Thursday, March 27, 2008

Violets and poems

One of the benefits of not using a chemical weed control product on our yard (which at this point is mostly weeds and moss!) is the lovely violets that are carpeting some of the shadier spots in the yard this spring. As a child, I used to pick bouquets like this one for my mother. So violets always make me think of her, and of these poems by Emily Dickinson, one of her favorite poets (and mine, too!)

Spring is the Period
Express from God.
Among the other seasons
Himself abide,

But during March and April
None stir abroad
Without a cordial interview
With God.

– Emily Dickinson

I held a jewel in my fingers —
And went to sleep —
The day was warm, and winds were prosy —
I said “’Twill keep” —

I woke — and chid my honest fingers —
The Gem was gone —
And now, an Amethyst remembrance
Is all I own —

— Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Greta’s Bohemian Bouquet

My friend Greta McCrea is doing my Bohemian Bouquet patterns in completely different colors than I used, and it is fabulous! She showed me her blocks last night, and today sent me this photo of two of them completed. It is so fun for me to see how people are making my designs their own through their color choices.

If you are making Bohemian Bouquet and have photos, please send them to me via e-mail and I will try to post them here. To see my blocks (done on a black background) and my friend DeLane’s blocks (done on a cream background), click here
and here and here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tulip Bag

Here is my newest creation, the Tulip Bag! I used the Simplicity fabric line by 3 Sisters for Moda. The bag is 14" high, and is lined, with lots of pockets inside. I'm going to use mine as a purse, but it is big enough to use for a tote if you prefer. The front also has a large pocket perfect for your keys, so they don’t get lost inside.

There’s a Bag-E-Bottoms acrylic base (size D) in the bottom, so it sits flat and doesn’t tip over. (If you don’t know about Bag-E-Bottoms’ great products, visit I use them in all my fabric bags, and they are fabulous!

The Tulip Bag pattern will also include directions for the little cell phone carrier, which can loop around the purse strap (there’s Velcro under the button on the front, so it’s easy to attach and detach it).

The pattern will be available on my website,, by the end of March.

Quilting featured on CBS’s “Sunday Morning”

So did you see "Sunday Morning" on CBS today? They did a segment on the International Quilt Festival, and interviewed Karey Bresenhan, the director of the festival, and Ricky Tims.

There was only a short bit from the indomitable Bresenahn, one of quilting’s grande dames, and a kind, generous and amazing woman. Too bad. Most of the segment focused on Ricky Tims in his Colorado studio, and footage of him meeting and greeting and teaching at Festival. He did a good job of explaining how quilting is changing, and Karey pointed out that quilting is nearly a 4 billion dollar industry annually. Plus nice footage of the festival, and of the gorgeous quilts, both traditional and contemporary.

There was some of the same old, ”Wow! These quilts don’t look anything like what grandma used to make!” which I suppose is to be expected. Overall, it was a great segment that I think will interest many and open some eyes. All good things for quilting!

I do have to admit that the feminist in me was a bit put off that CBS found one of the handful of prominent quilters who are male to feature. I take pride that it is primarily woman who have taken quilting from craft to fine art, whether they make traditional quilts or art quilts.

Don't get me wrong... I think it is fabulous that men are quilting, too. The more, the merrier! And as a journalist, I recognize that a man who wins awards for quilting is more newsworthy than a woman who does, because he is more rare. But gosh, they didn't even use Hollis Chatelain's name when they talked about and showed her "Hope for our World,” which won Best of Show and $10,000 in Festival 2007! Ouch!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bohemian Bouquet Block #3

Here’s Bohemian Bouquet Block #3! My version (needleturn on a black background) is above. My friend DeLane’s version is below, on a cream background. She fused her appliqué and did satin stitch around it. (And yes, hers is reversed!)Patterns for the entire Mystery Block of the Month series will be available on my website, (Each pattern is released on the 15h of the month.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cool shoes

It’s almost spring, and lately I’ve had a yen for some cool arty shoes. I saw some fun Converse One Star tennies at Target a few days ago, but none were in my colors, so I bought a pair in white and painted them. I mixed some Jacquard Textile Medium in sky blue and grass green and slathered it on. Now I’m using some varigated Perle cotton to embroider them.

“What are those?” my pre-teen daughter asked yesterday, with a fair amount of disdain in her voice, after spotting them on my cutting table where I’d left them to dry. “You are so weird!”


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studio

I'm feeling very honored this morning because I just found out that one of my favorite bloggers, Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studio, just tagged me (again)!

Kathy has a wonderful contemporary style that shines through in everything she designs, and she is a really nice person, too. The only reason I didn't tag her was that she'd already been tagged, and I thought I had to pick new people to tag!

Kathy's blog is a wonderful and insiring read, full of beautiful photos, quilts, knitting, sewing and craft ideas.

She also has an Etsy shop where you can buy her handmade goodies (be warned; they sell out fast!) She sells her patterns on her website.

Thanks, Kathy!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Free pattern coming soon!

I have designed a block for a free quilt pattern called “Exuberance” offered through Cotton Spice. The quilt has a combination of applique and pieced blocks; mine is a foundaton-pieced block (number 13), and will be available on the Cotton Spice website later this month. The quilt has 12 applique setting triangles and 13 pieced blocks, all by different designers.

If you don't know about Cotton Spice, you should! It is a website offering an online quarterly magazine for quilters that includes regular columns, a quick project, quilt fiction and quilt designs complete with instructions and templates. Here is “Exuberance” so far (my block will be number 13):

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tag! I’m it!

I've been tagged by appliqué legend Kay MacKenzie of Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs! (She's the author of lots of books and patterns for quilters who appliqué, including her newest book, Teapots 2 to Appliqué. )

This cyber game of tag is a great way for all of us who blog (or just read blogs) to connect in a new way. Once you are tagged, you are supposed to post seven things about yourself, and tag seven other blogs.

So, here goes...

Seven things you might not know about me:

1. I am also a graphic designer, and design corporate newsletters, logos and such under my other company, Black Cat Graphics.

2. The black cat is my personal symbol, since I was born on Halloween. I have had several black cats in my life. The current black cat – well, mostly black... she has been licking her fur off lately and is rather splotchy – is named Trouble.

I also have a dog, Sophie, and another cat, Max, who is a real character and likes to pose for the camera. Max is shown below riding the vacuum cleaner. Yes, really.

3. I have a compound mitre saw and I'm not afraid to use it. Since my husband and I purchased our 1916 home about 11 years ago, I've discovered that I love to renovate. (When I'm not absorbed in a quilting project, that is.) Here's my house, all decked out for Halloween:

4. I was born in Pittsburgh, PA, and have lived in 7 states (Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia) and one foreign country (Scotland, where I spent my junior year of college at the University of St. Andrews).

5. I have an affinity with trees. One of my biggest pet peeves is ignorant people who top their trees. (Topping is improperly pruning a tree by crudely chopping off the end of the branches. It is ugly and it promotes insect damage and disease.) I wish our trees today could be like those in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books, and come to life to punish the bad guys ... I'd pay good money to see the trees take a chain saw to the evil tree company men who top them!

Here’s a view of the maple tree outside my bedroom window on a rare snowy morning:

5. I love the Dave Matthews Band (my husband and I have seen them nine times so far). I love the music, and I love the message (enjoy life and all its gifts, live in peace).

6. My mom is also a quilter, and she is my biggest fan. When she and my dad gave me a new sewing machine for my fortieth birthday a few years ago, it changed my quilts and my life. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) It is so wonderful to be able to share a hobby with your mom. Here's a photo of my mother as a baby, with her mother, Dorothy (who was a wonderful seamstress and also made quilts!)

7. My quilt “The Bluest Eye” is now hanging at Barack Obama's Ohio headquarters. I met a fascinating woman and art quilt collector, Michele Hardman, at the 2007 SAQA conference, and she asked if she could exhbit the quilt at Obama's headquarters in Chicago, where she works. She hung the quilt in Ohio about a month ago when she helped open Obama's Ohio headquarters in Columbus. I love Obama’s optimism, eloquence and energy.

Seven great bloggers you should know:

1. Sarah Ann Smith is a wonderful art quilter from Camden, Maine, who will be teaching at the AQS show in Paducah this spring. Her art will also grace the cover of the book Quilting with Beads, to be released in May or June 2008.

2. Melinda Schwakhofer is an American fiber artist living in England. Some of her blog is about cooking, some about quilting, and some about her life in the English countryside. I enjoy her beautiful photos of England, and her thoughtful musings on a wide variety of subjects.

3. Grace Howes is a good friend who started out as a quilter but is now a full-fledged fiber artist. She grew up in the Bahamas, has a wonderfully hearty laugh and an upbeat attitude that is infectious.

4. Ellen Guerrant is a wonderful, warm, deep-thinking fiber artist who lives in the Charlotte area. I enjoy reading her thoughts on art and many other subjects on her blog.

5. You may already recognize Lyric Kinard from her wonderful series of articles in Quilting Arts magazine. Lyric lives in North Carolina, and I met her at the regional SAQA conference in October 2007. She is teaching several classes at this year's International Quilt Festival in Houston.

6. Janine Matthews is a fiber artist, quilt teacher and designer from New South Wales, Australia. She makes beautiful jewelry, too. I met her online through the QuiltArt listserve. I enjoy her blog because it has a big personality (like her!) and because it gives me a little taste of Australia each time I visit.

7. Melanie Testa is a cutting-edge fiber artist whose work I love. You may have read her articles in Quilting Arts magazine (the latest is on soy wax layered with monoprinting), or for her widely exhibited work. She is writing a book about all the processes she uses in her art.