Monday, April 26, 2010

Weekend in San Francisco

I had only to mention the Amish Abstractions exhibition at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, and my sweet husband immediately suggested that I go.  And I had only to mention San Francisco to my sister, and she suggested that she join me. We flew down bright and early Saturday morning and I was home by 10:30 Sunday night.  In between we packed in quilts, shopping, wine, meals out, and lots of walking.

 I highly recommend our hotel in Union Square.  It  more than fulfilled their claim of "urban hospitality" and description as "innovative, practical, and funky."  The hotel and our room were attractive and comfortable, and the service was exceptional.  The staff were welcoming and very attentive to our needs.

Two of our first stops after settling into the hotel were Needlepoint, Inc., which is a really wonderful shop if you like needlepoint and Britex Fabrics.  What a fabulous fabric store, well-staffed with knowledgeable employees!  It is certainly four floors of bliss for sewers; however, the selections were somewhat limited for a quilt maker -- but it is not a quilting store, so that is understandable.  I loved visiting each of these stores, but I was rather pleased with myself for leaving them with my money still safely stashed in my wallet.

With a little assistance from our friends at Hotel Abri, we caught a bus to Golden Gate Park and walked to the deYoung and the Amish Abstractions exhibition.  I had already seen every quilt in the book and on the internet, but I was still amazed and awe-struck by the sheer beauty of these quilts.

Some are dark and rich and some are muted, with lighter or brighter colors that seem to glow, but the colors are always fabulous.  These quilts are fascinating to me on so many levels that I can look at them over and over again.  They are both simple and complex, traditional and  modern, restricted and liberated.

The weather was sunny and warm...

...just perfect for breakfast outdoors in Union Square.  See the Needlepoint, Inc. signs?  That's why I can always find the store when I visit San Francisco.  I just need to find Union Square and look for those signs.I
After breakfast Sunday morning we walked through the Heart of the City Farmers Market and explored the Hayes Valley Neighborhood (boutiques, art galleries, wine bars, etc.).  I've seen the Keep Calm and Carry On slogan so many places lately, that this little gift bag in a bookstore as we neared the end of our weekend really caught my eye.  I think everyone needs a little whirlwind getaway now and again, but if that's not possible...

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Friday, April 23, 2010

The excitement builds...

Last night was the second meeting of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and we enjoyed meeting at a new location, Pacific Northwest College of Art, in the Pearl District in Portland. It is a nice, central location, and they are friendly and seem genuinely happy to have us use their space.

The energy and excitement of gathering so many  passionate quilters together at one time is electrifying.  Who else could get so excited over -- POTHOLDERS!  Welcome to our potholder swap.

We all made and brought potholders in any fabric or style desired and wrapped them in plain brown wrapping, depositing them in this large (almost not large enough) soup pot.  Each member chose a package, and as our Program Chair, Cherri, would say, mass unwrapping ensued.  I got the very last package left as I was so busy watching everyone opening their potholders and taking pictures.  There was so much inspiration and so many big smiles.

Amber and Tania


...who made this brightly colored potholder that went home with me :).

This lovely lady opened my potholder, and I was so pleased that she looked really happy, I forgot to get her name!  This is the first potholder I've ever made, and my first grommet, too.  It was an act of courage just to mark on and then cut a hole in something I'd just made!  The Good Folks fabric is part of my hexagon project and the Kaffe Fassett binding is from binding the Mosaic Columns quilt.  And who doesn't have Kona Coal in their stash?  You can see I've still got wonky cross blocks on the mind, which is good because I have a lot more of those to make!

Cherri gave brief demonstration on how to make these wonderful cathedral window-ish potholders.  See the peek-a-boo fabric in the center?  The larger fabric triangles were originally sewn to the back and then flipped to the front.  I was busy taking notes and pictures, so I think I'm going to need a refresher course, Cherri.

Tobey went home with the book Pretty Little Potholders, donated by Lark books.  And while she and her husband both blame (I mean credit) me with getting her hooked on quilting, I'm pretty sure she won't be gifting this to me.  But she will share; won't you, Tobey?

Everyone went home with a little package of Insulbright, donated by the Warm Company.

We ended with a little impromptu show and tell.  Tamara had just received a couple of quilts that had been professionally long arm quilted.

Lovely finished quilts by Tamara:

 Marcia shared this quilt -- one that she is finally keeping for herself.  While she was very humble about the simplicity and ease of the pattern, is there anything better than a design of simple shapes done beautifully?  There is a lot to be said about the beauty of simplicity.  The wonderful long arm quilting on this was done by Nancy.

You will have to forgive this horrible picture, but I just had to try to give you an idea of what one member did, inspired by a design on Project Runway.  These blocks were made by pleating this fabric:

A real labor of love!

Seriously.  Would you actually risk getting marinara sauce on one of these?

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Monday, April 19, 2010

Springing ahead

I spent some time on Sunday preparing packages to send: quilt blocks for bees and fabric for a swap.  It always feels good to tie up loose ends!  And that's why I knew I just had to join Jacquie's Spring to Finish Challenge 2010.  And I decided to set reasonable goals for myself (for a change).  I decided that I could probably handle one task per week for a total of 6 loose ends tied up.

* Finish this (very) mini quilt made with leftovers from cutting triangles for my hexagon quilt.

*  Finish this mini quilt with Jennifer Paganelli fabrics.

 * Finish this Dollies Online quilt top, perhaps making it into a pillow sham for my daughter.

* And prepare backs for at least three of the quilt tops that are piling up at my house and Karen's.

Of course, now it occurs to me that I have seven quilt backs to make -- so one per week, plus one more for good measure.  Maybe I should do these first and then have fun with my little projects without the pile of quilt tops hanging over me.  Opinions?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In - April

Heather and I are making cross quilts "together," and Amy and Carla have joined in the fun.  Heather and I have been using this pattern by Kelly McCabe, but both Amy and Carla have come up with their own fast and fun methods and posted tutorials.  Carla's liberated cross block tutorial is here, Amy's method designed to make the most efficient use of her precious Hope Valley fat quarters is here.

Friday Night Sew-In seemed like an ideal opportunity to make up a few cross blocks, and I started with two more Amy Butler fabrics.  I love how these turned out!

They are starting to add up, and I'm very happy with them so far, except these two blocks:

See how the background color on the Sun Spots is just a little to yellow for the Kona Snow?  Although this Wall Flower fabric has a little of a similar color, so maybe in the end everything will work out.  Time will tell.

Next, I finally turned my attention to the Nicey Jane + Essex cotton-linen blocks.  I love working with the Essex!  Once pressed, the fabric really holds it's shape, but I had to be careful to press and not iron as it was surprisingly stretchy and just the movement of the iron on my 10-1/2 inch squares could distort the edges.

Final total for the night: 10 blocks.  I was working slowly, and while Amy and I agreed that I should not be a distraction to myself, I absolutely was -- puttering around and re-arranging things.  Buy, hey, I found my Kona Color Card!

Final total for all cross blocks: 34 (26 Amy Butler and 8 Heather Bailey).  To put this in perspective, I think I would need 58 for a throw.

And yes, it does strike even me as odd that I am making two cross quilts and each is blue and green.  And it does occur to me that they just might work together if I combined them.  I should try to find time to outsmart the cats so I can lay them all out together and see how they like each other.  Or not.  A person can never have too many blue and green quilts -- at least in my book.  As always, I'm just making it up as I go.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quilts in the rain

I sewed all day -- all sunny, sunny day -- so that I could finish  Michael's City Park quilt top and get a picture of it in the sun. Just as I was going outside for a photo shoot with Michael's assistance, it started to rain.  But I'm a Northwest native, and a little rain does not deter me....

City Park Quilt -- design and pattern by Cherri House/Cherry House Quilts

In all my time working with these many blues and greens, I never got confused and mixed any of them up.  But look what happened when I was sewing some improv blocks for a bee last night...

See that big navy rectangle?  I thought it was black last night when I sewed it, but it was sunny today and pretty obviously not black in the morning light.  Here's the sister block...

Maybe I can just cover up that navy...

Nope.  I can still hear it taunting me.  Guess what I'll be ripping apart tomorrow night after work?  

But I can always count on Samantha's assistance.

With wishes, true and kind -- Joan