Hydrangea Triple Irish Chain

HydrangeaTripleIrishChain
HydrangeaTripleIrishChain

It’s been a while!

Somehow, around February, I got a fresh breath. I’d been kind of unenthusiastic about quilting, but suddenly I spotted some fresh fabric, hydrangeas, which I love, from Keepsake Quilting. I ordered six yards and I knew I would repeat the lilac triple Irish chain I did while I was in Kuwait. It has become one of my favorite quilts, roomy, just the right size and weight to sleep under in the hot steamy Pensacola summer.

I’d forgotten how easy it is. Two blocks, one with the feature fabric, one with complimentary squares forming the chain, you just take the colors from the focus fabric. I’m still clipping off stray threads, but for the most part, it is finished, quilted, bound. Woo HOOOOO!

All of a sudden, I don’t seem to be able to link, oh arrgh, but if you want to see the Lilac Triple Irish, called Dancing Lilacs, you can find it in June 2007.

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

The Generous Heart

“A friend is going to Pensacola!” my Kuwaiti friend wrote to me, “What can I send you?”

My heart immediately went to my two favorite places, the supermarket and the fabric souks. Did you know it is illegal to bring in fresh green vegetables into the United States, or meat? (I brought some jerky once from South Africa and ended up with all the people who were bringing monkey brains and special Namibian melons to all their family members. Fortunately, I got a lecture, not a fine.)

So – just a little fabric, I asked. Something Kuwaiti looking, or African, colors in combinations you can’t get here in Pensacola.

“Doh!” as Homer Simpson says. I should have remembered how generous my friend is. It’s something she isn’t even aware of, she just gives, freely gives, like she thinks everyone is as generous as she is.

Her friends delivered the packet to my door. In it are yards and yards of fabrics, and as I lift them to my nose, I can smell the souks. . . I miss the souks 🙂

So much fabric, such a wealth of fabric!

00FabricKuwaitSouks

But even better – look at the bag she packed it in!

00EgyptForEgyptians

I asked her about it and it is a good thing I did. I had immediate thoughts of using it as a center medallion in a quilt, but she said it was designed by a famous Egyptian artist, Helmi El Touni, to raise funds for medical treatment for students and protestors injured during the Arab Spring. She also said she did not think the ink was water proof. Oooch! I needed to hear that! Now, it will not go into a quilt but maybe some kind of frame . . . I love those braids 🙂

I smile every time I see these fabrics.

Cindy Needham Workshops

In the midst of a crazy schedule full of house guests, I had signed up for two workshops with Cindy Needham, workshops I wanted to attend so badly that I abandoned my house guests to their own devices and attended.

00CNDemo

The first, on Antique Linens, showed many many ways of taking fragile old linens, cleaning them up, stabilizing them and underlining them to show them off to their best advantage. It was worth every minute.

The second workshop, another all day affair, was on Antique Feathers, but it was so much more. It was about creating heavily quilted backgrounds which allow the not-so-heavily quilted areas to pop out and catch the eye.

First, she gave us permission to make wonky feathers, and taught us several techniques for rescuing their wonkiness:

00PracticeFeathers

Cindy had prepared batts using silk duppioni and a wool batting for us to work with to see how different textures and weights affect our look (remember this is a workshop, so I am showing you my very imperfect results knowing that mistakes are how we grow!)

00SilkFeathersAndFiller

She gave us a lot of materials, and ideas for close quilting in the backgrounds using grids:

00Grid

A lot of times, you take a workshop and think “I spent a day of my time for this??” but I would take a Cindy Needham workshop again in a heartbeat. She taught more than I can absorb, gave us extra on extra, and I will have months of homework to even begin to master some of the techniques she taught. She is a GREAT instructor, and a lot of fun.

I told her if she ever gets an invitation to the Quilt Expo in Kuwait, to go! Kuwait would love her, and she would love Kuwait!

Kuwait Map Quilt

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There is a new Kuwait baby quickly approaching his birth date, and a baby for which a very special quilt needed to be made. His parents were instrumental in our having had such a good time in Kuwait. We were introduced by one of my Qatari friends who had spent time in Kuwait, and she was right – we were meant to be friends.

The first night we met, we started talking and never stopped. We explored restaurants together, strolled through the souks, and heard all kinds of stories of old Kuwait. Our time with them was – and is – priceless.

I like for a baby quilt to have legs – useful as a crawl pad, useful as a cover to sleep under, washable, washable, washable and in the end, able to be hung on the wall of an otherwish anonymous college dorm room. This one will do the trick, plus having lots and lots of patterns to keep a baby fascinated as he learns how to focus his eyes 🙂

I’d forgotten how much work a map quilt can be in the preparation stages. This relatively small quilt (60in x 60 inches until I washed it and it shrank about 2 inches in both directions; I’ve never had that happen before! It was noticeable!) has 900 pieces, and those 900 pieces had to include sea pieces, Kuwait pieces and Saudi and Iraq desert pieces (pale, pale, pale) Of course, there had to be a lot of variety.

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Seeking, planning and cutting took longer than assembly. The land portions are quilted in the ditch, a grid, and the Arabian Gulf segments have waves quilted in thin silver strands, so they glint like the sunlight on the Arabian Sea.

There are many many blocks made from fabric finds from the Kuwait souks, also a few with Kuwait memories. In Arabic, there are “sun” words and “moon words” so I found a sun and a moon. A family nearby us had a private zoo where, from time to time, a large cat would escape and put my village in a panic until it was recovered . . . so there is a large cat. In the end, this was one of the most fun and rewarding quilts I have made.

00SpecialBlocks

Friendship Star

When we lived in Doha the first time, Desert Storm started, and a lot of Americans left, I didn’t know anyone, and I had a lot of quilting time. I decided I would make a lot of half-square triangles so I would always be able to whip up a baby quilt in a very short time, and I spent days cutting the fabrics, stitching the half-square triangles, ironing, sorting . . .

I made a couple baby blankets, but I still have a lot of half square triangles left. We moved to Kuwait, and I put a quilt together that I could hand quilt at our Tuesday Stitch Group, where I always liked to have hand work to do when I didn’t have a binding that needed stitching on or something.

For all those weeks . . . I didn’t get a lot done. Finally, I machine quilted in the white squares, and then I did some practicing for some new techniques in the star centers. It doesn’t make a lot of sense thematically, but the quilt is done, I’m giving it away and I don’t have to think about it any more.

Finished! Out! Out!

African Dreams

I actually finished this quilt back in July, but it is a gift, and I didn’t want to take the chance of them seeing it before it was Christmas. They dream of going to Africa. It’s been a long time in the making; I started cutting for the quilt while I was still with the Q8Quilters, in Kuwait, gathered all the fabrics and pieces in the ubiquitous plastic bin, and hauled them to Qatar and then to Pensacola for more cutting and ultimately the piecing. This is one of those quilts that was a lot of fun to work on because I loved the fabrics so much.


(It looks lumpy because my trial wall hangs over my book/storage cases, and sometimes things from behind poke out and make the quilt bulge in some places)

Many of the fabrics are genuine fabrics I have found in Africa, have been given by people who lived in Africa, or were sold to me by Africans. Some batiks I found at a little shop in Edmonds, WA, where they sell objects made by African women as a means of supporting themselves. As I have less and less genuine African fabric left, the quilt pieces I use are smaller and smaller! I hate to waste a single fragment!

I tried some different kinds of quilting on this, and while it went together quickly and was fun to put together, at the end, you have all this bias edge and it is hard to make it all match up, or at least it was for me. I love the look, and one day I may try another, but I will be thinking how to avoid having that bias on the outside edges, hmmmmmmmm. . . . . (thinking)