I’ve just returned home after a vacation in Italy and UK. In Italy, where the weather was sunny every day, the colors were so rich and vibrant with heavy saturation. In Tuscany we stopped by this beautiful field of sunflowers to take photos. I love the yellow against the the blue-blue sky and the way the sun shines through the upper petals of the flowers.
I stayed with friends in Northwestern Italy in the Piedmont area. We visited the nearest market town, Aqui Terme, and enjoyed the abundance in the local farmers’ market. The produce was so fresh and delicious. These colorful peppers are very inviting and when looking at the composition of the photo, I like the contrast of the striped coverings over the stalls.
In the UK, the hydrangeas were in full bloom and spectacular in the West Country. This one was at my niece’s farm in Dorset. Look at all the different shades in a continuum from blue to pink.
As a quilter, I feel inspired by array of natural colors in these flowers and vegetables, and I’m sure that this adds to the store on which I draw when designing my quilts.
In May, when I took a road trip to Northeastern Oregon, I went on a tour of the Pendleton Woolen Mill. I’ve always admired the Pendleton products and was interested to go there to see how it’s all done. Check out this video to see the process.
The mill was founded in 1863, over 150 years ago. I was impressed by the scale and the rate of production from what is now a highly mechanized mill. The woolen fleeces are dyed, carded, roved, spun and wound onto bobbins. White yarn is also dyed into over 500 different colors. All of this takes place, before you even get into the weaving of the blankets in beautiful intricate patterns, many of which are inspired by Navajo and other Native American patterns. These designs really appeal to quilters like me and are inspriing!
The machines are huge, make a lot of noise and are incredibly fast.4.25 million pounds of raw wool is processed every year. The looms are computer programmed and automated to make these complex designs, but set up requires skilled labor and all the blankets and rugs are manually checked for flaws.
After touring the mill, I perused the “seconds” room where wonderful bargains may be found. I succumbed and bought a beautiful blue blanket which was half-price, like the ones in the stack in the photo. The only thing wrong with it was that it was made 4″ too short.
I recently visited the newly opened BARN facility at 8890 Three Tree Lane, Bainbridge Island, and was very impressed. BARN’s mission is to build and support an open, inter-generational community of artisans and makers who are dedicated to learning, teaching, sharing, and inspiring each other with creativity, craftsmanship and community service.
Their goal is to create a true community center, using craft as a magnet to bring together people who would not normally know one another or have opportunities to collaborate. They want to connect seniors eager to pass on skills they spent decades learning with young people just starting out, and longtime islanders with people who have just moved here. Working side-by-side, participants will share tips, ask questions, and lend a hand when needed, gradually building trust and new friendships. Community service projects done in BARN’s workshops will widen the circle of connections even more. The result will be a more resilient community—one where people have hands-on skills and are committed to helping one another.
Years of planning and fundraising went into BARN. The project was initiated by a group of woodworkers who wanted to share studio space, tools and expertise. The woodworkers have spent hundreds of hours making all the cabinets, tables and more. BARN has 25,000 square feet of space including 11 studios: Woodworking and Boat Building, Metalwork, Welding and Sheet Metal, Jewelry and Fine Metals, Glass Arts, Fiber Arts, Printmaking, Book Art, Writers, Kitchen Arts, and Electronic and Technical Arts. Members may use the studio space and the equipment. Classes are open to members and non-members and various organizations, such as the Bainbridge Island Modern Quilt Guild, can meet there. This is an awesome place! Here’s a picture of the Textile Arts studio, mostly focused on weaving with several looms available for use. There are one or two sewing machines, but so far, the space is not really set up for quilters and there is no work wall. It’s early days and quilting is not currently a priority, but who knows, one day they might get a long-arm sewing machine.
My good friend and long-arm machine quilter, Wanda Rains, recently completed this delightful elephant quilt. This appliqué pattern is by Edyta Sitar, Laundry Basket Quilts. Wanda hand-appliquéd the elephants and just for fun, turned one elephant facing the opposite way from all of the others.
Check out these detailed shots of some of the elephants. I love Wanda’s choice of fabrics and all the elephants have eyes. The checked corners in the blocks and border and the dark sashing strips make a pleasing setting for this herd.
I’ve recently completed a quilt that I’ve been working on for a few months, just in time to take it to Italy to give as a gift for dear friends who moved there in April. I’m so excited about going to visit them and the quilt is a surprise. By the time this blog posts, I will be in Italy. This busy design includes very personalized fabric choices. Anne is an accomplished musician and Denise is an electrical engineer. There’s beer for Denise and prosecco for Anne. The grand pianos and piano keys are a major feature along with the flowers for these avid gardeners.
The large flowers are the new ones in Italy, (Anne and Denise and the flowers they will plant) and the small classical flowers are the Italian ones. Here’s a closer shot for more details. They love cats and have one which traveled with them from US to Italy. After completing the quilt, I realized that I omitted any reference to their sporting allegiances, so I added the Seattle Mariners compass, appliqued on and visible close to the center of this picture. The Seattle Seahawks label appears on the back of the quilt (see below).
In this picture it is a little easier to see the three different blocks in the quilt: Snowball, Jacob’s Ladder and Shoo-fly. The detailed shots below show the corner blocks in which I used technology fabric for Denise. Denise generously gave many hours of her time to completing all kinds of technical projects at our church, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island. She made tremendous improvements to the lighting, so the fabric with light bulbs seemed most appropriate. The shots also nicely illustrate the grand pianos. One of my students brought some of this grand piano fabric to my Bargello Quilts with a Twist workshop and fussy-cut the pianos for her blocks. They looked great and I loved the fabric, so I found it on-line and ordered it for this quilt.
I long-arm machine quilted the quilt with the help of my good friend Wanda Rains, using her long-arm machine. Wanda helped me with the set-up on the machine and advancing the quilt after each pass of stitching. I quilted in a watery meander pattern. The back of the quilt is yellow and sunny; sunshine and water to nurture these new flowers in Italy.
In May, on my way to the John Day quilt show, I spent a day teaching at Highland Quilts in Athena. I met the owner, Elaine Shaw, when I taught last year in Walla Walla. She was enthusiastic about my work and asked me to contact her anytime I was visiting the area. Athena is a tiny rural farming town between Walla Walla and Pendleton. Elaine’s shop is at 312 East Main Street, (pretty much the only street), and well worth the small detour off the highway if you are passing. Here’s Elaine outside the store and inside.
We had a cozy class of 10 students at the back of the store for my Bargello Quilts with a Twist workshop. Elaine had made a beautiful sample for the class, which was hanging in the store, along with the quilt she began at my Kaleidoscope Puzzle Quilts workshop last spring. These samples really make a difference in promoting my books and patterns in the store.
The store is one large room with a good inventory of fabric as well as the essential notions, books and patterns. The upper walls are lined with beautiful colorful quilts to inspire. Elaine will give you a warm welcome and you should enjoy this gem.
Happy 4th of July! One of my students in Texas brought this fabric to class. I just had to smile when I saw these patriotic chickens!
In May, I did a quilting road trip to Northeastern and Central Oregon. After my time in John Day (see last two posts), I went to Prineville where I taught at the Crook County Quilters’ Guild. My quilting hostess took me to the local quilt store in town, The Quilt Shack, and I was welcomed warmly by the owner, Rhonda. The store is located at 1211 NW Madras Hwy/Hwy 26. This place has great character both outside and in, and I loved it.
The store is light and has a spacious feeling even though it is quite small. There’s a good selection of monochromatic fabrics as well as several fun novelty prints. I found the perfect red fabric for my current project.
Here’s some new farm themed fabric and a nice barn blocks quilt sample.
There were some wonderful touches, for example, this pretty basin full of buttons of every color. If you are in Central Oregon, take some time to stop by.
Last week, I posted pictures of my quilts hanging in the John Day quilt show at the Fairgrounds on 19th and 20th May, where I was the featured artist. Here is a sampling of some the other quilts in the show made by guild members and locals. The first is a Carpenter’s Wheel, made by Dotty Parsons and machine quilted by Mary Lou Drury. Dotty made this quilt for her grand daughter, Halle. I love the blue background to offset the the horsey, western themed fabrics.
The delightful farm quilt was made by Karen Hinton. The hearts quilt is another by Dotty Parsons made for her grand daughter, Halle and quilted by Mary Lou Drury.
Karen Hinton made this curved strips quilt. I love her arrangements of the colors and all the different fabrics.
This denim Memory Quilt won the People’s Choice Award. Faith Hundley used materials collected from her relatives. Her Mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, aunts and daughter gave her fabrics, trims and pillow cases. There is white silk from a World War II parachute and fabric from a wedding dress. Faith combined these beautifully and the outstanding machine quilting by Nancy Rowland really enhances this charming quilt.
Last month, I drove across the mountains on a long teaching road trip to northeastern and central Oregon. I was invited to be the featured artist at the Grant County Piecemakers’ quilt show in John Day on 19th and 20th May and then taught my Bargello Quilts with Twist workshop there the following day. I took about fifteen of my quilts representing my work over the last 20 years, plus an addition 12 Bargello block quilts. Seeing them all hanging together was quite something. Many of the large quilts stay at home when I travel to teach and even those that travel frequently are never hung altogether, but usually shown one at a time during my lectures. I have to admit to having a, “Wow, did I make all of those!” feeling!
These four are Glacial Stars (the blue and white one), Trip Around the Garden, Celestial Garden and Stars Around the World. I designed Glacial Stars for the 2017 Kitsap Quilters’ Guild raffle and worked with other guild members to piece the quilt top. Barbara Seitz, one of our guild members, won the raffle and kindly let me borrow the quilt so that I could display it at the show. The pattern is available at my on-line store. Trip Around the Garden is featured in my book, Traditional Quilts with a Twist. Celestial Garden was a finalist in the 2003 National Quilt Museum’s contest, New Quilts from an Old Favorite: Feathered Star. It placed 5th in that contest and hung in the museum in Paducah for three moths before touring the US for another 18 months. My most recent quilt, Stars Around the World, was made for my daughter and son-in-law using 64 fabrics that they collected from 27 countries on their one-year trip around the world.
I displayed several of my template-free Kaleidoscope quilts including the two Op-Art Kaleidoscope quilts on the left of each picture, Retro-Radiation and Tropical Matrix. Dragonfly Dance has on-point Kaleidoscope blocks. There are three Bear’s Paw variation quilts, all featured in Traditional Quilts with a Twist. The quilt with the large green triangles is my Almost Modern Jacob’s Ladder, a finalist in the 2013 National Quilt Museum contest which also hung in Paducah and traveled around US. Down at the far end is my black and green Radiant Feathered Star. Patterns for the template-free Kaleidoscope quilts and the Feathered Star are available at my on-line store.
The right picture shows my Mongolia table where I had items for sale to raise funds for the Mongolian Quilting Center. Both pictures include examples of my Gateway to Mongolia design (pattern available) which is one the most popular classes that I teach. The Woven Rainbow is a relatively recent piece and I’d like to experiment more with this idea. The black, white and red quilt is my Original Octangles in which a large print is featured in an octangle surrounded by triangles. Further down the row is the tree quilt made First Graders at Blakely Elementary School, with hands for the leaves of the tree and woodland animals drawn in the borders. This quilt is featured in my first book, Creative Quilting with Kids.
I had a large class with 18 students the day after the show in the same hall at the Fairgrounds. We left all the Bargello block quilts hanging to inspire my students. These are all featured in my book, Bargello Quilts with a Twist (available for mail order at my on-line store).