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.

Choose Something Like a Star: Quilt Finish

Choose Something Like a Star
Quilt #238
29″ high by 33″ wide

Biography of this quilt

Titles considered
Choose Something Like a Star (from a poem by Robert Frost)
Playful Star (from a haiku by Tada Chimako)
Double Star
Binary Star
Twin Stars
Eclipsing Binary (I really fell down a rabbit hole on this concept)

I don’t often give individual titles to quilts made in a series, but all of the Triad Harmony quilts have such a different look, that I wanted to distinguish them by name.

Fabrics used
All from the stash

Batting
Soft and Bright polyester. I buy it by the roll and cut off what I need for each quilt, but this time I made a “frankenbatting,” pieced together from scraps. This post talks about how I do that.

Thread used in piecing
Masterpiece, by Superior Threads Color: Granite #156 Sometimes I use other threads. As long as it is good quality (not the cheap stuff from the sale bin) I’m happy with it. I am, however, incredibly specific about what I quilt with.

Thread used in quilting
Magnifico, by Superior Threads, various colors (top thread)
So Fine, by Superior Threads, (bobbin thread) coordinated to top thread

Quilting Patterns
After racking my brain, and browsing all the patterns in Lori Kennedy‘s books and my saved Instagram posts, I went with loops in the stars, ruler work in some of the triangles, and a wonky starry border pattern (which doesn’t really show up, which is fine). Choosing a quilting pattern is always a challenge. I have to repeat to myself: The perfect is the enemy of the good. Seeking for the perfect can also be the enemy of the done.

Binding Method
Single fold binding method I did use the glue stick method: after ironing it into place, I stroke it with a school-supply glue stick, pressing it to distribute the glue. Then I topstitch it with some Magnifico thread, matching it to the binding/border.

Label
Put through EPSON inkjet printer, then bordered

Book listened to while I worked
I am working my way through the series by Julia Spencer-Fleming, featuring the Reverend Clare Fergueson and the police chief Russ Van Alstyne, solving mysteries, and set in a small town in upstate New York. These were recommended to me by my friend Bette.

Inspiration
Desire for a cousin to Annularity, to make a smaller version that can be used for workshops.

As you can see, it takes a village to make a quilt.

I still like the name Eclipsing Binary. Below is a sketch of this effect, of one star eclipsing another.

from here

Other Triad Harmony quilts:

Triad Harmony
Secret Garden

Pattern can be purchased on PayHip. Thanks also to my angel friends from Berlin, for holding up the quilt for me. I turned off the comments, as this is just a biography post.

Triad Harmony • Quilt Finish

Triad Harmony, quilt number 234
33″ wide by 29″ high

Annularity now has a little sister, and her name is Triad Harmony.

Triads that harmonize are found in color wheels and in music. The Oxford Dictionary of Music notes that “Zarlino was the first theorist to accept the triad as a full-fledged consonance. Not only did he accept it, he dubbed it the harmonia perfetta—the ‘perfect harmony.’ He rationalized giving the triad this suggestive name not only on the basis of the sensory pleasure that triadic harmony evoked” but also because of reason and mathematical theory.

But that’s not why I named it that. I don’t really know why I named it this, other than my triad block is the basis of the design. Sometimes names just drift in out of the heavens, and there they are.

I was asked to speak to the Coastal Quilters Guild about a year ago, and my friend Susan wanted to make Annularity. When we all were switching to Zoom, I thought I should try to create a smaller version of that quilt, as small quilts are more easily created in a workshop setting. And I promised her I’d try it in Kaffe fabrics, her first love. So here it is, but it’s so hot off the press, that I haven’t had a chance to quilt this version. (Coming soon, and with a different name, I promise.)

The pattern is finished and can be purchased on PayHip, my pattern site.

I also drew up a bit larger version and I loved seeing some of the drafting details, so I took a screen shot. It is also when I found a significant error in my first quilt, but I doubt you’ll find it so I’m not going to tell you where it is. Humbling moments come at me from every direction.

It’s been an intense two weeks filled with smoke from fires in my lovely California, watching most of the Democratic convention and parts of the Republican convention, worrying about people I love, dealing with asthma and a reaction to a Shingles vaccination, writing up this pattern, quilting the first quilt, cutting and sewing the Kaffe version, moving my in-person Guild Visits to Zoom visits, trying not to be cranky when we had ten days of 100+ temperatures, along with the usual.

I didn’t have to deal with sending children back to school in masks, a stressful essential job where I had to risk the covid-19 virus, money troubles (thinking about my early days when I didn’t have two quarters to rub together in my pocket), locating a good fabric shop, teenagers, car or computer troubles.

I have some observations about the conventions, a thought or two about some of the other things, but today I am tired, so I’ll close it out here.

Take care, everyone. Keep quilting. Keep bringing the beautiful into your lives, one stitch at a time.