Education for Ministry Quilt

I have a special mentor who led me through four years of theological discussions as part of a University of the South (Sewanee) School of Theology program. No, I am not a priest. This is ministry, as in how we live our faith, and . . . do we understand what we believe? Do we believe what we say we believe?

As you can imagine, this is exhausting and sometimes distressing. My mentor is a wise and humorous woman who led our groups fearlessly. Although I am still a part of the program now, in another capacity, I wanted to tell this mentor in a significant way what her mentoring and her fine example means to me.

I had a lot of fun with this quilt. I found a fabulous metallic batik, which had several different colors, so when I cut it into a kaleidoscope. I could make entire squares of different colors.

As usual with my kaleidoscopes, color placement was everything. I wanted the center cross to be the most important part of the quilt. I hand appliquΓ©d the two circles, padding the outermost with two layers of batting and hand embroidering the EfM on the cross, using an EfM lapel pin. Rarely have I been so happy with the entire process.

Except that I was terrified I would ruin it by quilting it. I have a friend with sterling instincts for quilting and she quilted it for me, using some metallic threads and enhancing the cross with radiating lines so the quilt almost vibrates with energy. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

Here you can see some of the metallics and some of my friend’s fabulous quilting:

 

Now it gets even cooler. I had ALMOST enough blocks left over (I always make extra blocks because I am really picky about placement) but I had some fabrics that would fill in and I could make another, smaller quilt for another EfM mentor who had encouraged me through some of the rougher parts and who had generously admired the first quilt. It thrilled me to be able to thank her, too, for her part in leading our group through the heavy weather of theology.

 

I wish you could see these quilts in person. I don’t usually brag, but these thrill my heart.

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Quilt for a Special Mentor

For the last four years, I have been taking part in a theological study program, guided by a very special woman who led us through Old Testament, New Testament, church history and an overview of theological thought.

I am so grateful for her patient leadership though the thorny grounds of theological thinking. She allowed for freedom to explore our doubts and new concepts. I made this quilt for her.

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I have a good friend who quilted the quilt for me. It’s a special quilt, so I wanted it to be more perfect than my quilting. I love the way she was able to make the cross radiate.

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I totally loved this fabric, the major fabric in the quilt. It shaded from turquoise to green to purple and pink and orange and red, and gave the quilt a movement that delighted my heart.

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My friend quilted the metallic sections with a metallic thread, brave friend! Her quilting was perfect for the design.

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36 Strip Challenge

My quilt group had a thirty-six strip challenge. Nine of us cut four strips each for nine quilters, including one set of themselves. At one of our meetings, we put together identical collections of thirty-six strips, and then we each plotted a quilt which would use each fabric.

It sounds easy. It isn’t.

The fabrics are not at all compatible.

I hesitated, I searched for inspiration, I planned and discarded. Finally, I just plunged in, and the idea didn’t work, but it gave me an idea for something that might work. This meandering approach was new for me; normally I use quad notebooks and plan my quilts to the fraction of an inch.

The big flower in the upper central right part of the quilt is where I started, and where I was able to use eight fabrics. From there, I would look at the panel hanging and the fabric strips remaining, and overnight, another idea would come.

I actually started having fun with the project. It took me all summer, but it was work I enjoyed, much of it hand work, which I haven’t done a lot of lately.

My husband loves the finished project. I don’t love it, but I’m not unhappy with it.

Purple Tiles

I’m still quilting this one, but what happens is that I quilt more to a deadline, and then I finish and it sails away with no documentation. This quilt I made from leftovers of another quilt that I realize I didn’t document. My husband loves these quilts; he says they remind him of the wonderful carpets we spent years buying in Damascus, Riyadh, Kuwait and Qatar.

The red tiles quilt is actually finished, and in use πŸ™‚ I discovered I had enough fabric left over for another set of tiles, slightly smaller, but this is an easy quilt, sort of stack and whack, but what wonderful tiles they make if you find a richly patterned fabric. I am a sucker for richly patterned fabrics, especially if they have a little bit of gold in them.

What surprises me is what a difference the background fabric makes. The burgundy gives it one look, the purple a totally different (in my humble opinion) look.

I have to say, some quilts you love working on. These were quilts I love working on.

Nothing Since August??

Yes, I have been quilting. I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since last August, except that life is different when you no longer live the nomadic life.

Once you settle, you . . . kind of have to grow up. Everything we never really wanted to do. It has its merits – spending time with grandchildren. Not having to pack up a household every few months or couple of years, and unpack it again, no more of those frequent long trips when you live overseas and someone in the US is sick, or dying. . . those are the good things.

For me, losing the nomadic life has meant losing all the time I had to quilt. When you go someplace new, it takes time to connect with your community, your husband works long hours, I always had quilting – and quilting had me. Now, we are more connected – church, family, commitments, obligations, freely made . . . it all takes time.

I started this quilt in November and finally finished it in February. It is for a good friend, a woman I admire so much. She saves cats. She finds abandoned cats, feral cats, traps and neuters them, and works valiantly to find them new homes. Her first cat is a gold cat, my favorite kind of cat; she says Lucy taught her about the world of cats needing homes. My friend creates a better world by her selflessness, giving her time and focus to caring for and re-homing these lovely creatures. She just found us two more, Ragnar and Uhtred, and I made the quilt to honor her.

I need to thank my friend Paramjeet, who made sure I had the self confidence and the skills to do the kind of intense quilting that goes into surface quilting. I had tried it previously once, and where I quilted intensely, I distorted the quilt. Oh arrrgh. This time, it worked out better.

Made from a quick design, and quilted in the red part with an adaptation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. That was fun πŸ™‚

This quilt is for a lady who works for me, and with whom I have become friends. She got to pick out the fabrics, and there were a lot of them. The challenge was figuring out how to make them all work together. It seems to have worked out; she loves the quilt. We both like African fabrics. Her favorite block is the one with the fabric from Ghana, it has green flowers and kind of jumps out of the quilt.

I forgot, there were also cat hammocks, and cat cage pads, and some cat coasters I also made. I am in the process of a series of quilts, those wonky star quilts, for this years charity project. I always end up loving them so much that I have a hard time giving them away πŸ™‚

Neuleiningen Grapes

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(around 90″ x 90″)

So many times we were stationed near this castle; you can see it at the top of the hill in the right upper corner. It is called Neuleiningen Castle, and has a wonderful restaurant called the Burgschaenke. Just writing about it, I can still smell the smoke from the huge fireplace that you smell lingering as you walk in, even if there isn’t a fire burning. In all the years we’ve been going there, the menu hasn’t changed that much. It is rustic elegance. You can go there, have great wines, have a great meal, have a great dessert, you can spend hours there and at the end, you hate to leave, it is such a wonderful, fun, atmospheric restaurant.

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This is one of my earliest quilts. I had an idea about making a lot of different colored grapes with snowball-like blocks; I used corners I had cut off half-square triangles I was making for something else and just cobbled together rural looking fabrics to make the grapevine fields and plowed fields on the long slope leading up to the castle.

This area has some of the finest white wines, icy and dry, I have ever tasted. They live in my memory.

I finally finished the quilt, years and years after it was conceived. What held me up? I never could figure out what to do with the big borders I had put on it; I kept trying to do grape bunches but the chalk would wear off, it just never worked. Finally, I just figured “finished is better than great” (and it had been like 12 years since I started it) so I did straight rows, thinking it is a lot like furrows, so in touch with the feeling of the quilt. Whatever – it works. The quilt is finished. My husband loves it, and we really need a trip back to Neuleiningen and the Burgschaenke πŸ™‚

Lemonade

I made a quilt I loved, but I tried a new technique, I stitch-painted a section of a quilt to get the arm quilted, but also I wanted it to look realistic. I succeeded, I loved the look, but, horror of horrors, it distorted the quilt top. I mean really badly, it drew up the fabric tightly, so that around it, the fabric sagged.

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It was truly horrible.

I had also used really expensive fabric, fabric I bought from a historical reproduction producer at the World Quilt Show in Holland in 2003 or so, fabric I can’t replace.

I obsessed over how to fix it, and finally, I cut it up. My friends gasped in horror, but the truth is, it couldn’t be fixed.

I have saved the pieces, the arms I love, the pomegranate. I have some fabric left, and one day, maybe even one day soon, I will give it another try. I loved the idea. I had great fun working with transparent and translucent fabrics, and oh my, as much as I hate snakes, I loved working on this one; the fabric just made him so tempting and sparkly and I thought how perfectly analogous it is, that the symbol for the embodiment of sin is a snake and that the snake could look so alluring. If it’s not alluring, it’s not temptation, right?

The snake is gone, most of the snake, but a part of him I rescued, and he protects my iPad, which I also love in a metaphorical kind of way, as the gateway to the Internet can lead to good or to evil, depending on your choices and whether you can resist the allure of temptation. He is a reminder, with his open mouth, ready to strike, and his thin, venomous teeth, to monitor myself, my choices . . . And I do like it that he has been redeemed from a quilt that was a terrible failure πŸ™‚

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(For my foreign quilting friends unfamiliar with American idioms and adages, the title is based on an old saying “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”)