Amish Quilts in Shipshewana, IN

In May, I enjoyed a day in Shipshewana, IN and my two previous blog posts feature a couple of stores in that Amish town. In this blog I’m sharing more beautiful quilts that I saw during the day. These were displayed at The Lang Store adjacent to Lolly’s Fabric Store, the Little Helpers Quilt Shop and in the hallway of the building which houses Yoder Department Store and other vendors. The Amish quilters tend to make traditional pieced quilts and all of these are hand-quilted with small and even stitches. The workmanship is outstanding and if I was ever considering buying a high quality quilt with hand-quilting, Shipshewana would be a great place to go. Since I’m not in market for buying one, I simply looked and appreciated them.

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The Lone Star was particularly beautiful with gorgeous hand-quilted feathers and arcs enhancing the design. It was inspiring to see all these wonderful quilts in so many locations.

Yarn Bombs in Franklin, PA

I spent the first week of this month in PA where I taught at two quilt guilds in the Pittsburgh area. In between, I went to stay with a friend in her cabin in the beautiful Allegheny Mountains. We stopped in the attractive town of Franklin for lunch and to meet the quilters collecting me. Right in the center of town outside the Court House was a green strip with cherry trees adorned in colorful crotchet and knitting. These yarn bombs were sponsored by the Wooly Wonders Knitting Guild and Diane’s Yarn Shoppe both based in Franklin.

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What fun! I loved these vibrant tree wraps. Clearly there were many contributors and their work was all pieced together in an inspiring way to make a bright and cheerful display. Here are some closer shots including some Granny-squares, and don’t you just love the bee!

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Kitsap Quilters’ Guild celebrates their 30th Anniversary

At our recent Kitsap Quilters’ Guild meeting, we celebrated our 30th anniversary by honoring our founding members. Five of the original ten were at the meeting. Here they are, from left to right, Norma Tipton, Donna Endresen, Margaret Mathisson, Helen Heins and Evelyn Bright. Each reminisced and shared some of their quilts. We heard about the first retreat where they slept in bunk beds and had to clear away their hand-sewing projects from the table in order to eat their meals, and the first quilt show held in a church hall. All except Helen were joint owners of the quilt shop in Poulsbo, Heirloom Quilts, which was incredibly supportive to the guild in numerous ways. These ladies were pillars of the guild for many years and still remain active. Their contributions have been amazing and they constantly inspire us.

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On the left below are a couple of Donna’s quilts. She loves to make scrappy quilts and says “Why use only four fabrics when you can use 40?”. Margaret’s are on the right, and as well as being beautifully pieced, they are hand quilted. She has been a member of a small hand-quilting group since the guild began and they still get together once a week and hand quilt around a frame, taking turns to quilt each other’s quilts.

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Evelyn loves to applique and makes magnificent quilts. The quilt with the Christmas blocks was made from our guild Christmas block exchanges where people make 15 identical blocks. They keep one and the other 14 are exchanged so that everyone gets 15 different blocks. They usually gather up two or three year’s worth of blocks to make a decent sized quilt.

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Norma began a voluntary program at the Women’s Correctional Facility in Purdy and for years went to the prison every week to teach the ladies there. Other guild members have also participated and this program continues. Our guild has donated yards and yards of fabric, batting and quilting supplies. The prison ladies make quilts for a battered women’s shelter. After they have made a certain number they are allowed to make one for a family member. The guild donated funds to purchase a long-arm quilting machine too, so quilt production is healthy at the prison and the women love it.

I encourage those of you who are in guilds to express appreciation to your founding members who did so much to help your guilds become established and to thrive. We celebrated with two cakes and made it into a lovely social event.

Colorful Rugs in Oaxaca

Continuing the theme of vibrant colors in Mexico, here are some examples of the many beautiful woven rugs. The colors are often rich and heavily saturated. The Zapotec people use natural dyes including plants, minerals and insects. Inspiration comes from their colorful surroundings of lush vegetation, exotic flowering plants, birds, majestic mountains and local folk-law. Like pieced quilts, geometric shapes are repeated to produce wonderful patterns. The scenes with popular themes such as the tree of life filled with birds remind me of applique. In all forms of art, the color wheel works!

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Colorful Oaxaca

I’ve just returned from an amazing two weeks in Oaxaca and the surrounding countryside in southern Mexico. We began the trip with a couple of days in the city of Oaxaca, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s easy to walk around the heart of the city and my room mate and I explored the streets near our hotel on our before breakfast walks. My immediate impression coming from the grey of a Pacific Northwest winter, was the vibrancy of color everywhere.The buildings are in good shape and many are freshly painted in gorgeous hues and bright combinations. Here’s a sampling.

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I’m sure at some subliminal level my exposure to these delights will influence and inspire my quilt making in the future. Enjoy these pictures. Don’t the rugs look fantastic against the bright blue walls!

Thought Patterns exhibit at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

I’m excited to be one of the 15 artists featured in the current group exhibition, “Thought Patterns”, at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA). “Thought Patterns” is a group exhibition featuring artists working in diverse media. The common thread is how these regional artists construct their ideas in patterned and repetitive ways. The show includes more traditional forms of fiber art (textiles, quilts and baskets) and expands on the notion of “woven constructions” – combining diverse ideas and materials through drawing, painting, artist’s books, metalsmithing, woodworking, construction, digital prints, and video. Whether tightly loomed or more loosely arranged, each artist weaves their own personal narrative.

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The show opened in mid-October with a patrons preview party attended by 390 people and the next day an afternoon for meeting the artists and an evening party for guests of the artists. About 35 of my friends came to the evening party and we had a wonderful celebration. I’m thrilled to have four of my quilts in this exhibit and to see them hung in a museum setting in combination with the amazing work of the other artists. I really enjoyed meeting some of the other artists and was surprised how similar we are in drawing inspiration from naturally occurring and man-made patterns. Here is a sampling of their artistic works.

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I loved these colorful quilt-like pieces by Julie Haack made from latex paint on salvaged wood. The box is open at the far end and is actually entitled, Quilt Cave. Julie writes, “This is what happens: the geometric patterns distort and invade neighboring planes, the tidy constraints of static rectangles become convex curving forms suggestive of movement. The academic rules that dictate which materials are acceptable in conventional art-making practices are disregarded, instead of canvas, small pieces of wood are assembled in a mosaic and presented formally as a highly crafted object balancing between painting and sculpture.”

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Artist Aaron Levine, makes incredible tessellated patterns from hundreds of tiny sixteenth of an inch thick tiles of wood. These are displayed as table tops. The one on the left is entitled I AM the Center. My picture doesn’t do this beautiful table justice. The I is in the center and is then tessellated into gradually changing patterns that are different on each of the four sides of the table. The right picture shows the detail from another table. These are mind blowing.

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These exquisite, delicate works are made by Aaron McKnight using tiny pieces of birch bark, papyrus, and acrylic paint and sealant. Aaron uses scissors to cut the patterns of dots from the bark. Without any magnification, (he’s young and has good eye-sight), he creates these beautiful sculptures with wonderful radiant symmetry and detail.

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Waterfall, by June Sekiguchi is made from enameled scroll cut engineered wood. This piece is about eight feet tall. The elements are layered and placed on a rod at the top. The order may be reconfigured each time the piece is installed. June is inspired by natural and anthropological sources. She explores by processing, deconstructing, and re-structuring a form and focusing on metaphorical rather than literal interpretation of the source material. The woven piece, from wool and linen, looks very quilt-like to me and I love the bands of gradually changing colors. Suzanne Hubbard wove this and named it Transcendence.

I was delighted how the work of all these artists and others not shown here were displayed in a coherent and attractive exhibit based on repeating elements and patterns. I feel honored to have my work as a part of this. The exhibit runs until mid-February. Do visit if you can!

Cruising in Alaska – Garden Tours

Many quilters are gardeners. If they aren’t gardeners, they usually have a deep appreciation for botanical geometry and patterns in nature. The color combinations used in formal gardens are often inspiring to quilters and we become aware of the many shades of green and the way that natural colors don’t appear to clash. Many quilters have qualms about choosing colors and values for their quilts. These gardens demonstrate that we can actually get away with putting all kinds of colors together. We just need to move away from the notion of whether or not we would wear these colors together or use them to paint the walls of our houses.

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Our final cruise stop was Victoria, B.C., where I took a trip out to the world famous Butchart Gardens. As you can see, the density of color was intense and the carefully planned areas of the gardens could support this. It looked dazzling.

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The star-shaped pond was stunning outlined by the green and the mass of pink begonias. An added element with water features are the beautiful reflections. Here is spectacular sunken garden made in an old quarry, with the fountain at the far end.

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In Skagway, I had a delicious lunch, including fresh local produce, at the Jewell Gardens. This is a gem of a place about a mile and a half from downtown Skagway. The vegetation is lush and they grow giant vegetables and rhubarb. The growing season is short but the hours of daylight are long. We had a delightful tour enjoying not only the gardens, but their glorious setting with the backdrop of mountains.

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There were some glass sculptures tastfully lurking among the flowers and some nice creative touches like this blue barrow of nasturtiums.

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Next time you visit some gardens, take note of all the colors and the light and dark shading. As our experience increases, so our quilts become more sophisticated.

Fantastic Fibers 2015 – Paducah, KY

During AQS QuiltWeek in Paducah, there are all kinds of exhibits to see in addition to the AQS quilt show. The whole town embraces the expansion of its population by 30,000 as the quilters descend, and many of the downtown shops are decorated with quilts. I’ve already written about the Rotary exhibit of antique quilts, and then there is the National Quilt Museum. The latter is exceptional and worth a visit if you anywhere near Paducah at any time of the year.

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In the heart of this small town there is an old market building which houses a historical museum and the Yeiser Art Center. Here, there was a wonderful international juried exhibit, Fantastic Fibers 2015, sponsored by Fiber Art Now Magazine and two former mayors of Paducah. This display included some quilts and a variety of other fiber media such as 3-d fiber sculptures, felted wool, woven materials and more. As quilters, we take our inspiration from many sources and it can be illuminating to look at other art forms. Here’s a sampling of the works that particularly appealed to me.

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This extraordinary piece occupying a large section of wall, Come Fly With Me, by Paula Bowers of Grand Rapids, MI, was made from hand felted fiber. It made a stunning impact from the other side of the room. Close up, it was a beautiful blend of lush colors.

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Snow Bound, by Betty Busby, Albuquerque, NM was a magnificent fiber vase, hand painted and stitched. It stood about five feet tall.

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This art quilt, Fancy Shawl Dancer, by Linda Anderson, Le Mesa CA, was a beautiful piece really capturing the motion of the dancer and the shadow. The piecing, painting and quilting were so intricate and added great depth.

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Three Caged Birds, by Robin Haller, Greenville, NC, is a handwoven triptych. The quilt-like quality of the pattern appealed to me as well as the color combinations.

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On the left is Fiesta, made by Cuauhtemoc Kish, San Diego, CA. I love the composition of this quilt and the use of silks made it very rich. The pair of quilts, From Here to There, by Shea Wilkinson, Omaha, NE depicts the human and robotic brains. The picture does not do justice to the amazingly intricate quilting.

This exhibit ran for two months, so it is now over. It’s possible that it may travel to other areas of the country. If so, I hope you can take a look at the real thing.

Guildcrafters Quilt Shop, Berkley, Michigan

I was fortunate to visit the Guildcrafters Quilt Shop in Berkley on my way to the Detroit Metro Quilt Guild from Ann Arbor. The store carries over 6,000 bolts of batiks, traditionals, reproductions, designer, novelties, wool, minkee and hundreds of flannels. I loved the character of this place with inviting displays and colorful quilt samples. It was inspiring and I’m sure that if I lived in this area, I would be a regular here. Here’s a pictorial tour.

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There was a spacious notions, books and patterns area and a section of wool. These woolly creations are wonderful and I especially liked the hedgehog.

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A whole section of the store was devoted to babies and children with attractive quilts, toys, clothing, fun accessories and appropriate fabrics. This was great to see all these beautiful samples to entice and inspire, such as the elephant pillow and the Dr. Seuss quilt.

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Inspiration for quilting

What inspires you when you quilt? I suspect that it’s not only seeing the work of others, or quilts in books and magazines. Patterns are in abundance in our everyday lives – in nature, architecture, furnishings, floors, windows, media and so the list continues. I believe that what we create in our quilting designs is strongly influenced by all of these and they provide us with inspiration.Staying open and receptive to seeing what is around us is fun and helps us build our store of ideas. It may be a particular color combination, or a geometric design that gets us started and as the work evolves, other factors come into play based on our visual and life experiences, whether it’s traveling the world or staying close to home.  20141209_134856

In this era of android phones, it is very easy to snap photos any time we see something that captivates our imagination and that can be stored for a future quilting project. This graphic work of art hangs on a wall in the baggage claim area at Seatac International Airport. The photo shows only half of it. All the colored circles are reflective discs and this is a stunning vibrant piece.It reminds me of the Trip Around the World pattern (most appropriate for an airport). Unfortunately, there was no information on the artist.


I snapped this one out of the plane window when I was returning home from Texas in mid-November. It was somewhere in northwestern TX or SE Colorado, probably not far from Amarillo, The light dusting of snow highlights the patterns created by the irrigation circles and it looks very quilt-like to me.