Inspirations and gratitude

So I know you all want to know about the workshop I attended yesterday.    It was wonderful.   Paula Nadlestern,  ( in the black )   was so informative and entertaining that most of us didn’t even mind doing some drafting,   she informed us afterwards that we  had just done trigonometry.    If it had been this great to look at in High School,  or if I even knew it could apply to something I want to do I guess I would have paid more attention.      At any rate, after the drafting and trig got us to our 60/30 triangle templates it was time for lunch and then to play with our fabrics.  IMG_2365

As you saw in the purple quilt I posted last week,  I have loved this work for a long time.    I brought that quilt with me to show Paula, and she graciously signed her name on the label for me.   I was so happy to be able to thank her in person.   Her work has had a big influence on how I use fabrics and perhaps it was this feeling that contributed to me being quite timid about making the final choices before cutting into my fabrics.       Those of you who know me will recognize just how unusual that is.    I did however finally make some decisions and cut pieces.  I got them put together just in time to finish my block at the workshop.

I am not posting it until I make a few more but I do have some other inspirations to share that Paula had with her.

We did a block called 60/30,  a Kaleidoscope variation where you have two different wedge sizes.  The green/purple below is an amazing example using just two fabrics and a field of blocks cut all the same way.   These are about 4 inch bloIMG_2359cks.   In the bottom picture you can see how they fit into the design of the quilt as a whole.    This super dense piecing was just amazing and one after the other we got close to it and had to feel the seam intersections to confirm that it wasn’t just printed that way,   she does design fabric after all.  

You can also see that she uses very simple straight line quilting, just vertical in this case, less than a quarter inch apart, but not measured and perfect.  Combined with very thin batting it gave a nice overall texture without competing with IMG_2360the dense pattern work.

I got so engrossed I totally forgot to check my phone for messages from my husband and daughter.   She has finished her first year of college and yesterday was the day to undo the dorm room, get it all in the huge suburban that got rented for the purpose,  and get it all home for the summer.   Her school is about 5 hours from home so it was a big day,  but everyone is now home and getting settled again.

As for me,  I will be processing all the inspirations from yesterday for a while.    I have a few projects that have to be done before I work on yesterdays project,  but my brain and notebooks are full of new ideas.

Before I close this post,  I need to remind you that Crazy Quilt Club is tomorrow,  but then the shoppe will be closed the following two Saturdays,  May 25th and June 1 for some family events that I cannot miss.   This makes our next BOM meeting on June 8.   And we are excited to let you know that our Chair Yoga for Stitchers will be on Saturday June 22nd, at 1 pm.   $10.00 per person.   Please let me know you are coming so I have the chairs set up for you.    If the turnout is good we may have this a regular part of our offerings.    Happy Stitching!!

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The Someday List

So last week I mentioned the Someday List.   This is the set of projects you want to get to someday.   I know we all have them,  that pattern and fabrics,  that kit that you picked up at the Show because you love it,  and it’s sitting there waiting for you.   Or it is that pattern that makes your heart flutter every time you see one,  but you think it is too hard for you.     For the first category,  the key is remembering it is there for you and working on it.   A frequent and regular sewing habit can get those projects done while the fabrics you used are still in print.   Even 15 minutes every odd numbered day can get through projects that have been waiting for years.    Most of us can probably find 15 minutes on a regular basis.   Consider it part of your self care routine.       Let me also say that having an actual written list of these projects someplace in a notebook or on a computer means that you get the satisfaction of not only finishing the project,  but crossing it off the list.   You are less likely to forget you bought it if you write it down too.

The second category of the someday list is a bit trickier because it takes you out of your comfort zone.    These are the projects you need to work up to, to learn a new skill,  or increase precision to a high level to complete.    Honestly here too a regular sewing practice can increase your skill level, but often we need help.   Quilting is a game of precision, and small details.    You can learn a great deal from magazines, books and videos,  but nothing compares with working with another actual person who can teach you.     It is why I still take classes once in a while with people whose work I like.   Even if I have made things from their books,  there is no substitute for in person interactions.

Thanks Paula

Thank you Paula   from 2002

This is why I am so excited to finally take a workshop with Paula Nadelstern this coming Thursday.   The Shoppe will be closed so I can take this day for professional development.    The purple quilt above was done in 2002,  using her first kaleidoscope book   and I sewed the complex parts by hand.   I worked very hard to figure out what I was doing and I love the result still,  but I know that there were subtleties I missed.     I have a stash of fabrics from many years that I have been saving to do exactly this,  I just hope I can find them before Thursday.    IMG_2341

I will also be closing at 2 pm tomorrow so I can attend my husbands art opening in Northport Long Island.   It is rare that he has one local enough for me to attend so it will be a rare treat.

Enjoy the red tulips.  Rain made them come in tall and beautiful but rain also is making them droopy.   The pictures will last longer.


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Pencil it in

Most productivity experts agree that keeping and using a calendar of some sort can help productivity in your work life.   I agree, I would be lost without my trusty date book, and yes I use a paper one every year.    But did you know that most self help guru types also suggest scheduling in the time for self care regularly.    For most of you reading this, that includes putting your quilting and stitching time on the calendar.   Whether it is an artists date like Julia Cameron suggests once a month,  or a weekly visit to our Work in Progress Wednesday,  or for the lucky ones daily time in your creative space at home,  getting it scheduled can translate to lots of great work done,  and more time to make all the projects on your list.   ( I’ll talk about the someday list in another post )  I can say all this because I have experienced it,  and I have seen it work for customers too.    The photos below are all projects from one person,  who has been coming to WIP Wednesdays and sewing at home almost daily.    These are the projects she has finished this year.    Given, one was a UFO from another store’s BOM program ten years ago but still.    These are big quilts, and a huge amount of work done,   and we are only in the first quarter of the year.    Way to Go!!!!!


Thousand pyramids


Facts and Fabrications


Detail of binding and quilting 

So I think it is a good idea to keep your calendars handy.    May is full of all sorts of events that need to be penciled in.     Tomorrow is the BOM meeting, but next Saturday we will be closing at 2 so I can go to my husbands Art Opening.  The 14th is Handstichers Club, new info is on the club page regarding the next project.   We will be closed on Thursday the 16th so I can attend a workshop with Paula Nadlestern.   Crazy Quilt Club is on the 18th,   and on the 25th we will be closed  again so I can attend my nieces wedding.    How’s that for a list of things that need to be penciled in?


Patriots in Petticoats 

One last item to get on the schedule,  the exhibition of the Gilson Quilt I have been working on opens on Friday May 24th at 11:30 am in the Historic Red Hook Annex on Cherry Street.       See  you soon!!!!

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Despite the rainy day today I am all about bright colors and gardens and plants.    I have been working on the Gilson Quilt.   Alexander Gilson was born at Montgomery place as a slave. He worked there as a gardener and after emancipation became the head gardener.   Eventually he moved to Barrytown,  opening a greenhouse and developing several new varieties of begonia and coleus that bear his name.   He, his wife and daughter are buried in the small cemetery on Cherry St.  ( behind CVS )   The Red Hook Historical Society and Bard College have organized Gilson-fest,   for this Memorial Day weekend.  This joint effort will be the inaugural exhibition of the new annex space for the Historical society.      It has been a great project so far,  but I am scrambling to get it done by hanging day.


Piecing for the Gilson Quilt in progress



Montgomery Place- Glison Quilt

This brings me to my subject today,   an ounce of prevention.   When a deadline looms and you are madly quilting away to get it done in time for the baby,  the wedding,  or any other deadline,  it is critical to beware of repetitive stress.   Use good posture,  good lighting,   and get up and stretch every 45 minutes or so.     Experts also say that you should focus your eyes on something far away for a few moments.   The exercise that I keep hearing is to count the leaves on a tree out the window.    Try to get to 50.     If you need things like support for your back or wrists use it.      I have been working on the embroideries for the Gilson Quilt all week, and I can tell you that my hands are tired.  I can feel it all the way up into my shoulder if I don’t move in a new way frequently.

Since I have had back issues most of my life I am sensitive to ergonomics and have spoken with many professionals about using safe and sustainable practices to do my work.    I have found over many years that practices like Yoga and Tai Chi are very beneficial.    They are good for stresses in other areas of life too,  but the concern here is with quilters issues.    I have long wanted to find a person who could work with us here at the Shoppe to do a program of very simple yoga or stretching designed especially for the kinds of issue that stitchers develop,  and I am very pleased to let you know that I have finally found her.    We are working to bring you a one hour program in June.    If you are interested we can take names now for a list, because if it goes well we shall make it repeat for the summer.     I even have a yoga mat carrier pattern that we can do as a workshop.    ( our program is Chair yoga,  so you wont really need the mat but why not make the bag anyway?? )    I will keep you posted on the details as we work them out.

Don’t forget that May 4 is our next meeting for the Alaska BOM.   I hope that everyone has their blocks done.   I am here if you need assistance,  and there is always work in progress Wednesday if you need a nudge.



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What’s behind it all?

I know this could be a profound question,  but I am thinking a little more straightforwardly than that this morning.     The trees across the street are blooming and I am thankful for the stunning view as I work diligently on the many projects I have going.    What a great blue sky day.   Warm, even the air smelled like spring.  IMG_2311

SO  then on Wednesday at the Guild meeting the speaker had a lovely trunk show, and in several instances showed the same quilt pattern made in two different colorways,  and in a few cases, two different sizes too.      The next day,  my view changed with the weather and I realized that it was a perfect real life way to show you how much difference the change of a background can make.   SO here is the overcast photograph.IMG_2313











The only real difference is that the sky is white.   So next time you have a plain white background by default,  take a moment to consider choosing a more dynamic background.

I want to also update you on the quilt I talked about last week,   I consulted Bill Volkening, quilt collector and historian,  and he had a full album of quilts like it,  from Badalang,  China,near Beijing,  made in the last 20 years or so for the tourist trade.     That does explain the pandas.

I am excited for the summer showcase,  all about dolls.   We will be including real dolls, their things,  and even Sunbonnet Sue!!  How many of us learned to sew by making things for our dolls?   We are never too old to enjoy them.  Watch over the next few weeks as the details get finalized.

Tomorrow is Crazy Quilt Club,  and of course Sunday is Easter,  I wish the very best to you and yours.    May your spring be full of blue skies!!!

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Mystery Quilt of a different kind

I have a quilt in the shoppe for  a few days now that is one of a kind as far as I can tell.   The customer who brought it in says it was given to her organization as a donation and they wanted to know more about it before deciding what to do with it.    Of course there was no information at all.    Now most of the time I can pretty much tell right away the basics,  when and sometimes where it may have been made,  style, any content that might be significant,  even answer the How did they do that question.    I’ve seen plenty of quilts in person and more in photos and enjoy being able to inform the owners about their quilt.    This one has me questioning.


Mystery Quilt front

So this is the front.   The round embroideries appear to me to be South American, and  the colors of the folded patchwork support this thought.   But pandas?  and upside down dragons?   And that poor panda at the bottom has an arm and leg detached from it’s body.     The black frogs are pockets.    Very odd.    The fabrics are all kinds, even some with metallic threads,  rip stop nylon,  some might even be gro-grain ribbon.    There is paper inside this quilt,  you can feel it crinkling,  and in a small space where there was a loose seam,  said paper seems to be a lightweight brown craft type.   ( Like you might use in packing ) It is all very strange.   The skill with which the folding was done varies throughout.     As I am wondering about all of this,  the owner turns it over and there are only more questions.


Mystery Quilt Back

SO this is the other side.  Once again it looks South American to me,  but what are those critters?   Are they spiders?  snakes?  Do they all have wings or is it just decoration?  some appear to have feelers.   They are stuffed hard,  so this was not a quilt to be used as a covering.    All the critters are hand stitched,  many from knit fabrics and all of this embroidery was done by hand with varying skill levels.  The patchwork is improvisational but does follow a plan.     I wonder at the idea of putting all this work into the back of a textile.    The dark blue that covers the edges and frames it all is done  unevenly and I can’t help the feeling that whoever did it just didn’t have a working knowledge of how to work with fabrics in this way.   There seems to be some minimal batting/stuffing in a few places, but not throughout the quilt, and it does not appear to be quilted or tied in any way.



Here’s a few closeups of each side.    If you have any ideas about this one I’d love to hear them.

We have regular hours this week even though the local schools are on break,  and Saturday the 20th is Crazy Quilt Club.   I am hoping that some of my quilters who work in the school system can join us Wednesday for WIP Wednesday.     I might still have this Mystery quilt in shoppe so you could see it in person.




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UFO sightings?

Twice this week I had discussions with customers regarding the best way to keep making progress on their projects.    My first suggestion is come to Work in Progress Wednesday and I can help keep you on track and motivated.     The second suggestion is to keep your UFO where you can see it.   If you have a dedicated sewing space leave it set up so you can just go there and grab a few minutes each day to do some little bit on it.    If you don’t have that space,  leave the bag, box or basket that holds it in a place where you have to walk around it once in a while.     The idea is that out of sight is out of mind.    I think that this idea is why creative types are frequently a bit messy and look disorganized.    When there are many projects going and all of them are purposefully left out where they can be seen,  staying neat and tidy gets to be challenging.    That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

AlaskaMy most current UFO project is the sample for Alaska,  the BOM that begins tomorrow.   I had hoped to have the entire top finished but that is just not going to happen.   I am a little more than half way there and it is going very nicely.      I will be updating the Alaska page here with in process photos for the April blocks later today.     If you are doing this one please make use of them as a resource.


This coming Tuesday is Hand stitchers Club.    We will hopefully finish the Blackwork bookmark and choose our next project.    We will be choosing between two nice projects that will make for a pleasant spring and summer stitching experience.     I would like to remind you all that the club is open to everyone regardless of experience,  and that you do not have to be doing the same project as the group.      The stumpwork club will continue on Henry our little teddy bear.

See you all soon.

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