Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spring and New Quilts: Busting Out All Over

Spring is a challenge for quilters who are also gardeners, because this lovely season presents new chores along with its joys.

One of the joys is this Harlequin Honeysuckle, Lonicera Sempervirens Harlequin, purchased through a gift from my West Hartford neighbors on the death of my sister, Jeanne, at age 58 from complications of a heart transplant.  Jeanne's personality shared equal parts vitality, drama, humor, and hysteria, and so I chose this honeysuckle because its exuberantly variegated leaves and multicolored flowers remind me of her.

One of the chores presented by this softest of seasons is maintaining the plantings and recording the progress of the garden across the weeks.  For example, the beautiful purple pansies in the top image are nearing the end of their service as spring annuals, and will soon be replaced.  Meanwhile, the summer annuals are waiting in the wings until I have a chance to pay attention to them.

Time for gardening is a little short right now.  I've been getting ready for a couple of quilt shows.  For example, I spent a few weeks creating the two pieces below.

Spring Rain

Frost and Flame
These two quilts were created for entry into a show to which I was invited by my friend, quilter EdJohnetta Miller, to be held at Hartford's Charter Oak Cultural Center.  They're both convergence quilts, constructed according to a technique created and named by quilter Ricky Tims.

Then too, I'm also getting ready for an upcoming show at Stamford's Bartlett Arboretum, along with my friends from the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective.  More, much more, about that show later, but meanwhile, the creation goes on: Here are Queen Anne's Lace and Secrets of the Cabbage Patch, both created for that show, which will be hung on Friday May 31:

Queen Anne's Lace is constructed from my own hand-painted fabric and stenciled with acrylic craft paint.  Along the right side are photos of a field of Queen Anne's Lace in full bloom.
"What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have never been discovered."--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Secrets of the Cabbage Patch consists of 9 log cabin squares, each embellished with a knitted cabbage, and under each cabbage, well, a secret.

Can you guess the secret?  Do you see a little foot peeking out?

So, I'm loving every minute of this season and its exhilarating set of challenges for quilters who also garden.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quilting (and Cracking Up) with Joe the Quilter

It came to pass that Joe Cunningham, aka Joe the Quilter, who in addition to being a professional quilter also travels around the country, lecturing and giving workshops, was invited to speak to one of my quilt groups, the Farmington Valley Quilters.  Joe's a member of that rare species, the male quilter, and he also happens to play a pretty good blues guitar.  Check out his site:
So, because Joe is married to my husband's cousin, Carol Werner LeMaitre, who runs a Pilates studio in San Francisco (check it out,, my husband Joe Rubin and I were thrilled to have Joe the Quilter stay with us for his Connecticut visit, one of many stops in the Northeast on his current three-week tour.  We relished the chance to have some one-on-one with him.
Joe spoke to the Farmington Valley Quilters on the evening of Wednesday, May 15, and though I neglected to take photos of him as he spoke and showed his quilts, I can at least show you a photo of Simsbury's Eno Hall, where we Quilters hold our meetings.
And I can at least tell you a story that Joe told as he told us of his adventures as a quilter.  For example, he told us about using his teenage sons' bluejeans for one project, and finding on one of them, written in Sharpie, "Jules is a slut." 
But my favorite story was about the day when Joe was giving a workshop in which his mother was one of the participants.  The mission of the class was to create some kind of rectilinear patch arrangement.  But Joe's mother was working on a turtle.  When he asked her why, she answered, "Well, you never listened to me."
After cracking up the quilters on Wednesday evening, Joe on Thursday gave a workshop on a project called the Fantasy Four Patch.  It would produce 50 to 56 blocks, each 6-1/2 inches square, which could then be made into...whatever.
I chose these fabrics for my project:
There must have been at least a dozen participants in the class.  Joe explained how we would cut our fabric across the grain into 20 strips of varying widths ranging from 5-1/2 inches down to 1-1/2 inches, then sew the strips together into pairs, cut the pairs into prescribed widths, and put them together in a way that formed 48 to 50, 6-1/2 inch squares.  He serenaded us on guitar while we worked...a perk I've enjoyed in no other quilting workshop.

People in the class seemed to be having fun:

Then it was time for Joe to explain how to put the completed squares together: 
...and whether to do it randomly or according to some sort of pattern.

I still haven't decided about mine.  I finished the blocks at home last evening, after Joe the Quilter drove off to visit friends in Stamford and Brooklyn.  I did pile my squares into groups of sames, though, in case I want to get all anal and come up with some sort of a pattern for them:
The little post-it notes are telling me how many I have of each kind of square.  But I think I'm just going to mix them up and sew them together randomly and await some happy serendipity.

Thanks, Joe the Quilter!