Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wonder Women Continued...

Let me set the scene...
We are at a beautiful retreat centre surrounded by WA bush and sunshine, 
And I was introducing you to some talented women with whom I was sharing a weekend of patchwork...
My blog posts are few and far between as it turns out. How that works in my favour in this instance, is now I can show you some progress pics! 
Do you remember Pat and her gorgeous appliqué blocks?
Well, her William Morris blocks now look like this!
And, she has stitched these teeny mini setting blocks for in between the rows, and has progressed with a gorgeous scalloped border. Beautiful!

I showed you this photo last time. Could you fathom that these pinwheels could evolve into this?:
Now seriously, the above represents such a great deal of effort, of time, of enjoyment! It's magnificent! Marg has worked on "Urban Owls" over the year, as a block of the month.  It is designed by Wendy Williams of Material Obsession in Sydney. 

Lizzy,... I would have to upload photo after photo to accurately record all she has sewn in between  blog posts, but her blue and cream heritage tumbling blocks that once spilled over the table, are complete, naturally, 
And her pleased-as-punch grin says it all!
But I have to show you a couple more of Lizzy's accomplishments:
Another Material Obsession design, this time by owner Kathy Doherty, and,
first to finish "Swoon" in her wildly eclectic style! I love it Liz!

Speaking of Swoon, a 9-block queen size quilt, made from big ol' friendly gal 24" blocks, has become a project that many of us are working on. I'll show you more of that later, in another post. In the meantime, Linda has stitched some pretty swoon blocks, 
So pretty! Now, I have said before that often people "match" their projects, which makes perfect sense since usually we wear clothing that we like, and we choose fabrics that we like. Linda, you and your swoon blocks are making a very pretty vignette!

Robin's swoon is kicking goals!
All Rob needs is sashing and borders and it's a wrap! 
Everyone was so delighted for Robin when she WON the raffle quilt made by the WA Quilter's Association! Robin is prolific. She knows every technical trick in the book for perfect, I mean PERFECT patchwork! She graciously and patiently shares her knowledge with the rest of us. I'm so happy that Robin received the blessing of this pretty win!

We come to these retreats with our boot-loads of patchwork essentials. We all have supplies we consider to be essential. I was fascinated with Pip's very fine collection of Gutermann threads. So pretty! How does she choose?

This next photo may mean absolutely NOTHING to you. But, if you know Blogger, and if you use Blogger on the iPad, you will understand that I have typed this entire post blindly, as for some unknown  reason, my alphabet keyboard is completely blank! Tonight I am thinking with fondness of my Grade 9 and 10 typing teacher who drilled into me the 8 finger alphabet keyboard. And then predictive text has helped as well. Whew! This has been a bit of a labour, and I've concentrated more on typing than on my narrative, so please excuse me if this is a little bland.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wonder Women

Some more quilty-bits on the blog today. For me, this creative outlet stirs up an eagerness and a tick-tick-ticking of ideas. As I work alone, patchwork has been an application of the hands and mind and heart in a multitasking effort to sew/think/pray.  And working collectively, it has placed me amongst beautiful women that freely offer friendship, inspiration, and connection, because of our shared interest. This particular post features some of these uber-talented ladies!

I have been a guest at 2 quilt retreats recently. Jacqui, my little treasure of a friend,
invited me to share her room at The Wine Tree's beautiful facility in Dwellingup. Even though a gate crasher, I received such a warm welcome from the women, all of whom I know from "Homespun", and with whom I enjoyed catching up. I left my work at the patchwork shop back in 2012, but women are so good at bridging the space of time and picking up from where we all last left off!

So, with busy schedules neatly organised in order to achieve a weekend's retreat, with minds full of ideas, fingers itching to begin, and the sun shining on us through a great wall of window, we all settled into a few days of creating.

Meet Sue. Sue wins the prize for discovering this gorgeous winery/retreat centre. She happened upon a cancellation and has since managed to secure a series of 2-3 night getaways throughout this year. She puts in all the effort behind the scenes liaising with both the owner of The Wine Tree and the chef at The Blue Wren cafe (who caters amazing meals and treats for us),and gets the entire weekend off the ground on our behalf!
Sue's creative talents are multi-faceted. She excels at the slow-burner projects that involve perfected hand work techniques as she meticulously embroiders and appliqués. However, all the way at the opposite end of the old-school/new-age stitching spectrum, we also find Sue, expertly manipulating the Rolls Royce of computerised sewing machines, generously sharing her knowledge of every kind of high tech machine skill imaginable!
Check out her attention to every imaginable detail -

Pat is a quiet achiever and a picture of industry as she balances her career with her passion for home, family, grandchildren and patchwork. For a few years now, Pat has set aside each Wednesday morning of her busy work week as her patchwork time, and as a regular student at Homespun, we have had the pleasure of seeing her sew one gorgeous project after another. She is prolific! This photo shows Pat with one of her appliqué block sets - each fabric carefully chosen and fussy-cut for a lovely finish! 

Marg is celebrating the arrival of a grandbaby with a labour of love that is stitched-to-perfection! Imagine the joy and anticipation that is represented in each stitch of little Eamon's handmade treasure.

Even though I do very little of it myself, I can appreciate the work and time and technique that is applied to some people's hand stitching! How do some, like Lois, achieve that kind of exquisite work that looks as neat on the reverse as it does on the front? From where does their patience come? Some talented person lovingly passed on their skill of traditional handwork and I believe they would be proud to see such results!

Pip is another marvel with a needle. She designs and executes with great skill. I loved her vintage style Aussie botanical quilt. The gum leaves and native flowers are perfectly set against the blue sky. Well done! 

Lizzie. She brings so much joy to our workroom! She adds colour with her fabric choices and more colour with her wit and cheeky humour. Something very good would simply be missing if Lizzie wasn't in attendance! Surely Liz must get the prize for the sheer volume of what she achieves in a sewing day! 
Happy brights or subtle reproductions - Liz will give everything a go and always gets the job done.

Janette! When I think of Janette, the phrase "rock solid" comes to mind. As a friend, she can simply be counted upon. She is a beautiful combination of speaking her mind and listening, of knowing her mind and a generous tolerance for other mind sets, of walking the talk, and so on. Her generous spirit extends to the patchwork world where she continues to give... give aid, give ideas, give gorgeous finished quilts to friends and family. 

Jacqui devotes her days as owner of the Patchwork shop to extending into the community a passion for quilting. Her teaching style is kind, patient and inclusive. Her skills are honed and well communicated. Here she is, inspiring us with her keen eye for fabric choices and colour.
Jacqui is beautifully re-working one of my patterns, "Mod Scallops" and giving it a vintage theme.
(Here is my original, below...) I love to see what others create with my patterns!
Jacqui's talents span vintage to modern without any trouble. Here on the design wall is another of her creations, eclectic, contemporary, this one also showcasing her flair for colour.
She will kill me for including this photo, but I have to. Yes, these weekends are for productivity and inspiration, but they are also for relaxing, for catching up, for sharing meals or enjoying a walk or a movie together, and quite simply, for the jokes and the pure fun of a good old belly laugh!

Marg is a quilter in the true meaning of the word in that she actually owns and operates a long arm industrial quilting machine. To some, the 'quilt sandwich' that must follow the piecing, can be quite a disagreeable aspect of the process.  Marg comes to the rescue, layering, stitching and indeed transforming someone's piecing into an actual quilt. God bless Marg and all the quilters out there! I have hand quilted a bed sized quilt once, so I can say that I have done it, but I have no desire to do it again. 
There were more ladies in attendance but I must iron out some technical difficulties I am experiencing with Blogger before I can continue this post. It's quite long as it stands anyway, so I will showcase these other ladies in a 'Wonder Women Part 2' post. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Every Quilt Tells a Story

"Seeing Stars", 2014
The other day I was facilitating a class at our local quilt shop. I brought in some "show and tell", knowing this particular group of women would be interested in seeing my project - we share many years of mutual inspiration. 
I held up my quilt top, unfinished (no surprise there), and I was slightly taken aback when one dear woman enthusiastically commented, "it's so alive". I thought to myself, "wow, how did that happen when all the while making it I felt half dead?".
In thinking about this, I am reminded that every quilt tells a story. On the surface, the design and colour choice alone depict something about the maker's personal preferences. More telling though, the quilt may mark a significant life event, a birth, a celebration, an illness, and all the maker's emotion and passion toward the person for whom they are sewing is invested in each stitch. There is love and friendship, good will, prayer, excitement or foreboding all mixed up with the designer fabric, the tools, technique and progress. And always, the end result of the labour are pieces of cloth that mysteriously sing out stories. 
I made my quilt, for me. I remember the morning when, after weeks of not wanting to get out of bed, I woke and finally felt that maybe that day I could accomplish something. So I went to the thing I knew how to do, and I sewed. It required little effort - I had previously made this same quilt for my sister, so I had duplicate fabric waiting for its' turn to shine, and the pattern was rote.
I filled a little box with cellophane packages of carefully chosen fabric combinations. I indulged in the process of sewing perfect points (you have to be a patch worker to understand), and of waiting for the play of colour and print to unfold with each star. 
I am a woman of prayer, and stitched up with these pretty stars are all of my offerings to a God who I know hears and cares. Psalm 56:8 in The New Living translation says, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."
Somewhere in the midst of assembling star blocks I knew that this quilt was about keeping a vigil. The individual blocks became rows and the rows filled a design wall with colour but my sewing was really an excuse to pray in an intentional effort to hedge and protect.

It is pretty. It does have a glow and a life of its own. Which is remarkable when I think about it because I thought my story would look worse in its telling.

The design for this quilt is straight from one of my favourite's...
     Kaffe'scolleague, Liza Prior Lucy made this quilt in 2005 while watching on television the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Her version is photographed below. She explains that her usual explosive use of vivid colour is not as evident in this creation, and that it is much more somber, reflecting appropriately what was occurring at the time and her response to great loss. 
The first quilt I made of this pattern I gifted to my sister. This version was all about celebration! Looking back, we were celebrating Christmas with family in Canada for the 1st time in 10 years! We were celebrating the 50th birthday of a beautiful, completely amazing woman! If the last was a prayer quilt then this first was surely a praise quilt!

I believe, when I finally finish with borders and quilting and binding, when it's laying across the foot of my bed, that my quilt will speak to me. Certainly it will always call to mind the circumstances that brought it to be . But it will also remind me that there can be beauty in the struggle. It will say, "remember the day you made that red block and your heart was settled?". Or, "This was the time you understood your hope to be an Anchor". "When you made me you learned to breathe out. You began to practise giving thanks in all circumstances."  Seeing Stars is a beautiful Story-Teller.