Friday, April 18, 2008

What's On at the Studio

Being at the Quilt Studio doesn't just mean writing and quilting for myself--it's also teaching and sharing with other people. Yesterday, a young Marine wife with three very active kids in tow wandered into the Studio. She'd seen the sign from the sidewalk and assumed it was a retail shop. While the kids ran around, she said, yes, she'd like to learn to quilt and then made knitting gestures. Oh boy. I handed her the latest schedule of classes and told her when our guild meets and also directed her to the closest quilt shop just two blocks away. As the gang streamed out of sight, I thought, "I hope to see her again-" but all that responsibility and those active kids, I knew it would be a stretch.

But come to think of it, I was a raw nineteen when I started quilting. The picture here was taken in 1978! I didn't own a sewing machine, have extra income to buy fabric, room for a frame, or the vaguest idea how to do it. But I met older more experienced quilters and they shared with me. Somehow the enthusiasm stuck and years later, I can say quilting has been the primary creative outlet of my life. Who's to say she might not catch the bug too?

On my website , you can see expanded information about new classes at the Studio. Here's the link .

What follows is the schedule for upcoming classes at the Studio.
A basic skills class-Learn to Hand Quilt (4 week class) offered at two times: Tuesday afternoons, 1-4 pm (May 20,27, June 3, and 17) or Tuesday nights, same dates, from 6-9 pm. Learn both traditional running stitch and Bid Stitch style. Cost is $60 and includes a free quilting hoop.

A one-day design class: Exploring Black and White Quilts. How to sort your stash, plan a great graphic quilt, and get started on your own black and white masterpiece quilt. Offered twice: all day (9 am-4 pm) Thursday May 29 or again Saturday June 6. Cost $50.

A one-day "quick and fun" class: Little Silhouette House Quilt. Learn to paper-piece painlessly-all patterns preprinted for you. Offered twice: Saturday June 14 (9 am-4 pm) or the following Monday June 16. Cost $50.
Call me at the studio (252-726-4117) to learn more about classes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Yard Art and Inspirations

There are some color combinations that work well in nature but that I'd never use in a quilt. Take lime green and lavender for instance. I adore them in the wisteria bush in bloom in the side yard. The pendulous blooms are fragrant and attracting bees (a good thing) and as long as the wisteria blooms, it's safe from the pruning shears. Then, upon retiring, just as the wisteria puts its energy into stringy green shoots, it's "Whack! whack!" as we try to save the neighboring fig tree from being overwhelmed. This is a yearly battle and one must be brutal about pruning or we'd all live under the shade of the devouring wisteria.

Bright green is a problem for me in my quiltmaking. I'm trying to love it-there's two full bins of green fabrics on the shelf-but the fact is, my favorite green is a swamp-y olive. The best bright green around is the fig tree in the back of the yard. It makes beautiful deep purple, almost black, fruit and is starting already to show tiny figgy pips.

Another sign of spring: "man camp" is open for business. That's my husband's shed and he's deep in creative ferment presently planning new shelves. You never know what he might build--a boat, water wings, another huge kite, an easel, and maybe, maybe, a new quilt frame for me. He watched Joe Cunningham's DVD on building a frame and immediately went into woodworker mode. He approved of Joe scavenging lumber for the quilt frame since he himself is an eagle-eye at spying still-usable lumber from trash piles at the edge of the road. He was anxious until Joe talked about squaring the quilt on the frame and said, "At last!" This is a man who can tell if a picture is hanging 1/4" off from across the room. If he does build a quilt frame for me, it will be a veritable work of art. I live in hope.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Niece News

I am so lucky! Although I didn't have kids of my own, the family gene pool is safe--I have ten, count 'em, nieces and nephews. As the kids get older, they make contact with me and I can be an adult--who's not a parent--who can communicate/commiserate with them. I treasure these relationships.

My older brother Scott and his wife, Amy, have two girls, Heather and Bethany. Beth was mentioned in this blog a couple of weeks ago with her graduation news and now her older sister Heather (blog envy?) has sent along this announcement. Since she is a devoted scrap-booker, Heather designed her own digital announcement.

Heather plans to be moving to Portland, Oregon and I hope to see her next month when attending the Spring Quilt Market in Portland. She will shortly be looking for an apartment and a job in Portland but she's already found true love...first things first!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Slow Hand

Talking to a fellow hand-quilter today, we were amused that hand quilting, once the only way to quilt, is getting to be a rare commodity. I love seeing great quilting-however accomplished-and was amazed and pleased at all the beautiful quilting seen at the recent Mid-Atlantic quilt show in Hampton Roads, VA There were jaw-dropping longarm examples as well as domestic machined pieces and this time, a large number of hand-quilted entries. The Best in Show was a hand-quilted masterpiece by Linda M. Roy. Makes me wonder if there's an upsurge of interest in hand quilting?

Although I can quilt semi-competently by machine and even have done longarm quilting, right now my settled method of quilting is by hand. The latest kick is Big Stitch Quilting. I've gone back to my roots. Sometimes I can be seen crawling around on the floor of the studio basting a quilt top.

True, if I need something chop-chop, then I get out the machine. I'm not in a dreadful hurry to finish most quilts and make them first for my own pleasure and afterwards they might turn into class samples or be gifted to a very deserving relative.

I think many quilters are scared of doing a big piece by hand. I wish I could negate that fear. I just ordered Joe Cunningham's DVD on hand quilting and making a frame to show to my students. See Joe's website at . I admire smaller art quilts made by others but my natural-size palette (preferred working size) is about 80" square or thereabouts. Guess I design quilts organically. In other words, they grow and I cannot seem to imagine them smaller than 6 feet.

Does this mean I don't make as many quilts as some folks? Undoubtedly. I am into s-l-o-w quilting. It soothes my soul. Funny thing--I am often hired to teach hand quilting techniques because not many people are doing handwork these days. That's cool. I have been sloping toward eccentricity and uniqueness for years. My latest quilt is the sample from my beginning hand quilting class at the studio and I'm using perle cotton to do Big Stitch on it. Lots of fun and less tedious than fine hand quilting at 8 stitches to the inch!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Having a Ball-last day Quilters Beach Party

Sunday was even more blustery than the day before but students arrived bright-eyed to greet our special guest teacher. We were so lucky to have Barbara Suess, author of the new book Japanese Temari, come to the Quilters Beach Party to instruct us in the craft of making temari balls. I'd admired these complex-looking ornaments but assumed they were too difficult to attempt-not so! Everyone got a good start on their temari ball, beginning with a rice hull interior and even advancing to fancy thread-work. Mary Frankle and Jan Spickett sat together and helped each other with the more intricate work.

All too soon, it was time to pack up and hit the road.....the 2008 Quilters Beach Party was history. Many folks signed up for next year's Beach Party (March 26-29) and if there's too many sign-ups, a weekday version (the 22nd-25th) can be opened.

Farewell and happy stitching to the Beach Party Quilters until next year!