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 🙂

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 🙂

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Colors of Kuwait: A Quilt Series

It all started with a conversation about a baby quilt. My sweet young Kuwait friend is having a baby, and I asked her what she thought about a quilt in ‘the colors of Kuwait’. “What colors of Kuwait?” she responded. “When I think of Kuwait, I think of black and white.”

That got me started. I found Kuwait rich in color. I never knew the desert could be so flat, and that in the beige-y-ness, there could be so many variations. All the flat white-to-beige-to-grey and a thousand variations, and with such a neutral background, any color at all made a splash. I thought of how very green a palm tree looked against the flat beige hard-packed soil, how a turquoise dome stood out; I thought of the colors in the souks, and oh, the colors of the Arabian Gulf.

I knew exactly how I wanted to proceed for her baby, but I also thought of her, a reader, a Kuwaiti now living in a cold country. I thought she also needed a quilt, a quilt big enough to wrap her and her two little boys as they read stories on a cold winter’s day.

I decided to do another Wild Stars series, use the best Kuwait colored blocks for her new baby and use the leftover blocks for a children’s charity my small quilting group has identified for the coming year.

Note to self: No. No, you cannot cut through 25 layers of cloth. You were mistaken. You can cut through 13, but not 25. So, good! Learned a lesson right off the top!

This time, by piecing every square exactly the same way, they all came out around 15 1/2 inches. I had to add a thin strip to two squares, but out of 25, that’s not bad.

Loved the color combinations, how they came together, and loved them so much I used the same fabrics for my friend’s quilt, with a little of the Gulf thrown in. This is the quilt for my friend, a Kaleidoscope of Kuwait colors, which came out to be about 65″ x 65″:

00ColorsOfKuwait

For her new son, Colors of Kuwait in wild stars:
00ColorsOfKuwaitAziz

Squares made with leftover blocks:
00ColorsOfKuwaitSquare1

00ColorsOfKuwaitSquare2

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Last quilt, a rectangle, still 32″ x 46:
00ColorsOfKuwaitRectangle

A Quilt for Naomi

My sweet little grand-daughter has arrived! Her quilt is ready!

When my husband saw it, he said, with an undeniable note of dismay in his voice “But that doesn’t look like a baby quilt!”

It doesn’t, if you think baby quilts have to look babyish. If you think they have to be all pink, or blue, or pastel yellow or green, or have little animals on them.

Babies love black and white. They love the patterns; black and white can mesmerize a baby. I wanted the quilt to be big enough and sophisticated enough that she could crawl on it as a baby and take it with her to college. I am happy with this quilt!

00NaomisQuilt

Gift Kaleidoscope in Sea Colors

I am in the process of finishing up a number of quilts – not all, I still have a disgraceful number of quilts to be finished, many of which have been waiting more than ten years – oh no!

I have discovered I really love the look when the four corners that meet are all one color, forming one block; to me, it helps the flow into that swirling, interconnecting flow of sort-of-circles.

00Jan2013Kaleidoscope

This isn’t really finished, but I wanted to get it this far so I would have something for our upcoming “quiet day” for our bee. No class, no business, just handwork, chatting and having fun. 🙂

When I make a sea-color kaleidoscope, I often make double – or more – the blocks I need. Now I am using up some of those unused blocks to make up some gift quilts – you know, you never know when you are going to need to give away a quilt. I have a pretty good idea who this one is for . . .

Kaleidoscope Transition Blocks

I love Kaleidoscope quilts (as you can see on this blog 🙂 ) and I particularly love ‘colors of the sea’ Kaleidoscopes because I think they capture – in a small way – the shifts and swirls of sea water. Having said that, the best one I made was the first one I made, and since then, I haven’t been so happy.

I have a whole bunch of sea blocks, and I’ve had them up on my project wall forever, trying to figure out why they weren’t working for me. One day, I was almost ready to put them together, and I got the big AHA.

It’s the transition blocks.

In my first quilt, I made a mistake, but I made it on purpose. Instead of making the corner blocks contrast, I made all the corners meeting together the same color. It takes more work, and it is slow and painstaking work, but – to me – what a difference.

A quilt with contrasting corner blocks (meaning the corner of each Kaleidoscope block):

A close up of contrasting corner blocks where they meet:

And now, the newest top, with all the corner blocks meeting up with the same color. To me, it makes a smoother transition, to me, it helps capture the swirling motion I am seeking:

I know this is all very personal, my preference may not be your preference. What do you think; do you think it makes a difference?

Under The Sea / Colors of the Sea 2

I made my Mom a quilt around ten years ago, and my middle sister has told me several times since then that she wants one like it. I started cutting this one out while I was still in Doha, finished cutting, piecing, sandwiching and quilting here in Pensacola.

My Mom’s quilt:

It isn’t the same. No two quilts are ever the same. When I was back in Seattle, I took a look at the first quilt and saw that I had made all four corner pieces match where they came together, something I have never done since. I think/thought that the contrast in light and dark in the corner pieces helped the movement of the quilt, but I may have to rethink that. I have a large collection of ‘colors of the sea’ fabrics; when I see them, I can’t resist them. I wonder if I can use them up in my lifetime?

Several of the fabrics are from a hand-dye class I took in Kuwait, lovely Diana Hill, and I am still using up my hand dyes – and those of others – as I piece these quilts. Such wonderful, laughter-filled memories!

This is a larger quilt, large enough to cover a double bed but probably not large enough for two people to sleep under unless they are young and in love, LOL.

Can you see the fish I hand appliqued in the photo above? I wanted them to blend with their background, just as real fish do when you spot them in their habitat.

This school of fish (and the others) are from a wonderful fabric I bought in Doha, and from which my Doha Fish Quilt was made. I am a strange woman; I actually love to applique.

I gave the quilt to my niece to put on my sister’s bed, at their Seattle home. I am betting she doesn’t check this blog, so she will have a big surprise when she sees it. I bet she forgot she even asked for it. 🙂

VIQ (Very Important Quilt)

The problem with a very important quilt is that you can over think. I know what I want a baby quilt to be – I want it to be colorful. I want it to be lovable. I want it to be big enough to go to pre-school and kindergarten for nap time. I want it to end up a beloved rag, dragged here and there, washed innumerable times, all used up.

I’ve probably made a hundred baby quilts. But when it came to a quilt for my first grandchild, I dithered. Nothing I could come up with was good enough. Finally, I had to give myself a good talking to, “JUST GET STARTED!” I yelled at myself in a figurative way. Just do it.

It’s an OK quilt. Not the best effort I have ever put forth, but I came to the conclusion – it’s not the quilt that is important, but the recipient. God willing, he will love it because it came from me, and because I am a safe place, a place he can count on for unconditional love.

So – it’s just a quilt. For a very important Quentin! 🙂