Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Affirmation" Life Lessons

I learned a lot while making "Affirmation".  In a nutshell, here's what I learned.

1.Everyone has a pace in life.  If you rush it, you're bound to make mistakes.  Trust the pace of your life.

2. Every choice we make has a purpose and meaning.

3. "The devil is in the details" is amazingly untrue.  "The details" is where you find your passion.  It's where you show your love.

4. When you experience joy while working, others experience joy from your work.

5. You know you've found a love when you find yourself willing to make sacrifices for it unlike you've ever sacrificed before.

6. Listen to your inner voice.  It'll never steer you wrong.

7. Don't lower your standards to meet others' expectations.

8. When inspiration hits you, don't ignore it.  You'll miss some fabulousness.  Go with your flow and let your greatness shine forth.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Joshua's Christmas Quilt 2014


I took a quick trip to New Orleans for the Fourth and decided to start on my nephew's Christmas quilt during the trip.  Yes, you are seeing this right.  It's another french knot project.  I don't know why I love them so much, but I do.

I am using Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton in the color Nightfall and DMC embroidery floss number 125.  The floss is variegated and lots of fun to work with.

I've already come up with a name for this quilt, but if I share it now, I'm sure it will give away some of the design elements I'm planning to use and I want there to be bit of surprise for my sister when she sees it.  So for now, it will go by the code name "Joshua's Christmas Quilt".

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Story of "Affirmation" (2012)

It's funny how sometimes, no matter how much you try to plan, things will only come together at the last minute.  That was the case with "Affirmation".

As I remember it, this quilt was intended to be a birthday gift for my best friend.  She had made mention of an Amy Butler kaleidoscope quilt that she liked and I knew she would never attempt to make it herself, so I decided to make it for her as a gift.  After I looked at the pattern, I decided that I too, would never attempt to make that quilt.  Too many pieces and more instructions than I cared to deal with, so I started to look for similar, much more simple options.  Don't get me wrong, if I thought her heart was set on that exact pattern, I would'lve attempted it for her, but I knew that she had probably only mentioned the pattern in passing and wouldn't remember it unless I brought it up again.

I came across a quilt by Jacquie Gering that I absolutely fell in love with and decided to attempt something similar.  I found the instructions on how to make the string pieced block and I was off to the races.

I decided that the quilt needed to be extra bright, which is completely counter to what I perceive to be her taste, so I chose Kona Slate to calm it down a bit.  I was Facebooking (yes, I just created a verb) much more than I was blogging at the time and came up with the working code name "The Ridiculously Bright and Crazy Quilt" so that I could talk about the process of making the quilt.

During the time that I was piecing the quilt, my friend learned that her husband was being deployed again.  For some reason, she was having more difficulty with the idea of this deployment than with the others she had already endured.  I wasn't sure why this one was different for her, but I could tell how heavy it was for her and I wanted her to know that she had what it took to get through it.

That same year, the movie "The Help" was released in theaters.  My friend saw it before me and convinced me to see it.  She was truly moved by the character Aibileen telling the little girl "You is kind. You is smart.  You is important."

Just as I was finishing the quilt top, I remembered how that scene impressed her and decided to embroider it around the border of the quilt.  While it wasn't the exact message I wanted to send her at that time, I believed she would understand my sentiment.  All I knew for sure is that she had doubts and I wanted to reassure her.  That is how the quilt got its name.

When I made the decision to include the words, there was no border on the quilt, so I had to add one.  I only had scraps left but figured out a way to make the leftovers work for me.  I loved the way it turned out and will probably make it my go-to border whenever I need to add one to another quilt.

While stitching those words, I thought about the times me and my friend sat in class together and tried to understand what was going on.  I thought about how we planned her wedding during exam season.  I thought about how we studied for the bar exam together.  I thought about how I admired her resilience, her independence, her self confidence, her positive attitude, her strength. I hoped that my stitches would communicate to her how much I appreciate her and how confident I was that she would make it through this deployment and that her family was going to be just fine.

When I finished the embroidery, I learned that my longarm quilter was completely backed up and I wasn't completely confident that she would quilt it the way I wanted, so I decided to make an attempt at hand quilting it. I had never hand quilted anything before and I have no idea what made me think I could or why I was brave enough to attempt it on a quilt top that took me a very long time to finish.

But I did it and couldn't have been more proud of the result.

The quilt took way longer than I thought it would, and it ended up being a Christmas present. The timing ended up being perfect because her husband was deployed around that time.

The post script to this story is interesting.  It turned out that my friend was right to feel uneasy about the deployment.  Her husband was put in serious harms way twice, but survived each incident relatively unscathed.  The family is in the process of moving right now.  They will be living in a much smaller space for the next year and so a number of things will spend the year in storage.  They decided that they can't take their entire collection of quilts.  She decided that "Affirmation" was one of the quilts that had to travel with her.  When the movers came to box up the contents of her house, the quilt was mistakenly packed away. As much as she hates to pack, she went through an already packed and sealed box to find the quilt so that it would not get put into storage.  I'm touched by how much she loves that quilt.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Grateful" baby

This is Sylas.

He's nine days old.

Mommy and baby are doing well.

Did your heart melt a little?  Mine did.

Special thanks to Sylas' mom and dad for letting me post these pictures and to Jane for allowing me to be a small part of all of this.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I Design Quilts In My Sleep...Well, Sort Of.

Even though I haven't finished a quilt meant to be a gift for my godchild for Christmas last year (and I am more than embarrassed about that), I am starting a new quilt that will be gifted to my nephew this Christmas.  Why would I do such a thing, you ask?  Well, I'm taking a trip next week, and I need something small enough to take with me.  My godchild's quilt is rather large and would require it's own carry-on bag.  My nephew's quilt will be 36x50 and will feature some embroidery.  I'll be able to take the one row that will have the embroidery and then piece it to the rest of the quilt top later.

This will be the quilt with his name on it that my sister wanted.  Each of the letters in his name will be inside of a three inch square and the negative space in the block will be filled with french knots.  I know I said I would probably not do another french knot project, but I loved the way it looked so much, I just have to do it again.

Originally, the quilt was going to be navy blue and orange.  I ordered the fabric, the ebroidery floss, and perle cotton for the hand quilting in those colors.  Then late last night, during the space between awake and asleep, I decided that I would rather use a turquoisey, sea foam green color with the navy blue.  I ordered the embroidery floss and perle cotton.  When I woke up this morning, I thought that I had dreamed it, until I saw the emailed receipt proving that I had indeed made the purchase.

Semiconscious design choices and purchases.  I think I need to move my phone further away from the bed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm Going to Meet the Ladies of Gee's Bend!!!!!

Today was the day for members of the Modern Quilt Guild to register for the 2015 QuiltCon.  I am so excited!  Next year's QuiltCon will feature the women of Gee's Bend and their wonderful quilts.  I feel so lucky to have gotten a slot in one of the classes they will be teaching.  I also plan to be sitting on the front row during their keynote address.

More to come on this topic, but please excuse me now as I go do my happy dance.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Story of "Grateful"

"Grateful" was commissioned by a friend for her nephew's new arrival.  She described her nephew and his wife as sort of a hippie couple that really likes the Grateful Dead.  She told me that they love to go to concerts and planned to take the baby with them to music festivals this summer.

I used my standard baby quilt pattern - string blocks against lots of negative space.  After talking to my friend, I knew three things for sure.  1) I would use bright colors, 2) I would use batiks for the string blocks because batiks remind me of tie died fabric, which is uber hippie, and 3) The quilt had to feature the Grateful Dead dancing bear, but I had no idea how I was going to pull it off.  I am not good at appliqué and I couldn't fathom a way to piece the bear, so embroidery was the only way to go.  But how would I fill him in?  The bear was too big to be filled with satin stitches.

And then I remembered a project from my 7th grade Home Ec class.  We made pillows with a rose on the front that was embroidered with french knots.  Yes, that would work nicely!  I would use french knots to fill in the bear. The knots would give the bear some texture that I was sure the baby would love to play with.

I had no idea how long it would take.

Twenty-five hours later and it was finished.  Next up was the quilting.  I spaced the lines half inch apart and completely underestimated how long it would take me. There are 72 lines on the quilt.  Each line took about 15 minutes.

During the time I was working on the quilting, I would think about this couple, whose picture I'd only seen once, and their baby that hadn't even been born yet.  I imagined them at concerts, swaying to the rhythm while the baby napped on the quilt.  In my mind, they were a particularly happy family and the baby was always full of smiles and giggles.  I hope that this family is as happy as I imagined them to be.

My friend makes baskets.  I don't mean she fills baskets with cool stuff for gifts.  She actually weaves baskets!  She made the baby a Moses basket so that the baby would have a unique place to chill and enjoy concerts this summer. Here is the quilt in the basket.

I grew connected to this quilt for a reason I can't really explain.  It might be because I spent so much time on it.  I almost didn't want to leave it when I delivered it.  I can't wait to hear what the family thinks of the quilt.  I hope they love it as much as I do.