A Month of Thankfulness

One of my fellow bloggers recently titled a post “Thirty Days of Thankfulness“, and that strikes me as a good idea.  Much of her post ended up being about making cards to thank people for various things, which seemed like a good idea, too.

Then another blogging friend, Chela, commented that the day after Halloween is WAY too soon to start Christmas music in the stores.  The combination got me thinking…

Maybe instead of the month of December being about shopping and decorating, it might be a time of reflecting on what we have to be thankful for.  Thanksgiving could be the kickoff, and that would give us exactly a month of thankfulness until Christmas.  Just saying.

It’s not difficult to think of something I’m thankful for every day, but since this is really a quilt blog, here are 10 quilty things for which I am thankful:

  1. My hands and eyes work well enough to make quilting fun.
  2. I learn something from every quilt I make.
  3. I’m thankful for my sewing machine!
  4. Many fabric designers and manufacturers provide wonderful fabrics for me to work with.
  5. I’m thankful for my rotary cutter!  Yes, I started quilting in the days before rotary cutters!
  6. Many people have taught me along the way, and I appreciate their contributions.
  7. Quilting books are an endless source of inspiration!
  8. I appreciate the way my blog puts me in touch with other quilters, and the way we share ideas.
  9. My quilt studio is well equipped, and this time of year I especially enjoy the wood heat.
  10. I’m thankful for the way quilting has helped me make good friends everywhere we’ve lived over the years.

What are you thankful for?  And yes, next week it’s back to our regularly-scheduled program with quilt pictures!  Thanks for stopping by.

 

Travel Inspires

As my friend Melanie recently pointed out, travel can inspire creativity. We just got back from a loooong drive across the country to New Mexico and back, and I took a few pictures of things that inspired me.First, we saw literally thousands of these wind generators across the flat, windy, high plains of West Texas and Oklahoma. The complex shape of the blades is quite an engineering feat by itself, even before the rest of the contraption is considered. It was great to see renewable energy in action, and these are attractive additions to the landscape in my opinion. (No, we never saw any dead birds near them, despite looking.  Research in Europe suggests this is mostly an urban myth.)

In New Mexico, I looked for the details that said “Southwest”.  These design elements are a kind of shorthand for “you are here” and I thought that idea would be useful in designing quilts (or anything else).  Here are a couple.

Stucco walls, turquoise trim, tile roof

Courtyard enclosed by a stucco wall with a wooden gate; tile accent along roof edge; flat roof

Now, I’m off to learn to organize my photos in Photoshop so I can find the rest of the pictures from the Southwest 😀

NC Quilt Symposium–Teachers’ Show

Here are some of my favorite quilts displayed by teachers at the recent North Carolina Quilt Symposium.  I wish I could have taken classes with all of them!

NC Quilt Symposium

Bending Star by Gyleen Fitzgerald

NCQS

Blooming Happy by Gyleen Fitzgerald

Quilt

Pursuit of Happiness by Gyleen Fitzgerald

Gyleen Fitzgerald

Jack and the Beanstalk by Gyleen Fitzgerald

NC Quilt Symposium

Even With Brown by Gyleen Fitzgerald

N C Quilt Symposium

Facets by Marge Tucker

Marge Tucker quilt

Hay Bales by Marge Tucker

Weeks Ringle, Bill Kerr

On the Dot by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle

Susan Cleveland

Flowered and Feathered Frenzy by Susan Cleveland

colorful quilt

Bouncin’ Trio by Susan Cleveland

There were many other beautiful teacher quilts–these are just some of my favorites.

Next week I’ll show some of the award-winning quilts made by attendees at the NCQS.

North Carolina Quilt Symposium–Rosalie Dace

I recently took a class at the annual North Carolina Quilt Symposium, which this year was held in Asheville, relatively close to where I live. The class was taught by Rosalie Dace, an art quilter who lives in South Africa.  The focus was on techniques for putting lines into quilts.  Since she is an art quilter, there were many techniques that wouldn’t be used in utility quilts, but it was fun to try them out anyway.

Here are a couple of Rosalie’s quilts that were on display at NCQS.

NC quilt symposium

Here and Now, by Rosalie Dace

Rosalie Dace

African Blues, by Rosalie Dace

You can see more on her website.

And here are the items I made in class with her.  The first is not intended to be a finished piece; it was just made to try out various techniques.

I doubt this next block will be part of a quilt any time soon, but it was fun to make.

Later on I’ll have pictures of quilts made by some of the other teachers.  When I saw them, I wished I had been able to take more than one class!

Another Fun Guild Program

This is part of my occasional series on guild programs, with the hope that it will help others who need to come up with program ideas.

Our modern guild has no money to hire speakers, so we are taking turns sharing our talents. One of our members recently volunteered to teach us block printing on fabric, and she furnished all the materials herself!

block printing quilt fabric

Suzanne brought a beautiful print she had made as an example

A few of us had done block printing in the past, but these blocks were much easier to carve. Apparently the block medium is now made of soft rubber rather than linoleum–a big improvement for the hands and wrists.

block printing

Some people carved abstract designs, using the whole block

Everyone got a square of rubber to carve. Some people carved a design on the square using the entire thing. Some carved an object and then cut out around the object so that it could be glued to a board backing for easier handling.

It was fun to see what everyone did.

 

Then we were given ink and encouraged to mix the colors, either to produce a variegated print or to produce a secondary color.

The prints were amazing and fun.

I didn’t get a picture of the block used for these fish, but they were very successful.

block printing fabricOur challenge for next month is to use the printed fabric in a project.  Can’t wait to see what everyone does!

Inspiration from Nature

One of my online friends, Chela, reminded me that nature is a great inspiration for quilts (as well as other art).  So here are some of my favorite nature pix.

I love plants and flowers of (almost) all kinds, so they are a frequent subject:

inspiration for quilts

Can you see the bee?

It’s a Jack-in-the-Pulpit right beside my back steps!

Kenilworth Ivy is a favorite, and I like the pattern against the rock wall

The forest floor on one of our hikes

Any nature picture is improved by adding a grandchild!

Like most folks, I take pictures when we travel, some for the colors, some for the general scenery.

The colors are monochromatic, indicating how this little guy survives in the Canadian Rockies (when he isn’t begging from tourists)

One of these days I’ll use this picture, made on the Blue Ridge Parkway, as inspiration for a landscape quilt

The colors in New Mexico are always fascinating, and the sky so big

The one thing I don’t do, and don’t intend to do, is print my photos on fabric and put them in quilts that way.  I use them for shapes, colors, arrangement of forms…but for the purpose of interpretation, not direct copies.

How do you use your photos in your quilts?

A Few Favorites

I’ve been thinking about what inspires my quilt designs, and the first thing that came to mind was the beautiful or fun or amazing quilts I see at shows, guild meetings, retreats, wherever.  Here are a few of my favorite quilts for inspiration.

I love the variety of bright colors and the tiny pieces in this one:

Retreat-17

Quilt made by Jerri from TINY pieces of Liberty of London fabric

And this is a favorite because of the bright colors and eccentric design:

Cinco de Mayo, made by Renny Jaeger; pattern by Karen K Stone

This unusual design appeals to me:

Rena was given a circle cutter at the last retreat, and she went wild!

Pamela Wiley’s excellent workmanship and eye-popping designs make her quilts among my favorites:

art quilt, Pamela Wiley quilt

Outside In by Pamela Wiley

I like the use of color in this next one, as well as the movement generated by the curved piecing and curved quilting:

AQS Paducah

In the Marsh #2, by Carol Bryer Fallert-Gentry

And this one reminds me of Maine, where we lived for a while:

art quilt

Coves and Islands by Carol Anne Grotian

What inspires your designs?

An Unfortunate Event

But luckily just the one, not a series.  Here goes…

I’ve said before that I enjoy Pinterest and I use it to save everything from quilt ideas to recipes.  I mostly ignore the ads, though I do note that they somehow have me pegged as needing plus size clothing, which is not the case, thanks!

I know there’s a lot of “profiling” going on at Pinterest as well as most other sites, but usually I don’t worry about it.  However: I recently found an idea I thought I’d blog about, so I started a Pinterest board labelled “blog”.

Oh. my. goodness.  Pinterest immediately sent me a bunch of suggested pins concerning how to “improve” my blog.  The first one I clicked on led to an obviously fake blog post (meaning this person doesn’t really have a blog, she’s just a front for an advertisement).  That was bad enough, but the product advertised is designed to “spam” Pinterest for you by posting your stuff several times a day with “no effort” on your part.  This is supposed to drive traffic to your blog, and it probably does.

Now I wonder how many people are using the strategy of spamming Pinterest to have their stuff put in front of me looking like a genuine pin, when really it is an ad?  I’m always cautious online, but this is ridiculous.

You’ve been warned.  And I’ll go back to blogging nice pictures of quilts next week.

Anybody had a similar experience with Pinterest?

Ultraviolet

The Pantone company is an international organization (though based in the U.S.) that defines colors so that they can be reproduced exactly for printing and industrial uses.  Since 2000, the company has chosen a “color of the year”.  The 2018 color, announced this past week, is “ultraviolet”.  Here is the picture of it from their press release.  You can read the whole press release here.

Pantone publishes many color references, and I have one of their books of suggested color combinations.  I love looking at it, but in reality I choose my color combinations based on what looks good to me.  The book is fun anyway, and certainly I could use it if I ever get “stuck” on finding a color scheme.  You can see information on my book and look at some of Pantone’s other resources here.

I’m sure many of you are well familiar with the Pantone color system.  If you aren’t, browse their website just for fun.  And keep an eye out.  I’m always interested to see which industries seem influenced by the Pantone color of the year and which do not.  Will we see an immediate increase in the availability of purple fabric?

 

Road Trip

We recently went to the Southwest to visit family, and of course that required visits to a few quilt shops! I like to visit quilt shops when I travel because I always find something new. All these shops have websites, so I’m embedding links to allow you to visit them, too.

First stop was Thread Bear in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Las Vegas is a nice little town northeast of Albuquerque.  It has interesting architecture for those of us who like to see fun buildings of different eras. We stayed in the oldest hotel in town, on the town square. It was built in the late 1800s.

fabric, thread bear, las vegas NM

Fabric from Thread Bear in Las Vegas, NM

But about the quilt shop: Thread Bear had lots of fun fabric from which to choose!  I limited myself (with some effort) to the two pieces above.

Next was Loveland, Colorado, where Stitches has opened since my last visit to the town. They had lots of lovely modern fabrics, so I had to have a few fat quarters. One of the pinks and the yellow are the same pattern as the purple fabric I got at Thread Bear–that’s always fun 🙂

Fabric from Stitches in Loveland, Colorado

After Loveland, we went on to Albuquerque, NM, which has several quilt shops.  I limited myself to purchases at two of them.  Especially notable, however, was Hip Stitch.  They had so much beautiful fabric (including what looked like the full line of Grunge) that I was in there a looong time (just ask my husband!) trying to limit my selection.  Then when I got to checkout, the clerk helpfully pointed out that they stock postal service flat rate boxes, so I could buy more than I could carry and have it mailed to me!  Oh my, what marketing!  So if you own a quilt shop, take note!  Anyway, here are my fabrics from Hip Stitch (I resisted the urge to buy more and have it shipped):

Hip Stitch albuquerque, nm

Fabric from Hip Stitch in Albuquerque. The red has a silver metallic print that I couldn’t resist.

Next is Albuquerque was Stitchology, where I selected several fat quarters from their nice variety.  They also had lots of lovely fabric for clothing construction, but I stuck to my priorities and did not get drawn back into that!

fabric, stitchology, albuquerque

Fat quarters from Stitchology in Albuquerque

I was able (with a little effort) to fit all my finds into my suitcase.  I do have a project planned for each of these fabrics!  I’m off to the studio now…hope you have a good week!