“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Star at the End of Times

The Pensacola Quilt Guild had a challenge, and I entered. The challenge was a lot of fun; they had a 5″ square of fabric, and you could make any quilt you wanted as long as you used ONLY colors from that square (you could not use the square itself), the quilt had to be 36 – 40″, and somewhere in the quilt had to be a square within a square.

The majority of the colors were rusts and reds, colors I don’t much like working with, but a friend from Bible study took me to a fabric store I didn’t even know existed – A & E Pharmacy (LOL, who would know from the name that they have all the newest fabrics). While there, I found inspiration, the rust/red/orange strips, and from there . . . I just had fun. I love the parroty blue green, and I love purples, and I needed practice working that zigzag quilting, especially using metallic thread, so I didn’t worry about winning, I just had fun. When I finished, I loved the quilt – mostly I do nap size or bigger, so a hanging size is a novelty for me.

Couldn’t show you before the unveiling at the challenge (well, I showed my friends in Kuwait) but here it is now:

I don’t always do challenges, but I try; they help me get out of my comfort zone and give me permission to try new things, new colors, new combinations, new techniques. I feel like a winner for having competed, even if I didn’t win anything with it. 🙂

Lenten Cross

I’ve been thinking our church needed a new hanging for Lent. We meet in the basement of a church that is not our own, and we don’t have a lot of things to make it our own. Lent this year is particularly somber, and as I am experimenting with low contrast (because I really love high contrast and I need to challenge myself) I envisioned a lighter purple with texture on a darker purple.

I went straight home from church, pulled out the fabrics and started cutting. After I got the main parts assembled, I needed to let it hang a little bit so I could percolate how I was going to finish it.

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The lighter purple is an Italian textured silk I just love. The center is cut from quilter’s plastic, covered with the darker purple and then with the silver fishnet, an effect I just love and reflects Kuwait’s fishing and pearling history.

The priest blessed the cross today, and it can be hung tomorrow.

Church Banner: Nestorian Cross

Our priest asked me to create a banner for the church, and provided some examples of a Nestorian cross, examples of which have been found in the Gulf, and since our church is a church in the Gulf, he thought it would be fitting.

I really wrestled with it for over a year. I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Finally, I threw up my hands, prayed for God to use my hands, and just got started. Honestly, I had no idea when I began how it would finish up.

I started by drafting a very large circle on freezerpaper. I found a piece of fabric that made my heart sing for the background – a sea-life batik, and it was perfect for Kuwait, with the ancient traditions of fishing and pearling. I added a layer of net that catches the light here and there, like the sparkle of the sun on the waves.

Then, I segmented the circle, and gathered up all my neutral silks and beaded and embroidered neutrals, hoping to get a stone mosaic effect for the circle around the cross, and I liked the effect so much, I decided to mosaic the cross, too, to get a more elemental and carved feeling.

While in the original, the circle around the cross comes out from the cross, in my version, the circle is separate.

For something that took me so long . . . meaning the thinking about it took so long – I actually had a lot of fun when I started working on it.

For me, the richness and textures of the fabrics bring to mind the richness and infinite variety of the population here, the rich brew that develops when cultures cross, mix, trans-pollinate – isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing?

Elephant Temple Sari Quilted

Every now and then you take a risk. I was with people buying sari fabric at the LuLu Hypermarche in Doha, which, surprisingly, had a very good sari selecton, from the lower prices to the exquisite. My house guests loved going to the LuLu, and several bought sari fabrics at the LuLu dealer upstairs.

One time the salesman brought out sari fabric I had never seen before and never seen anything like it before – it was a creamy white, hand loomed, with gold metallic embellishments and weaving through it. At the end, where the fanciest part of the sari is, was a temple scene, all in gold and cream except for a row of umbrellas. The unbrellas were over elephant heads.

My Indian friends have told me it is an annual festival, held around February, in India where there are both elephants and unbrellas featured at one particular and very special temple. How totally fabulous is that?

I bought the fabric, I couldn’t resist. I have used all the lengths of creamy hand-woven fabric in countless ways, and the gold/cream trip of the sides was even in the Bride’s Bag, but the end – I sandwiched it and hand quilted it, and I use it as a wall hanging in my guest room. It never fails to give me joy with it’s serene, elegant and joyful colors.

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