“Not Cheetos! Cheetah!”

Five years old is such a wonderful age, and my five year old grandson asked me if I would make him a Cheetah quilt. “Cheetos?” I asked. “I think it will be really hard to find fabric with Cheetos on it.”

“No! Not Cheetos! Cheetah!” he screamed! We went through this same conversation several times for months, while I sought out the right fabrics.

I had a wonderful piece I had bought in the airport in Lusaka, but it didn’t have a Cheetah, it had a Leopard, and I knew he would know the difference.

And I did have a beautiful, sort of sepia tone Cheetah panel, but how to integrate them? Finally, I used the Big Five panel for the back, and the cheetah panel, and a lot of leftovers from previous African quilts, on the front. I put loops at the top so it can be used as a quilt or used as a hanging, and hung with either side showing.

He loves the quilt. Right now it is on his bed.

CheetahQuilt

CheetahQuiltBack

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

00ColorsOfKuwaitSquare3

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

Maze or InterConnected Circles

00InterlockingCircles

I made this quilt months ago. It looked complex, and I wanted a challenge. Once I saw how to do it, I went ahead, but this is one of the most tedious quilts I have ever made.

Mostly, it is tedious because it is repetitious. Half the squares are snowballs, half with one color, half with the other.

All the alternating blocks are exactly alike, just given a quarter turn so that on alternate rows all one color is on top and on the others, the other color.

Once you get through the endless putting together of the same squares, assembly goes quickly.

I used this quilt to practice feathers 🙂

Big yawn. I thought I would do it in a garden print with garden-y white and green circles, sort of like a lattice work. If I were to do it again – which I won’t, because it bored me to tears – I would do it with a stronger background print.

Note: A lot of people love this quilt. That’s fine with me; my objection is only that once you know the trick (it’s all an optical illusion) it just isn’t that interesting to make, for me.

The Road To Damascus

This is another of my playing around quilts. In order to do Annie’s quilt, I had to do a lot of squares. You really have be careful about gradations to make these quilts work, or at least work for me. I like things to shade from dark to light and from the purple reds to the lightest ash for desert quilts. As a result, I had a quilt’s worth of four patches left over, and a great idea for a Road to Damascus 🙂

 

As I worked on this quilt, I was listening to National Public Radio coverage of Syria, a place we have been blessed to visit often and thoroughly. While I cannot help but love Damascus the best, and visited it last in 2008, I have travelled Syria from the coastal city of Tartush to Palmyra and Tell Mari in the east, and all kinds of places in between with a Friends of Archaeology group I used to belong to out of Amman, Jordan. Syria was as close to biblical country as I have ever experienced. I learned so much. I met the nicest Syrians in the world.
 

So I finished the main part, and then as I showed it in my small group, the demo for the day was on curved piecing. I had seen demos on it before and it hadn’t interested me, but all of a sudden, Leni was demo’ing with two desert-y colors and the light went on – I could do a great curved border.

00RoadToDamascus
 

Once I got started, the curved part was easy, like it took one half day. I had not accounted for how much more curves take out of the finished border, and I wanted more, like a purple dusk sky .  . . So I added that, too. Then I got bit by the nostalgia bug and I thought it would be fun to add some little villages, like we would pass along the roads. Well, impressions of those little villages; I am not a good person for portraying realism, but I like the charm of my little villages.

Note to self: curved borders are not such a good place to learn about curved piecing. Start with curved blocks, and give yourself extra fabric if you already have a set block size in mind. Because of the nature of curves, piecing curves results – at least for me – in sections that are off square. I love the piece of fabric I used as a final border, but it was driven less by art than by necessity – I had to have enough border and I needed to be able to trim so that the borders would be true. Curved pieces worked here, but I wouldn’t use them as a border again.

00CurvedBorder

00VillageScene

MosqueBorder

This little piece is not from Damascus, or Syria, but is a quirky tower erected by the Qatar Center for the Presentation of Islam, in Doha. I never studied in this tower, but what Arabic I speak, I owe primarily to them and their patience with me as I struggled to speak, read and write in their language. As they taught me more about the Quran, and Islam, it illuminated our own Christian teachings. This was a never-ending wonder to me. These kind women did not proselytize, but they shared their lives with me, and through their eyes, I came to understand so much. This little tower is just a small homage to their patient teaching.

00QCPITower

Umm Al Tawaman (Mother of Twins)

Even as I write, my niece is in labor, about to give birth to TWINS. We are all wild and dancing for joy! I reminded her she will now have to use the dual form in Arabic, and she groaned. Such are the jokes we tell one another in my family.

Baby girl’s quilt is called Desert Rose:

00TwinGirlQuilt

Baby boy’s is called Interconnected:

00TwinBoyQuilt

Each quilt is about 54″ square

Comfort Quilt

This is a quilt made for a friend whose husband is suffering a relapse. She is strong in her faith, and at the same time, it is hard to watch a loved-one suffer, especially someone you’ve lived with for a long time. I made a quilt that can be used for reading, or for chemo, or for whatever. It is a quilt that can be washed, and washed, until it is a rag. It is a quilt meant to be used, very simple pattern, 9-patch alternating with a focus fabric (my friend is a birder)

00ComfortQuilt

Neuleiningen Grapes

00GermanyGrapes

(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.

00NeuLeiningenGrapes

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 🙂