Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Time to Twinkle

In another two weeks I hit the road again as a traveling quilt teacher. It's my first time out since November 18th 2014. I told anyone who asked that I was taking a "sabbatical" for December-January but truthfully, the no-teach time was to allow for healing. 

Since April of last year, I'd known that my right hip joint was deteriorating. The doctor got me through the year by a series of cortisone injections and pep talks. My husband and I planned how to deal with the upcoming major medical event: I was going to get a new hip joint and we needed to deal with it. Rod applied for (and got) family leave time and took six weeks off from his job. In my ignorance, I'd assumed that family leave was only for women delivering babies! As I recovered from hip joint replacement surgery (five days in the hospital and then home) Rod became my caretaker, exercise coach, cook, and tennis shoe lacer. He did a superb job. Because of his care, I didn't have to go to a rehab facility but could come straight home. That fact made all the difference in recovering and getting stronger. 

Now it's not quite 90 days out from the surgery and the surgery has made a huge positive difference in my life. While I'm not quite up to running a marathon (didn't get the jock gene anyway) I am walking with ease and getting stronger all the time. The biggest lesson learned: when they tell you to exercise every day, there's a reason. If I skip the assigned exercises for even one day, I get stiffer and feel the new joint. If I do the exercises like I should, I get stronger and move fine. 

The Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia is my goal this month. After helping judge the quilt show on Wednesday February 25th (the show opens that evening-) the next three days are classes. 

I am delighted that two of my three classes have completely filled. The only one open for enrollment at this time is Twinkle, Twinkle Little/Big Star. It's a new class but one I've wanted to teach for a couple of years. Now I'm totally engrossed in making new samples and learning more even as I head toward Hampton. 
The class Twinkle features a simple Star block that is a snap to sew. I think that when you want to teach design principles, using a simple pattern is a good idea. It would be excruciating to try to impart color and proportion concepts while teaching how to sew a challenging Mariner's Compass block! Instead of heads down over their sewing machine, fretting about whether their sewing skills are equal to the task, I hope students can relax as they work with familiar shapes like squares and right triangles. The point here is to consider other design principles: color and contrast, proportion, and balance of the design. These are subtle principles, often subject to personal likes and dislikes, but when examined, each student can design and tweak their Star quilt project to be the best possible.

We'll even explore the Japanese principle of Mottainai (reduce, reuse, recycle, repair and respect)
The latest sample quilt top I've made is large (queen-size) and instead of piecing patchwork for the centers of the stars, I dug into my orphan block box and selected sixteen blocks--most of which I'd made eons ago and done nothing with--for the star center squares. (For non-quilter readers: orphan blocks are one-of patchwork blocks you've accumulated but are never going to multiple into a project with--they sit around until you find them a home!). I cut my orphan blocks to size (that was really fun!) and started sewing. 

I think quilters come naturally to Mottainai--we've been reusing and recycling for ages. It's how our craft came to be. Although cutting my orphan blocks might seem to be brutal ("What?! Cut up your own work?!") it's actually a form of respect. The work of my hands never hits the trash can--it reappears, even years later, in new quilts.