Sunday, August 25, 2013


Not much achieved this week, just a shirt that no one loved (it's too small and the cat yuked on it, so I guess she didn't like it either).  And I made some zucchini bread from the 2 lb zucchini we got from CSA (I'm starting to hate CSA) but forgot to add the sugar. So I'm starting to think this is just a month where I sit back and admire other peoples' projects instead of trying to work on my own.

Missy J was sick last week and I figured in her weakened state she wouldn't be able to protest a long car ride, so we headed up to the World Quilt Show in NH.  There was some truly inspiring stuff, so I thought I'd share the photos that I keep looking at, over and over.

I had two favorites: this was from Alison Laurence of New Zealand, called Off the Wall.  I love the graffiti look, I love the shoes, I love the too-big winter coat, I love it that if I squint I can pretend it's me.:

I was also really taken with the negative space design on this set of minis done by quilters/artists from the UK who call themselves the Fusion Quilt Group - they were inspired by The Secret Garden, one of my favorite books as a kid. And for the record, did that book involve a love triangle or was that all in my nine-year-old imagination?

I also liked these mini-quilts from a challenge by members of The Surface Design Association.  The theme was Blind Eye: The Result of Doing Nothing.  I haven't done, nor have I seen a lot of political quilts, and I found these really moving.  The themes ranged from child abuse:

To gun violence:

To the challenges facing teachers today:

And I liked this one by a grandmother who said her quilt was about how she sometimes avoids young men that she finds intimidating when she's walking down the street.  Now that her own grandson is a teenager, she wonders if other people make assumptions about / avoid him in the same way.  Her quilt questions how we change that.  I'm paraphrasing, she said it much more articulately in the note, but I liked the sentiment and the way she did the figure on the quilt.

These were incredible too:
From a South African quilter - but I didn't catch the name because someone was starting to get fussy- maybe because we were standing in front of it for like, twenty minutes.

Just look at the forehead alone:

This was a mini, part of a Women, Peace and Security challenge by Quilt for Change.

The Basket Makers of Axoum, Ethiopia by Meri Henriques Vahl (U.S.) also stopped me for longer than J was comfortable with.  The detail was incredible.

Around the corner was Green Tara by Allison Wilbur (U.S.) My phone doesn't do the colors justice.  The quilting was mind-blowing.

This was the "pervy" quilt with a black screen surrounding it, and a warning sign that parental discretion was advised - like anyone is going to take a pass on that!  I think J was a little disappointed by how tame it was. No idea who the artist was:

My favorite group if I had to pick by nationality were the Japanese quilts - I didn't get all the names/artists as these were the last we saw.

Let's Go Party by Keiko Ike

Cherry Blossoms In Full Bloom by Noriko Matsutou

My Favorite Town, New York by Natsumi Ohara

I actually can't be sure this one was Japanese, but I think it was:

Finally, while J did a little whining through most of the show, there were a couple of quilts that made her scream "meow" in the loudest most high-pitched voice ever - it was so disturbing I actually saw someone adjust their hearing aid.  So I think of these as the quilts that could break glass:

This was only my second quilt show, so I can't say with any authority how it stacks up, but it was a really inspirational morning!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Just Cuz

I am the youngest of four, each a year apart in age.  I was always a little risk averse; a little cautious. Certain siblings might have said a little cowardly.  On my sixth birthday, my brothers and sister told me that I was a big girl now, and I had to stand in the attic, in the dark, for one minute without screaming or crying.  Other big kids might have done something to make it creepier - not let me out, made spooky noises.  But I stood there quietly, and at the end of a minute they let me out and congratulated me on being "all grown up." No parent could have topped that gift.

Over the years I've confronted a lot of my fears: motorcycles, worms, souffles.  But I am still scared to fly with this child of mine - and all my relatives live 3,000 miles away.  I get it, you have to be prepared for six hours of suckiness and then it's over and you get to see your family, but I'm totally chicken.

Luckily I have family members who will still indulge me - the youngest, the scaredy-cat who still screams if you turn the lights off when I'm in the shower.  This summer I got visits from my sister and brother with their kids (that's right, they each flew, alone, with two).  I didn't realize how much fun it would be to see little J, the only child, interacting with her cousins. And can we just be honest and say that playing with 6-8 year olds is a relief after reading Night-Night Moon AGAIN?

I had so much fun with my bakers - there is one in each family, so it goes without saying that I challenged them to a Top-Chef bake off against each other.  That key lime tart I made awhile back was fairly straight-forward and allowed room for decorating where they could really show off their style, so first baker up was eight-year-old Amari. Strike a pose, girl.

Her older sis joined in for the decorating:

And the final products - how about those kiwi flowers?!

It was so fun to have these girls here - I especially love that they taught J to say "night night" whenever she sees someone falling asleep.  It became a game for her on a long drive to Vermont - one girl would start to drift off and she'd scream "NIE NIE!!!"  Now the whole neighborhood can hear us putting her to bed.

Next up was my sister with her two kids.  DJ, is the six-year-old baker in that family.  Here he is with his creations:

He hid his kiwi slices under the mounds of strawberries and raspberries for a mid-bite surprise.  And it may be that my sister and I got to the mini-tarts before he did, so we'll take credit for that mess. I loved his alternating raspberry/blueberry border.

While he baked, the girl cousins debated the merits of dump-trucks v. front loaders.

They are less than two years apart, and it was so cute to see them acting all sisterly in the twinsy shirts I made them:

Finally, DJ runs a lemonade stand during the summer with fruit picked from his Southern California backyard (why do I live in New England?) and requested an apron with separate pockets like a waiter apron for making change.  I'd found this lemon fabric at the Cambridge Quilt Shop,

so we whipped this up one afternoon:

Pose like you're serving!

It's been a great summer, but I know if I want some winter warmth I'm going to have to get on that plane.  Maybe Mr. Responsibly can watch J while I'm gone!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Winter Is Coming

Sorry, this isn't really about Game of Thrones, but I had to come up with a name for this mini quilt and "Winter is Coming" was all I could think of. I'm not the biggest GoT fan, although I love the girls' names:  Arya, Daenarys, Cersei, Sansa, Shae.  If J.K. Rowling had only named Hermione 'Arya,' I'd be constantly referring to Baby A instead of Baby J these days.

But back to the quilt.  The Lowell Quilt Festival is next weekend and the Boston Modern Quilt Guild was invited to display our quilts in the Appleton Mills Gallery.  And you were just wondering what you were going to do next weekend, right? My Orange Peel quilt ("Orange You Glad You Married Me") will be on display along with the mini, so come see them in person!

The Guild hosted a challenge - make a mini-quilt using this color palette:

I love these colors, though there's something a little gloomy (or North-of-the-Wallish) about them.  OK, I'll quit with Game of Throne references.  Anyway,  at the Cambridge Quilt Shop they had these really lovely ombre fabrics in exactly the right blue and gray.  In case you haven't noticed, ombre (the shading from light to dark) is a thing these days, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  

I think it started with Drew Barrymore's hair:

 Then the trend went on to color fingernails:

And even Jodi Arias's glasses during her trial:

Although I like them better on Michelle Chamuel.

And though I feel ambivalent about the trend,  it is pretty on these Moda fabrics:

Having just gotten back from Vermont, I still couldn't get that lake out of my head and decided to do a lake landscape, but more spare/modern than what you normally see.  Also, I've been avoiding free-motion quilting for so long I was ready to give it a shot and I figured keeping it simple would help with that (if you mess up on a simple top, it's not so tragic to start over). I started with my hill and windy sky:

The water I did freehand based on a piece I saw in a Japanese quilting book.  Not sharing that picture for copyright reasons.  Just kidding, not showing it because mine looks better when you don't compare it to perfection.

For the wind, I couldn't get this right freehand, so I chalk traced it and then followed the lines as carefully as I could.  Pretty inexact but I'm OK with it.

And here it is altogether:

I don't know how I feel about the red canoe; I like the splash of color but it seemed like I should embroider a person in it so people would know what it was. Mr. Responsibly's response to that was "Of course it's a canoe.  What are people going to think, there's a red banana in the lake?  And if you add a guy in the canoe then the whole thing becomes about the guy." Is that true?  And why is it floating untethered out there? I'm still undecided, maybe I'll add a person later - I'd be interested to know what people think about leaving it empty.

Here come the second wave of cousins - get ready for some baking!