 that will show some embellishments, but that will be a post, and not a pattern release. Heart’s Garden Part 5 will remain free until early June when all the patterns will be combined into one that can be purchased. So make sure you download Part 5 quickly.
I’m sure you’ve seen these images of Part Four on Instagram. Joan’s quilt is a brilliant range of hues from yellows to pinky purples. Lisa has used a wonderful selection of blues, pinky reds and tans to great effect. Linda’s quilt took a different turn when she used the borders from my Evergreen, Ever Life quilt, amending them to fit the center, and Susan (on Instagram or at her blog) has also made changes, using five flowers on two sides. I love them all! [As I receive updated photos, I will post them.]
Heart’s Garden finishes up with a row of heart blocks, like a happy picket fence around our garden. Generally I used medium-dark fabrics with a scrappy low-volume background. All fabrics are by Sherri and Chelsi, from their Sincerely Yours line. I love the brightly colored prints from peach to purple and think this makes a really happy quilt. Sherri is a friend of mine (we both taught English Composition classes) and I think this quilt would also be great in her newest line, Seashore. One reason I love showing all the quilts at the beginning of the post is for you to think of different colorways for your quilt than the one on the front of the pattern.
And speaking of the front of the pattern, Part Five is ready for a free download at my PayHip shop. (Reminder: In case you didn’t get any of the other parts, they are there for sale as well.) But, again, in early June all the parts will disappear to be replaced with a complete Heart’s Garden Sew-A-Long pattern for sale. Now let’s talk construction.
I started with the corners, making a Log Cabin block with darker outside corners. Then I discarded this block and made the ones you see in the quilt. That’s why I have a full box of orphan blocks!
I like to sew Log Cabin blocks from measurements, but in case you like paper piecing, that option exists for you as well in this pattern. In fact, I made up FPP options for all parts of this border: the log cabin corners, the heart block bottoms and heart block tops.
I ended up using the paper piecing for the heart block tops and was happy I did.
There is a slightly different proportion on these hearts than usual, as I wanted a certain look for the border. I cut out backgrounds and tips and triangles. Detailed instructions for how to do this accurately and carefully are in the pattern. (Tips to make wonky hearts are also there.)
I smoothed out the center onto my design wall, then as I made hearts, I arranged them around the quilt.
There’s always this moment that you wonder: was this quilt worth it? I had only seen it inside, in my room and a lot of time I was sewing at night during winter.
But when I took it outside and saw the natural light hitting all those fun hearts and flowers and birds and patchwork, I was really glad I persevered. And I love the stained-glass photo of the quilt from the back. Sigh. I was content.
When the top was finished, I sent it off to Krista of KristaStitched, who used the Bebop e2e panto at my request. I used a neutral backing and Soft and Bright polyester batting. She did a great job. I bound it with a narrow strip of the geranium color that was in the fabric line. I did have to send away for the half yard, as I’d pretty well used up all my fabrics.
I have one more post about this quilt, showing a few more bits in Part Six, but there won’t be a download for that one–it will live here on my blog. So head over to my pattern shop and get your free pattern. If you don’t have time to sew it now, feel free to save it for later. But please–do not share the patterns with your friends or families. I did this free sew-a-long as a thank you to all my blog readers, and do want you to download your patterns in my shop, not post or share them without permission. Thank you 🙂
For those who have been following along, I hope you’ve enjoyed this Heart’s Garden Mystery QAL. See you soon for Part Six!
This month is what I call a supporting month in the Heart’s Garden Mystery QAL. Of course you can figure out that flowers will be planted here next go-round, and so you’ll keep that in mind as you create your garden beds for them to grow in. There are three borders: the first inner one with large blocks and corner birds; a second one of interesting bits; and finally, a third one for stability and delineation for what’s coming next. All things rest on your creation this month, but first! some eye candy from Part 2 from Joan, Lisa and Susan:
Joan has put a butterfly in the center. Lisa (middle) also fussy cut her center and the striped border is really perfect. Susan decided to create a four-patch in the background of her Part 2 as she didn’t have any one piece of fabric that she liked. I’m really enjoying the creativity of these quilters!
This month includes making four sparrows in the garden.
I made more samples out of scraps to refine the pattern, but most of the fabrics I’m working with are Sherri and Chelsi’s line of Sincerely Yours, with a lot of warm pinks, reds and fun neutrals. After seeing the quilters above, I now want to remake it in something different.
Then the rest is cutting small bits, creating a background for what comes in Part 4–easy, peasy, right? I know it’s hard to create without knowing the future of a design, and my hat is off to Joan, Lisa and Susan for giving this mystery a go. As I mentioned in the last post, it was a bit of a mystery to me, too, after I scrapped the design of what I’d been headed toward and reworked it into a medallion quilt, but now I’m full steam ahead.
Here’s the front of this month’s installment. Parts 1 and 2 have come down, but all parts will be available in a stand-alone pattern, for sale in mid-summer. Our Instagram hashtag:
You can find Part Three in my online pattern shop. Hope you enjoy making this third part. If you can post them on Instagram they will be fun to see! P.S. If you can’t manage another project, feel free to download for another time.
P.S. This is how I feel about Daylight Savings Time.
“Fashion is not ‘art’, because the latter is sufficient in itself while the former always has a purpose, a function, a use. Recognizing the differences is the first step to instructing mutual listening, made up of curiosity, enthusiasm, and respect. This listening needs time, just like Haute Couture and ultimately also like art. In fact, the maturation of the project was slow, a rhythm perhaps unusual for our world but just and intimate for the world that I would like to.” -Pierpaolo Piccioli (from here)
And if you understood that, then you are more experienced than I in the language of haute couture–the clothing, the dresses, the fashion that is more concept than something you would hang in your closet. But just like the movie The Devil Wore Prada in that withering scene where Meryl Streep’s character critiques Ann Hamilton’s sweater, the fashion houses often tilt us to what’s coming in shape, in color and in what we’ll be wearing post-pandemic when we finally decide to crawl into stores and buy ourselves some clothes.
It’s also very likely that we’ll be seeing some influences on the colors we use in our quilts, or maybe even the shapes we’ll experiment with (if you are a half-way, non-traditional quilter). Or not.
So I was pretty amazed by the colors put together by the designer for Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli, and while I can’t pretend to really absorb what he said (above), I do speak the language of color, and thought you might like to see some of his designs, shown recently in the magical city of Venice, Italy. The contrast between that very old city with its own recent struggles with over-tourism, pollution and dwindling residents is a perfect contrast and foil to the glamorous, hand-sewn clothing made with extraordinary precision with pricey fabrics.
As Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times wrote: “[The designer Piccioli] has been conversing with contemporary artists — about their work, sure, but mostly about life in general, process, emotion, what turns them on — thinking about how to integrate their points of commonality in cloth…The result — shown at sunset beneath the brick arches of the former shipbuilding yard of Venice, with water lapping at the edges of the runway…was as powerful an argument for the interconnectedness of time, human connection and creativity as anything fashion has produced. The lushness of Mr. Piccioli’s palette — as a designer, he is the best colorist since Yves Saint Laurent — was on full display; so was his throwaway elegance, and his generosity. Not just to his atelier (his show notes name-checked the individuals who sewed each garment [italics are mine]) but to the bodies that will wear the clothes.”
So, what do I see?
In the above image, I see scale: large shapes on a larger garment, then those same large shapes on a more narrow profile of a dress. The designer plays with scale in many of his other pieces, using different shapes to emphasize different parts of the body, and different lines (like those flowing hats!).
I also see a lot of color blocking: large swaths of color against slivers of color (a bit of scale, again), causing each to accent the other. This collection is not about fussy little prints. Mostly I see lush, elegant and rich, deep colors:
This palette is missing the mint of the shirt. Sure, it’s a metallic shimmer of color and hard to catch, but that really makes this grouping, in my mind.
In this one, the palette generator is capturing a lot of the background, but it’s that’s slice of bubble-gum pink against those deep coral trousers which really caught my eye. The grey isn’t those flat greys we are used to seeing in our quilting fabrics, but a soft mellow gray, warmed up slightly, but not heading towards taupe or green-gray — maybe a deep off-white?
Orchid appears to be heading our way, but a vivid hue of that color, especially when paired with bright jungle green.
While the palette generator captured a lot of the background (I don’t see that pinky brown anywhere on the model), this palette is a “be-still-my-heart” series of shades for me as I love aqua blue. But it’s a new take on that–a refreshing deeper shade.
Now to shift gears from haute couture to the nuts and bolts of my life lately:
How about some velcro bolts? This is the boot they gave me to wear while my ankle heals. I hate it for a variety of good and not-so-good reasons (would it kill them to add some color?). The doctor okayed my getting around the house without it, so I’ve just decided to ace-bandage-wrap my ankle for protection, stay off it, and stay home. What’s four more weeks of pandemic quarantine?
Very proud of this: I drew the spools up by hand. Well, digital hand. Yes, it’s in my favorite color (aqua blue). I have found lately that getting the hang of a few tools in my Affinity Designer has opened up new worlds for me in terms of satisfaction with my work; it was a bit of a struggle at first, but a bit smoother sailing now. And why did I make these?
I didn’t like the nuts-and-boltsy (notice how I’m stretching the metaphor) look of BEFORE as it was too chunky and disparate. I also wanted something as well that would indicate degree of difficulty at a glance. So, I made spools. And I like how the shop looks now.
This is the new display pattern front. I still have a few things left to do, but have finished most. PayHip upgraded some of their marketplace tools, so I thought it was a good time for me to fuss around a bit, too.
Quilting SeaDepths (a variation of Azulejos) in spurts, while listening to this:
I like how the themes overlap: the ocean in Harper’s book with the theme of SeaDepths on my newest quilt. I can hardly wait to go upstairs and quilt. I’ve listened to two of her others: The Dry and The Lost Man and loved both of those. I will reserve my review on this until I finish it (5 more hours). While I listen, I think of Susan of PatchNPlay, and her trip to Tasmania. I can’t wait to show off the backing I chose for this quilt.
Lastly, there seems to something in the zeitgeist here, but truth! Patti chose this without knowing all the other watery connections I’ve just mentioned. If you jump on this link, you can see a lot of the blocks she’s received, all laid out together. I love how nice they all play together.
And that’s it for today. Happy July, Happy Not Wearing My Boot, and Happy Quilting!
Where does patriotism come from? The title for my quilt, “I Hear America Singing,” is from a poem by poet Walt Whitman. Today he might have been considered a type of patriotic American — one who saw and acknowledged the multitudes of regular Americans — and heard them sing their song of daily work (poem is at end of post).
“The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem,” said Whitman, and the poem, written in 1860 and published shortly before Lincoln’s inauguration, was a celebratory poem, lauding you and I — she and him, and those people over there. Karen Swallow Prior, in an article from The Atlantic, makes the observation that “Whitman’s claim stemmed from a belief that both poetry and democracy derive their power from their ability to create a unified whole out of disparate parts—a notion that is especially relevant at a time when America feels bitterly divided.” She goes on to say that:
“Notably, Whitman’s grammar (“the United States are”) signals his understanding of the country as a plural noun—not one uniform body, but a union of disparate parts. Whitman was centrally concerned with the American experiment in democracy and its power to produce “out of many, one,” even at as great a cost as the Civil War and the faltering Reconstruction. Whitman thus celebrates in his work the many kinds of individuals who make up a society as well as the tensions that bring individuals together in a variegated community.”
As Whitman asserts later in the preface to his Leaves of Grass:
The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors … but always most in the common people.
We often think that the ideal of “patriot” has an affiliation with war: the machines of war, the fighting and dying and the slogans and the confrontations, which leads in the end to the cemeteries of war, with honoring our war dead. We make that connection easily because we honor those who fought for our freedoms. I acknowledge them and am grateful for them. However, if it is defined only this way, it’s easy to feel separated from the idea of being a patriot, from patriotism, and make “them” responsible for the well-being of our country.
So on this Fourth of July, I wanted to emphasize a different sort of connection to patriot. That it is not found in going to war. It’s not in defined battles. It’s in us, the people. It’s in our going out of our way to take care of our neighbors, with their varied songs and carols and labor and daily work. It’s in going to that daily work, from the work of masons and shipbuilders and deckhands and mothering and washing and sewing: “Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else.”
Stephan Cushman noted, “Although we hear the words “patriot,” “patriotic,” and “patriotism” all around us … we do not have many useful public models for combining genuine celebration of the United States with constructive criticism of it.” Cushman gives a nod to the idea that “patriot” is a formal label that can be worn on one’s chest. But after noting that Whitman used that word sparingly in his volume of poetry Leaves of Grass, Cushman goes on to say:
“Different readers might offer different explanations for the paucity of direct references to patriotism in Whitman’s writing, but one that feels plausible to me is that someone so deeply engaged in celebrating various aspects of the United States, and in identifying himself with his image or images of an American ethos, had little need or ability to separate himself from that celebration and objectify it with an abstract term like “patriotism.” Or, to put the matter more bluntly and reductively, Whitman was too busy celebrating himself and his country, and insisting on the connections between them, to spend much time crowing self-righteously about how patriotic he was and how deeply he believed in the value of patriotism.”
Perhaps the greatest patriotism is in seeing each other, in realizing how alike we are and how dissimilar we are, making us figure out how to negotiate, how to keep the peace, how to be respectful. This is why one reason my husband and I photographed this quilt at our county’s 1903 Courthouse, a place administering and honoring those laws that are part of the the thousand daily comprises we make to keep our country stable and thriving. We also chose this place because it’s also really beautiful, with its craftmanship intact; this place generates in me that old-fashioned kind of feeling of pride, and yes, of patriotism.
As I have traveled around the world, I have found patriots in all countries, loyal to the carols they hear around them, fiercely proud of what makes their country the best one ever. It would indeed be a great world if we could all think like that, seeing this similarity as something that can unite.
Finally, Swallow Prior brings another gentle affirmation for this idea of America as a poem by mentioning Harvard professor Elaine Scarry, who “describes the importance of multiple viewpoints, arguments, and counterarguments to ‘political assembly,’ [and wonders] how ‘will one hear the nuances of even this debate unless one also makes oneself available to the songs of birds or poets?’ The basis of poetry is precisely those connections forged between different elements, different voices, and different perspectives. In envisioning the United States as “the greatest poem,” Whitman links the essence of poetry, which is unity within diversity, to the essence of democracy.”
I am a patriot of the singing kind, the poetry kind. I will always love America. And so I present to you my quilt, I Hear America Singing, a celebration of that great American poem that Whitman believed us to be.
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck, The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.