Friday, March 31, 2017

FriYAY Friends on String and Story

Check out my interview with HollyAnne over at String and Story for FriYAY friends!

Frances from The Off Kilter Quilt, HollyAnne and Ian,
and me at the Chattahoochee Evening Stars Quilt Show


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WiP Wednesday - Bobbin Chicken

It's WiP Wednesday and I haven't worked up the courage to cut up any more pinwheel blocks, but I did do something sort of brave. I entered the string spider web quilt into the East Cobb Quilters' Guild show, Georgia Celebrates Quilts.  (Hurry! The deadline for entering a quilt has been extended until Saturday, March 25, 2017!)


I don't know if it will be accepted, but I do know that I work better with a deadline. Hopefully this will prompt me to get it finished! If it is accepted, I will be so excited to cross off a life goal (and not just by a technicality).

So I started by quilting in the ditch, ala Christa Watson. I quilted around all of the spider webs and the border. Then I decided to stitch across the spider webs horizontally and vertically, quartering them. And then, what the heck, I might as well go diagonally too and stitch between all of the wedges.

Finally I decided to echo around the border as well, since Angela says if you don't know what to do next, echo echo echo!


I played a little bobbin chicken and lost. I literally had less than an inch left when I ran out of thread. 


That's sort of how my week is going. The dryer died and Daisy had to go to the vet because she has a weird spot on her back and work is crazy. 

I hope things are going your way this week. What are you working on?


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

WiP Wednesday - All the Pinwheels!

It's WiP Wednesday, and there's a lot going on this week in my studio. First, I finished my March block for the Twilters bee. Janet requested Cheerio blocks based on this tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Company. I love it! Even though applique is not my strength, I managed to get this circle cut out and fused before using a decorative stitch to sew it down. (Hint: I used my smallest rotary cutter around the edge of a glass pie plate.)


Then I declared Sunday a Sew Day and finished all of the pinwheel blocks for The Pit Boss's Turning Fifty Quilt. I love the colors!


Unfortunately, I pushed myself a little too far and managed to cut not one but TWO of the blocks wrong. It was time to put down the rotary cutter and find something to work on with less challenging math.


The spider web quilt top has been haunting me, so I started piecing the back. I had this gorgeous stripe that had the perfect green and was the exact right length but not quite wide enough. Those piano key borders that I made and then rejected were just what I needed.


I broke out the big roll of batting for the first time!


...and basted the quilt. Now I'm slowly but surely stitching in the ditch and contemplating the rest of the quilt design. I'm sure I could find a few ideas in this book. (more on this coming soon!)


I love checking stuff off my list!


What are you working on?


Friday, March 10, 2017

Going to Guild - Virginia Greaves

Monday night was guild night, and our speaker was Virginia Greaves.  While all of Virginia's work is beautiful, she is known for creating incredible portraits of people and animals with fusible applique and dense quilting. I have linked to her website so you can see better quality photographs of her work.


Local peeps will recognize Virginia's quilt, Worn, from the 2015 East Cobb Quilt Show where it won the Best of Show award. Apparently both this and another of her quilts, Worry, were both inspired by the photography of Dorothea Lange, and ignited all kinds of controversy, which I won't bother to link to. I have no doubt that these quilts are art.


It's astonishing how she is able to capture facial expressions and skin tones and light. Her fabric choices, when examined up close, are genius. She uses prints to create texture and shadow and depth.


The horses below, Justice & Freedom, have so many different colors in them - purples and blues and greens - that read black and brown from a distance.


During the break, I had a funny moment. A visitor, Lisa, asked me if I go by Jennifer (which is on my name tag). I replied, as always, that I answer to anything, and she asked if I were Quiltin' Jenny! I think this is the first time I've been "recognized." It turns out that Lisa is a fan of Frances and Pam and The Stitch TV Show, and asked Pam's advice on finding a quilt guild when moving north of Atlanta.

Thanks, Pam, for directing another quilter to our guild and giving me a teensy tiny glimpse of your QuiltCon experience with being famous!






Wednesday, March 8, 2017

WiP Wednesday - Disappearing Pinwheels or #T50

It's WiP Wednesday, and this week I'm trying to collect myself after QuiltCon. My studio space was a disaster and I couldn't find several critical tools. A quick tidy was essential.

Once I got everything back in place, I could sew again in peace. It's very difficult right now to focus on my WiPs and not spin off into a hundred new projects floating through my brain, inspired by all the beautiful things I saw in Savannah. Thank goodness for my handy white board and design wall, reminding me every day of projects I fell in love with first.

My main focus is the quilt for The Pit Boss's fiftieth birthday. It's this Disappearing Pinwheel Block that I saw on Missouri Star Quilt Company's YouTube channel. Did I mention that I got to meet Jenny Doan at QuiltCon? She is absolutely as friendly and delightful in person as she is on TV!


Anyway, I found a fat quarter bundle of Alphabet by Windham Fabrics and a layer cake of Composition by Basic Grey for Moda at the Super Bolt sale at Tiny Stitches.


This project hasn't been without its ups and downs. On Saturday I had clearly not had enough caffeine to be trusted with a rotary cutter.



But all in all, they're coming along. I'm trying to decide how many blocks I need. Part of me wants to do 24 blocks plus two different borders after TPB admired the boys' Turning Twenty quilts and asked pitifully, "Is there such thing as a Turning Fifty quilt?" (cue the violins) 

I don't love borders, but that would equal fifty different fabrics and a nice sized quilt. The alternative is making more blocks and skipping the borders. I guess it will depend on my mood and how many more I mess up.


What are you working on?


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Stash - The Haul from QuiltCon


I was too tired when I made it home last Sunday to do a stash report, but there was quite a haul from QuiltCon. Between the giveaways and the prizes, plus what I actually bought, my car was loaded down a lot more on the way back to Atlanta.

First there were the giveaways. So many vendors were giving away fat quarters and charm packs, and paint chips. Trading pins is totally a thing, and I racked up! 

The best, though, was when I picked up my registration and was handed this awesome tote bag filled with goodies just for being one of the first one thousand people to register.



Then there were the games. Several booths had wheels you could spin or hats to draw out of. I think the moment I am most proud of is the puzzle challenge at the Aurifil booth. 



I won my round, and received a large spool of thread. Before you are too impressed, I was almost twice as slow as the best time posted so far - just over three minutes! My biggest prize was the fat quarter bundle of Art Gallery Fabrics.




And then, of course, there was the shopping. I had to buy a t-shirt. Handmade Rebellion has so many cute ones that it was tough to decide, but I finally settled on this one. I panic bought a pair of Kai scissors fifteen minutes before my embroidery class started because I couldn't find mine. Mostly I searched through the bins at Villa Rosa Designs, narrowing my choices down to two fat quarter rolls and two one yard cuts of fabric.




Finally, I made what I believe is the last large purchase needed to complete my studio space. Luckily this doesn't count towards my stash, but will help my back and shoulders. This saddle stool by Oakworks is so comfortable and a major upgrade from my wooden desk chair. 



The folks at this booth (ABM/Innova) were so fun and friendly. I have to give a shout out to Michael, who took customer service to a whole new level by carrying this heavy box to my car for me.


As for usage, the only thing I managed to finish were two pillowcases for Ryan's Case for Smiles to bring to Monday's guild meeting.


  • Fabric Used this Week: 2.5 yards
    • Fabric Used year to Date: 7.5 yards
  • Fabric Added this Week: 14 yards
    • Fabric Added Year to Date: 23.5 yards
  • Net Fabric for 2017: -16 yards used
  • Used for Charity Year to Date: 2.5 yards
    • Percentage Used for Charity: 33%


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

WiP Wednesday - Homework from QuiltCon

As you can imagine, I didn't work on any of my current works in progress this week, but I did add to my To Do list.


The Michael Miller booth let us pick out four fat eighths of fabric under the condition that we make and return a 6" block for a charity project.


The Marcus Fabrics booth issued a mug rug challenge, and had scraps available to get you started. How could I resist the Aunt Grace charm square?


On Friday evening, I took a class with Nydia Kehnle on embroidery. We were able to choose a state to stitch around as we practiced the various techniques. I'm not sure what I'll do with this when it's finished, but I am finding the hand sewing to be relaxing. It's also nice to have something I can work on while I'm watching TV with The Pit Boss or waiting for an appointment.


On Sunday morning, just before I had to head home, I had the most fun three hours in a longarm quilting class with Angela Walters called "Swirling Beyond Feathers."


Tina and I shared a HandiQuilter Avante and practiced all kinds of curves, motifs, and filler designs. Here's my practice piece. At the time it looked awful - I noticed every imperfection - but when I unpacked I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't a total disaster. I don't think I'll ever be in the market for a longarm of my own, but I might work up the courage to rent time on one from a local shop.


What are you working on?


Monday, February 27, 2017

6 Things I Saw at QuiltCon


I'm home from Savannah, and my brain is overflowing with inspiring images and ideas. I hardly know where to start when someone asks about my weekend, and I find myself trying desperately not to forget any of the people or feelings or quilts from the show.

There are far more than six things I saw at QuiltCon, but these are the ones that made me turn off my podcast and contemplate them all the way home. 

1. Light and Space - By now I think we all know that Modern Quilting, by definition, plays with light and space, and this was evident throughout the show. It was interesting how far it went, not only in the layout of the convention center, but also in the choice of Savannah as the host city. I don't think I've ever been to a quilt show that didn't have black drapes behind the quilts; here they were a pale gray, linen-looking fabric that made the entire room feel lighter. Additionally, the rows were farther apart than what's typical, and they were laid out in a zigzag pattern instead of the frequently used U shape. The room felt less crowded, and there weren't so many claustrophobic moments when too many people were trying to look at the same quilt at the same time. It was much more like an art exhibit with white walls and open space than a traditional quilt show.


I heard someone comment that they could have accepted more quilts had they laid out the rows differently, but I think it was the right choice. For one thing, I don't know how many more quilts I could have mentally processed! But I also think it carried the modern feeling into the room and brought a sense of calm into the excitement.

"Fly Away" by Suzy Williams

Savannah itself is beautiful, with natural light off the river flooding the convention center. The historic part of the city is dense, with narrow streets in a grid, while the convention center is on an island, apart from the rest. It reminds me of a common modern quilt design where a component or block floats away from the traditional grid. 

Photo Credit: HollyAnne Knight through my sunroof

Each day, as I drove across the beautiful bridge, I felt myself physically and mentally breaking away to a magical place filled with color and light. 

"Vertigo" by Elaine Poplin
2. Illusion - Quilts featuring optical illusions were definitely a trend at QC17. Some of them were very basic play with contrast and straight lines, while others dove deep into the geometry. 

Again, this trend carried through the show. In addition to the lighter drape and the wider spacing of the rows, the angles of the rows - some diagonal and some horizontal, up against the vertical and horizontal vendor areas - helped add the illusion of even more space. And again this reduced the sense of being trapped in a crowd and felt more like floating along a lazy river of quilts. While all of the rows led to the vendor areas, there was never an "exit through the gift shop" feeling of being funneled into one place.

3. Technology - Of course technology pervades our every moment these days, so this one is no surprise. From the online booking of our rental house to the navigation app I used to get to Savannah and move around the city; from the text messages we used to stay in touch with roommates and dinner companions to the quick swipe of a card and a finger on a screen to pay for fabric, technology was, and is, everywhere. While I know many of us cursed the technology that let us down when registration first opened up, it really is amazing what we can do with it. The QuiltCon app let me pull up my supply list in JoAnn's while shopping, reminded me of the classes I had signed up for and the demos I was interested in attending, and gave me the opportunity to review the instructors right from my phone. 

Angela Walters signing my copy of her book on longarm quilting

The computerized longarms and sewing machines would seem alien to quilters from just thirty or forty years ago. Thomas Knauer did a fascinating demo about how he uses the computer attached to his longarm to embed messages into his quilts, with text, Morse Code, and even Braille. I found these quilts to be so powerful and moving, even when the words weren't clearly visible. 

"Tea and Skittles" by Thomas Knauer
Of course, the social media posts were fast and furious. Instagram followers who expect to see some quilting mixed in among the pets and food must have wondered what was going on down in Georgia. A friend from home remarked this morning that my feed looked like a teenager's with so many selfies, celebrity sightings, and group photos. 

4. Maps - Maps were all over the place at this show, which made me smile at the irony. Maps are an old fashioned thing, like quilting. But in this very modern quilt show, where probably no one used a paper map to find their way to Savannah, there were a lot of map quilts. 

"Gotham Transit Authority" by Catherine Jarrett

I wonder if quilters like the idea of knowing where they're going, of finding the way and showing others, and putting things into perspective. Or maybe maps are just graphically interesting.

"Austin Quilt" by Gina Pina

5. Politics - This one makes me laugh a little, mostly because of the amusement my coworkers expressed when I told them I was going to QuiltCon. I got a lot of lame jokes like, "What do you wear to QuiltCon? A Betsy Ross costume?" I think they were picturing a bunch of white haired conservative Christian ladies who got up out of their rocking chairs to visit the quilt show.


In fact, there was a lot of pink and purple and green and blue hair at QuiltCon. In fact, there were a lot of tattoos at QuiltCon. In fact, there were a lot of twenty or thirty-somethings there - both men and women. While there were some little old ladies, and while the ethnic and racial diversity is not quite as broad as it might be, and while I know there were some conservative folks and some Christian folks, there were an awful lot of young people with some left leaning politics there. 

Detail of "Emanuel: At the Intersection of Hate and Guns" by Thomas Knauer

Maybe politics isn't the right word. Maybe it would be better to say there were a lot of statement quilts, quilts that spoke out about a wrong in the world. There were no fewer than three rape quilts, commenting on consent and legitimacy and how we treat victims. There were quilts about gun violence, including an incredible display of prayer quilts for the victims at Emanuel AME in Charleston, and a huge tribute to the Quilts for Pulse collection sponsored by the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild. There were many quilts that didn't seem particularly political, but whose descriptions mentioned finding the light or unity or coming together after the election.

"Implied Consent" by Colleen Molen

I think the one that spoke loudest to me was the one called "Still With Her." It was originally a quilt with Hillary's campaign logo, which the maker had cut up in grief and dismay after the election. She eventually pieced it back together, seeking the hope and optimism with which the original top was constructed. You can see the damaged, broken areas, and the new connections that join them back together. The emotion in this quilt was palpable and moving, especially as it was just a few rows down from the Lincoln quilt that won the Viewer's Choice award. Isn't that what America is about? Finding the connections and the things we have in common after a rift to build something better for the future?

"Still With Her" by Liz Harvatine

6. Community - Which leads us to community, the overarching theme of the show, and certainly what I loved most about my weekend. Communities were represented in the guild and bee group quilts for charity lining the walls of the lobby. The quilting community joined together to bring comfort to victims and speak out against injustice. The Quilt Alliance had a booth where they were documenting quilts in an effort to keep the traditions and memories alive. Communities from all over the world were represented in the show.

Frances, Pam, and a Quilt Alliance Volunteer

The Modern Quilt Guild has been through some growing pains. In its infancy, it had many supporters. It was cute and unthreatening. As a teenager, there were some Mean Girls moments. This weekend, as I watched Jacquie Gering on a one woman mission to make every quilter feel welcome, wanted, and at home, I began to think the guild has matured. 

Me with Jacquie Gering
Our online community of quilters is an amazing thing. I know these people - I know their dogs' names and their favorite colors, what books they read and movies they watch; I know if they like to cook and what worries them about their kids. But I haven't met most of them in real life. Spending time with so many of the Twilters in person - Pam and Lynn, Frances, HollyAnne, Daisy, Tina, Roilyn, AJCaro, and Jen - was like finding old friends. Frances and I sat up late every night having profound conversations that belie the fact that we had only ever spent one day together before deciding to share a house in Savannah. HollyAnne joined us seamlessly, despite being half our age and in a completely different season of life. I recognized Tina and Daisy by their voices before I even saw their faces. Some of us are night owls and some of us were in our jammies by eight are early birds. Quilts brought us together, and my time with them is what I will always treasure when I think of Savannah.

HollyAnne, me, Tula Pink, Pam and Lynne



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