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.

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Pink is Complicated

Same song, different year – I don’t have the hours to quilt that I once had. Retired husband. Trips to exotic lands. Grandchildren. My quilting time is eaten away.

I remember how with every new move there was, at the beginning,  a time of great loneliness, and quilting was my solace and my therapy. When I start to bemoan my lack of productivity, I also have to a ask myself if I want to go back to a life where I move often, and have to start over making new friends?

I miss the nomadic life. I miss the challenges, the demands for new ways of thinking, new ways to approach problems. And also, I don’t miss it. I don’t miss saying goodbyes to people I really love,  I don’t miss the selecting out and giving away and packing up, really hard physical labor.

A new baby girl is coming, and I wanted to do a quilt for her Mama, also starting a new life in Pensacola. I think about being a woman; some times I am more hopeful than other times. I wish this baby to have more options, more equality, and a strong spirit to face the challenges of being a woman. I chose a wonderful swirly batik pink, with a range of pink, from purples to pale, and then put in cross hatches in a very light pink and a very subtle purple. It’s complicated. Just like we are 🙂

 

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 🙂

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:

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Baby boy’s is called Interconnected:

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Each quilt is about 54″ square

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 🙂

Chained Islamic Stars

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While the previous quilt was just playing around, this quilt is the real thing. I’ve been involved with this quilt since I started quilting. I was so new! I made a lot of mistakes in my ambitiousness, and it took me about fourteen years to figure out how to get it right.

First, I designed it. I use graph paper when I am working out a design. I designed it and cut all the pieces. I pieced one and had a lot of trouble doing it. Then I moved to Saudi Arabia and all the pieces stayed in a box, which I would look through later as I moved again, to Germany, to Qatar and to Kuwait.

Upon my move back to Qatar, my angel friend who unpacked my quilt room because I was sick scolded me for all my unfinished projects and told me I had to finish them.

“Just make a list and do them,” she told me sternly, and every time I finish one, I think of her, and of her graciousness, her love of doing good for others.

So back the second time in Qatar, all my Qatar friends having zipped out for the summer, I pulled out the pieces and pieced the blocks. I was more experienced, more confidant, and the piecing went well. There were some problems, lots and lots of seam lines, like a pineapple quilt.

Several months ago . . . maybe a year ago (LOL) I made a back for it and sandwiched it. I still was at a loss as to how to quilt it, even after all these years. Finally, I said to myself “finished is better than perfect” and did diagonal lines. Then, taking a deep breath, I practiced some free form feathers on some practice battings, and then dove in. It went amazingly fast.

I did have to do a little picking out here and there, and re-doing. I’m still getting this feather-thing down, but I love feathers, and I love that once they are finished, most of the flaws disappear. After I washed the quilt and it shrank a little, the flaws were almost non-existentent.

So here is the irony. I love the quilt so much that I have re-graphed it in a more simple way and I think I will do it again in a bigger version. I guess I am just a glutton for punishment, but I love this pattern, complex fabrics, background so serene, so like Islamic tiles.

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!

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