Word of the Day: Beginning

I have a book called 365 Tao. I have had it for several years and decided this year to read one page every day, and think about the word of the day in order to get inspired. Where appropriate to quilting, I will post the word of the day here for you to ponder as well.

It is really no big surprise to me that the word for the first day of the year is Beginning. It seems appropriate on January 1. The book says that before anyone can begin they have to make the decision to begin. This seems so basic, but I never thought of it like that. If I don’t decide to start a new project, I can’t begin it. Interesting to let rumble around in my mind.

The author writes that the beginning of a journey is always filled with hope, wonder, anticipation and excitement. This is also true, if you think about it. I was thinking about this in relation to the Hop, Skip & Jump quilt I started yesterday. Before I physically begin a project, but after I have decided to begin there is a lot of hope on how it will go (fast? easily?); wonder at how yardage can be turned into something different, comforting and useful; there is anticipation on the feel of the fabric in my hands and the skillful wielding of tools as well as the pleasure of seeing the pieces go together; and, finally, the excitement at starting a new project, using new fabrics and a new design.

Once you have started the project, the bloom is off. I face the reality of making the quilt; the maker is in the process. The hope, wonder, anticipation and excitement still exist, but they are very much in my head while the process is actually something that I physically do. Sadly, physical actions have to comply with the laws of space, time, physics, etc. For the HSJ project, I found that that the pieces had to each be cut individually because they use templates. It was not a surprise, because I looked at the book carefully before I started. Cutting pieces individually using templates is not bad, just different. I thought about whether or not to change the pattern to make it easier to rotary cut, too, as I mentioned and decided to leave the project as it was rather than modifying it. There is a certain calmness to templates. They force me to slow down somewhat. It is all just part of the process. The reality is always different than what is in my head, and often a splendid surprise.

Good word for the day, I think!


The Best Quilts of 2008 According to Me

One of the things I learned this year about quilts is that a portion of a quilt can be attractive to me, even if I don’t like the total execution. This revelation came about after viewing a number of shows where I found no quilt that jumped out at me and said “I am the best.” There was a lot of brown and a lot of techniques and patterns I had already seen. I am not disparaging the efforts of any quiltmaker, because making a quilt is no mean feat. I truly believe that everyone should make whatever quilt they want whenever they want (and can) in whatever method and colors they choose. So, below you may see some quilts where the pattern or a portion of the work is what I liked.

San Mateo County Fair 2008: I liked the use of pink in the quilt. I also admired the use of different black on white fabrics. Scrappy, but pulled together. I am looking for uses for pink and like the movement of the pinwheels. I also admire the maker for using hand applique.

APNQ 2008: Love the wheels and the use of turquoise/aqua as a background.

PIQF 2008 – Quilt is a reproduction of a Pennsylvania Dutch Quilt. Each block is really tiny – like a little jewel. I want to find the book as some of the blocks are very unique (EQ can you make a CD so I don’t have to draft them all???), but it is hard to come by for a reasonable price.

PIQF 2008: Seasons by Linda McLaughlin. There were many, many quilts depicting leaves and trees at this year’s PIQF show. This was one of the best. One of the things that I noticed about this was the excellent use of Shibori. I don’t like quilts that are all about making people notice the maker used hand dyed fabric. In this one the hand-dyes are part of and advance the design. Nice work!

PIQF 2008: On the Wings of a Dream by Ana Bazzolino. I like this quilt, because of the attention to detail and color. There is just enough pink to make it interesting, but not so much that it becomes sickly sweet.

This is the detail that I really like the black on white fabrics are appliqued on to the solid black fabric and the white on black pieces are appliqued to the white fabrics. I like the thoughfulness.

Overall thoughts:

  • There was less brown this year, so perhaps quilts will become more cheerful.
  • Many of the EBHQ big names did not enter quilts into the annual show and the show was not as good as in previous years. I didn’t enter one either, so I shouldn’t talk.
  • I was interested in complex patterns as well as older block designs such a wheels.
  • Was attracted to flower quilts.
  • Scruntinized design elements much more carefully.

2008 UFO Report

2008 has seen more sewing progress, as well as more positive feeling sewing progress. I like to inventory my UFOs to see if I made any progress since my previous roundup post of December 31, 2007 and where I am in the process as well as what I need to do. But first, I want to tout my accomplishments. 😉

Completed Pieces in 2008
Completed means to me that they are now usable and can in no way be considered to have anything left to do to them.

  • 12 tote bags
  • 5 Teacher Pillows
  • 10 Christmas ornaments
  • 1 quilt: Nosegay: still needs the sleeve sewn on, but Julie said I should count it as finished, so I put in both categories (see below)
  • 302 blog posts related to quiltmaking, design or creativity

As it was last year, I thought there were more. I am surprised that I finished NO quilts, because I worked on so many, but 12 tote bags is nothing to sneeze at. I have to say that I think, in 2008,I really focused on enjoying my work and the process.

Mostly Done, Need Finishing
I added this new category to break up the UFO list and to make myself feel like I had accomplished something, which was quite overwhelming. Also, these are all mostly done, IMO.

  • Cheerful Baskets: Top finished; needs back, quilting and binding
  • Chocolate Box: Top and Back finished; needs quilting and binding. see the post from August 14, 2006 to see the fabrics I used.
  • I Spy (Eye Spy) quilt for DS: Top finished; needs back, quilting and binding. I want to use flannel for it, so I need to find some flannel that is not too expensive, but nice and cozy before I can do the back. My quilt on the longarm after I have my longarm lesson.
  • Nosegay: sleeve made and pinned on; needs hand sewing
  • Purple Bullseye: Top finished; needs back, quilting and binding

True UFOs
Here is my list of UFOs. You can see many of them over at Artquiltmaker.com or look at the links I have provided.As mentioned last year, this list in no way implies that I will discontinue starting new projects or finish any of these.

  • Original Bullseye: Still have those directions for doing the border the way I want it (the directions I found late last year). Asked TFQ to help me puzzle out the border, but we had better things to do. No progress in 2008, but am hopeful for 2009.
  • Crazy Quilt Test: needs back and label, quilting and binding. Another candidate for the longarm machine after I take the class.
  • Flowering Snowballs/Cross Block quilt: I have been working on it steadily all year and have about 8 more blocks to make before I start on the border. I am worrying a bit about how to keep the blocks from fraying after I square them up. Got some good ideas from fabulous readers after my December 20, 2008 post! Progress throughout 2008.
  • Garden from Pamela Allen class: needs hand embroidery and embellishment. No progress in 2008
  • House and Garden from Pamela Allen class in May 2007: completed machine quilting; still needs more hand embroidery and embellishment. Progress in 2008.
  • Laura Wasilowski Flower Garden: started in the Laura Wasilowski class CQFA held in July 2007: needs machine quilting, hand embroidery and embellishment. No progress in 2008.
  • He Tried to Make it Up to Her: needs back and to be quilted. This is probably a quilt I will want to quilt myself. TFQ has dug out a number of quilts, but I don’t know if this was one of them. No progress in 2008.
  • Her Eyes were Bigger than Her Stomach: needs a back and to be quilted. Very active quilt; probably not the best design, but a mile marker in the quiltmaking journey and an excellent learning experience. No progress in 2008
  • Kissy Fish: ongoing hand beading project. No progress in 2008.
  • Pineapple: All blocks are done. Need to put them together. Still facing the reality that some blocks are much too large and trying to figure out how to move forward. I measured all the blocks and found they were all different sizes. Need to decide which ones I can fit together despite their differences in sizes. I am still prepared to remake some of the blocks. Some progress in 2008
  • Pointillist Palette 4: Night: This is the fourth (of six) in a series of Pointillist Palette fabric by Debra Lunn and Michael Mrowka that was popular a number of years ago. No progress in 2008
  • QA Challenge Quilt: need to fuse the parts and rubber stamp the words. No progress in 2008
  • See: started in a David Walker class. Needs fusing, satin stitching around fused pieces and quilting. No progress in 2008
  • Self Portrait from Pamela Allen class: needs more piecing, hand embroidery and embellishment. No progress in 2008
  • Solid Star Friendship Quilt: need more friends so they can make stars for me in solids with black. No progress in 2008
  • Spiderweb: foundation pieced project, still piecing. Need to create the templates for the border blocks. Aside from collecting more strips, no progress in 2008
  • The Tarts Come to Tea: Last year I said that I needed inspiration. TFQ and I talked about this quilt a bit and I got some ideas on how to proceed. It really always helps to discuss with someone who has a good design sense. No progress in 2008
  • Women’s Work 2: last year I said that this quilt “needs focus.” Was inspired and have the design. The 2009 words for this quilt: really needs execution! No progress in 2008.

On My Mind
Here are the quilts and projects I am thinking about. Some are on the list from last year. In some cases I have purchased fabric, but no sewing has been done, so they are not yet considered UFOs.

  • Clear tote using tablecloth plastic
  • Liesl tote/backpack
  • San Mateo County Fair Dot quilt
  • Paper pieced Nativity scene: I downloaded this pattern when it was free a few years ago and have never gotten up the energy to be as organized as I need to be to make this, but I still want to make it. You can find the pattern, for purchase, at Paper Panache.com
  • Interlocking triangles #4: love the technique and have at least one, if not two, idea[s] for more quilts using this technique.
  • Dot quilt with inset circles a la Ruth McDowell: more uses for dots and a good exercise in piecing. the Twinkle quilt recently shown in the January issue of Quilting Arts magazine is similar and renewed my interest in this design.
  • Feathered Star dot quilt from Summer 2007 issue of Quilts & More: more use for dots. Thought I would get to this after making the Pineapple, but the Pineapple is still not complete, so this this dot quilt has not been started.
  • Some kind of pink quilt with all the pink fabric I have been buying.
  • Colorblocks 3 with silks: I want to use this pattern from Sandy Bonsib; silk fab will use silk fabric with a luscious sheen instead of the regular cottons. Background will be cotton sateen. What’s been holding me up? Backing all the silk. I have the backing and just can’t bring myself to do it. Barsha told me to skip the backing and just make the quilt without it. Can’t decide if the project has new life or not. Definitely not on the top of the list.
  • Garden Quilt: I have been collecting photos and patterns of interesting flowers for years and have always wanted to make some kind of garden or flower quilt. It will probably be something like The Tarts Come to Tea. Need to finish the Tarts first before starting the same kind of project.
  • Jack’s Chain: I saw a quilt of this pattern years and years ago and have always wanted to make one. Probably at least a partial hand piecing project after the Flowering Snowball (Cross Blocks quilt).
  • P&B Pop Parade quilt a la Serendipity Puzzle
  • Bathroom ‘quilt’ out of heavy clear plastic. I want to make pockets that I can put interesting things in that won’t get waterlogged. I also think the stitching would be an interesting addition to the piece.
  • Presents quilt: have the pattern and jelly roll to do it. Got excited about it right after I started piecing the hexagons, but kept on with the hexagons.

Abandoned Projects
This is also a new category. I decided to be upfront about the projects I got rid of.

  • Leaf Friendship quilt: Before he beginning of 2007 I thought to myself “this piece needs something that I don’t have.” Got rid of it after the big closet clean up of April 2008


  • I am still trying to enjoy the process of quiltmaking more than the finished product. I think there is more work to do, but I also feel like I succeeded so far.
  • I have added projects to the On My Mind section because tote bags have been a big part of my life in 2008 and I expect that to continue in 2009.

Hop, Skip & Jump by Denyse Schmidt Project

I decided to work on the Hop Skip and Jump pattern by Denyse Schmidt (Denyse Schmidt Quilts book) as my next project right now. I rarely sew from patterns, but this one seemed like a good one to use with the blues that I had weeded out from my new fabrics. I had thought of modifying the pattern so that there were no curved pieces, but I didn’t. I am not afraid of curved piecing (note Flowering Snowballs/Cross Blocks), but each of the 16 pieces required for each block must be cut out separately. It is an arduous task, but I am into it now and will just continue on.

One problem I already had was with the copy place. The pattern directs the maker to enlarge the pattern by 400%. I have terrible problems with office equipment, copiers in particular, so I went to an office shop and they offered to do it for me. The girl couldn’t get the entire pattern on an 11″x17″ sheet of paper. She asked me at one point if it would be a problem to have the top of the pieces cut off. Finally, I told her she could reduce the size slightly and that seemed to work. It doesn’t bother me to have slightly smaller blocks. I can make a few more with no problem.

For once I have cut all the blue pieces for 6 blocks before I have sewed any of them together. I haven’t decided on the background yet, so I haven’t cut background pieces. I thought I had just bought a white on white that I would use, but I can’t find it so either it was my imagination, it is hiding from me or it isn’t washed yet.

This is my favorite. The background is a very cheerful dot print where the dots are irregular and a variety of different colors. I am all about cheerful, you know. 😉

The above is my second favorite. I don’t have enough of this particular black on white print, so I would have to use a variety of different black on white prints with the same weight/ratio of black to white. I wouldn’t want it to be too overly black.

I really wanted a very calm looking quilt, thus all the blues. This background is one of the P&B New Basics from 2000. I recently bought a yard of it and have at least a fat quarter somewhere else. The problem is that it is very close to some of the value of the other fabrics so the pieces blend together. I think they blend together a little too much.

There are a couple of factors for the background: one is that it has to have the look that I want. Another is that I have to have enough of the chosen fabric to use as a background. The bottom line is that I want this to be a quick quilt. I don’t want to spend weeks on picking the background. I also, however, don’t want to hate it when I am halfway through the sewing. I am happy to hear what you think.

Kaffe Mosaics

I must have been hiding under a rock or too engrossed in quilts not to have heard that Kaffe Fassett does mosaics. I have an idea for a mosaic for which I have been hoarding pottery shards and bits of tile forever. I am pleased that the Library has his books so I can take a look. For what I want to do, I’ll need a lot more tile and a buddy to work with. Immerhin*

Kaffe’s Mosaic

blog it

Thanks for reading in 2008! Happy New Year!

*German for “ever closer” (approximate translation)