Sunday, November 29, 2015

Happy Holidays!

This past month, there was so much going on that I hardly had time to turn around.  The Houston quilt show was behind me, but not cleaning up after it, nor a week long retreat with other quilters, nor a heavy schedule of projects that need to be finished in the near future.  Thus, this month my blog post may fall short of its usual depth, in trade for a bit of brevity.  I'll be sharing some of the quilts from the Houston International Quilt Association, including a favorite that tickled me, and then I'll share some old Christmas quilts of mine, followed by a brief look at what I've been working on.  That part will be quite brief, as I haven't had much spare time! 

Let's roll!

The International Quilt Association's large show is held in Houston every Fall - and this year, it felt exceptionally large, even though the number of vendors and quilts was not particularly different. 

It's just that the convention center is undergoing a big renovation with the addition of more square footage, a host of new restaurants, a huge new Marriott Marquis hotel across the street, and more.  For the first time in 40 years, I did not manage to see every booth and quilt exhibit in three full days. 

I saw enough, though, to know that the quilting industry is alive and well - and creativity continues to abound amongst us! 

One of the cutest quilts that I saw was made by Peggy Kragnes of Felton, Minnesota.  She called her delightful quilt Breaking Wind.  Below you see the quilt, with Sunbonnet Sue having lost her bonnet, and quilts on clothes line blowing in the wind.

People who know me understand that I am not a fan of Sunbonnet Sue quilts.  I just don't understand why some people think she is so doggone cute.  Until I saw this quilt!  Take a look, again, at the quilt above.  Then look at the picture below, which has a close-up photo of the left side of the quilt.  Do you see that there is a duplicate quilt hanging on the clothes line -- complete with Sunbonnet Sue sans bonnet, and quilts flying through the air.  Is this not just incredibly creative?!!

It is not only a duplicate of the larger quilt... even the quilting is duplicated on a smaller scale.  Peggy Kragnes is a glutton for punishment, but I'm sure she must have been smiling the entire time she was making this quilt.

But wait...
                                                   there's more!

Below is a close-up of the duplicate quilt.  And oh, no!  It includes a duplicate of the entire quilt, again, on the left side.  Can this get any crazier?!!!  And once again, even the quilting motifs are duplicated!  This whole layout just made me smile over and over again.  Good job, Peggy!

Here are some close-ups of the quilts on the clothes line -- note that each was individually quilted.  It's just unbelievable how creative this quilt is, on so many different levels.


To top it all off, when I read Peggy's artist statement, it made me smile once again.  Here it is:

I did enjoy every aspect of making this quilt, from its 2:00 a.m. inception to its somewhat non-traditional name!  Not necessarily a Sunbonnet Sue fan myself, this quilt implies she is rather vain by starring in two of the quilts on the line!  The little Drunkards Path gives us a clue as to why she always wears a bonnet -- maybe it's to cover her bloodshot eyes?!  The Corn and Beans quilt was chosen because of its relationship to the quilt's name.  Look for hidden surprises in the quilting.

What a hoot!  It is no wonder that this quilt won a blue ribbon in the Art-Whimsical category.

The next set of quilts were all in the juried category of Traditional Applique quilts.  Most people might say it should be one of my favorite categories, since I do so much traditional applique - but actually, I think I love almost ALL of the categories!

The quilt below was made by Andrea Perejda of Arroyo Grande, California.  She named her quilt Arroyo Grande Album.  She said that folk art applique has been an interest of hers for many years.  She started with Threadbear's pattern for their "Civil War Bride" quilt top.  She altered it considerably, adding motifs that were meaningful to her, along with appliqued sashing strips of leaves.  Her designs were inspired by the Civil War Bride quilt, obviously, but also by Gwen Marston's American Beauties: Rose and Tulip Quilts, and Laurene Sinema's Primitive Folk Art Designs from Antique Album Quilts.  I love her unique choices of colors.


Ayako Takaku of Hagagun, Tochigi, Japan, made My Garden:  Among the Roses - it is a wonderful original and complex design.  Her artist statement said:  Looking after roses is very hard, but when I saw roses in full bloom, I felt happiness.  I expressed my rose's cuteness in this quilt.  I just have a vision of her own sweet nature when I read her statement.  She employed a lot of trapunto in the open areas of her quilt, making it an exceptional undertaking.


Barbara Korengold of Chevy Chase, Maryland, made Ben's Midnight Garden, an original design adapted from an embroidered and appliqued wool rug made in the 1860s in either Maine or New York; this rug is in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.  The quilt is filled with needleturn applique, hand embroidery, hand quilting, and machine piecing.  It is difficult to envision the enormous amount of work that went into this quilt just by looking at the picture, below, but the quilt was a jaw-dropper.  When you saw it, you just felt the floor move beneath your feet.

Below is a detail picture of the above quilt that only begins to give you a clue as to the amount of work Barbara put into this quilt.  There is so much detail, so much embroidery, so many decisions regarding colors and sizes and shapes... and the results are all just stunning!

Bobbie Ashley, from Pittsburgh, Texas, made Red Roses for Roberta in honor of her mother.  Bobbie said, "(this quilt was) created in honor of my mother, from her daughter, who believes she deserves all the finer things in life, and who can only create a quilt for her."  That says it all, doesn't it?  Mothers and daughters who support and honor each other are cherished gifts - and Bobbie is a lucky woman to know that.  The quilt is an original design, inspired by antique French porcelain Sevres jewelry boxes.

Bobbie's quilt is another one that you cannot envision the amount of beauty, detail work, and more that are buried in the quilt just by looking at a photo.  Each of the designs in the corners and the middle of the outer borders contain a small vignette picture.  The border is not a simple straight one.  The roses are stunning.  The "hoops" ringing the center bouquet have tiny little flowers on them.  And the hand quilting is gorgeous.  Below is a detail photo of the center block - but a photo still cannot capture the beauty in this block.


My Brunette Whig was made by Gail Stepanek and Jan Hutchison of New Lenox, Illinois.  These gals are incredibly accomplished applique and quilting artists.  The design is original, based on antique Whig Rose quiltsbut as Gail says, her unique block is most likely not recognized as a Whig Rose.  Jan's wonderful quilting included the use of both cotton and metallic threads.  This quilt was another stunner!


Gaye Ryon and Carol Day of Salt Lake City, Utah, created Floral De'Lite.  Carol designed the quilt when she began to applique; as she loves the graceful reaching branches encircling the poinsettia and hearts.  Gaye designed the quilting to enhance the wonderful applique.  The quilt used two layers of wool batting, and all kinds of thread:  cotton, silk, Glide, monopoly, YIL metallic, and Razzle Dazzle.  The design was inspired by a quilt made by Karen Kay Buckley. 


Suzy Webster of Apple Valley, Minnesota, adapted the inner circular design of Harmony's Loop from Authentic Turkish Designs by Azade Akar.  She added an original inner border and quilting motifs, saying, "It was so much fun!"  Her quilt, surprisingly (to me, because I am in awe of people who can do this!), was quilted using a hand-guided domestic machine.  This lovely quilt is just a beautiful design - I particularly like how she cleverly "shadowed" applique in the corners and also woven amidst the loop and flowers.


Teruko Ono of Iwaki-City, Fukushima-Ken, Japan, made Composition of Happiness out of her desire for the recovery from Japan's earthquake disaster, "as well as a happy smile for everyone."  She says that "Quilting brings a lot of nice friends.  It also gives me a full life."  I think that many of us can echo those thoughts.  Teruko did a wonderful job of designing this complex layout - and executing it so well. 

Somehow, I only managed to take two pictures of quilts in the Traditional Pieced category.  The first one is Red Tide by Bonnie Keller of Chehalis, Washington.  She says she always wanted to make a paper-pieced quilt - and wanted to use her stash of red fabrics.  Bonnie enlarged a 46 inch square quilt designed by Jacqueline de Jong, making her own quilt 82 inches square.  She used Fabrico pens to enhance the quilting, which she says, "brought the quilt to life!"  I would have to agree - her outlining of quilted circles really enlivened the overall look of the quilt - but even without the ink, the quilt was exceptionally well made.  Bravo!


Carol Coffey Taylor and Martha Vincent of Beaumont, Texas, made Lady Indigo.  Carol had been collecting indigos for a few years and designed that a pineapple block would be an excellent choice for showing off her collection.  Some of the details in this quilt are worth noting:  the borders are made of directional fabric, the appliques (which I recognize from one of my old patterns!) are lined and raw-edge appliqued with a blanket stitch.  Corded binding was added on each side of the border. 

I'm going to save the rest of my photos  from this year's show in Houston (and I have a LOT of them!) for a future blog and let you see some old Christmas quilts, in the spirit of the season.  I love December - whether it be Hanukkah, Christmas, just plain old wither, or any other celebration of the season.  We all have so much to be thankful for, and this time of year lets us express our sense of joy like no other season does.  It may be why I have so many Christmas and red and green quilts.  I'll show you a SMALL sampling of them now!

This quilt is an old favorite of mine.  I made it with my Grandmother almost 60 years ago.  It's just a tied crazy quilt made of red and green fabrics, but the joy of going to my grandma's every weekend and helping her make quilts as soon as I was able to thread a needle are a part of my heritage.  The fabrics were often those that my mother used to make dresses and shirts for my dad and the kids in the family.  There are so many memories tied up in this quilt!  So, although it's not a Christmas quilt... it's red and green... and very special.


It seems that gingerbread cookies are in their glory over the holidays.  Here's Gingerbread Joy - I made it and included the words to the story about the gingerbread boy, "Run, run, fast as you can!  Can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!"


And who doesn't remember 'Twas the Night Before Christmas?  I designed a quilt, using the story to dictate the motifs in each block.  Each block has a bit of the story embroidered onto it, and many of the blocks have things that are special to me on them -- for example, my grandchildren's names are embroidered on the stockings hung on the fireplace mantel.

Below, you can see a close-up of one of the blocks -- with the words embroidered on it:  "But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight..."  Don't those phrases bring back memories of smiles and happiness?


My Shivery Snowman quilt was designed for beginning quilters, with its simple applique.  Although it's a calendar quilt, with each block representing the months from January through December, it still strikes me as a Christmas quilt because of the snowmen on it.

Here's the December block...

And here's the February block...

And here is the August block.  S'mores - yum!


Yuletide Joy was a very popular block-of-the-month when it came out, and it still remains popular today with each of its sweet blocks.

I think this is my favorite block of all of them!

But this one runs a close second!

And maybe this one is a close tie for second - I love teddy bears.


The next two quilts are old ones -- I bought them on eBay for a song and quilted them... and then donated them to my guild for their annual auction.  Red and green are the ruling colors of my house!


Here is a simple little wall hanging, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, that comes out once a year and lies across the back of a big wingback chair in my living room.


And The Santa Pillowcase is a simple and cute pieced (no applique!) pillow case that brings a smile to a guest bedroom in December.
I also designed some easy-to-make Christmas stockings.  When the local Jo-Anns had a sale on upholstery trims, I went to work picking up 1/2-yard lengths to add to my stockings.  These along with half a dozen others, grace my mantel.  These are roomy 18 inch stockings - the perfect size for an assortment of small gifts.


My Feathered Log Cabin Christmas usually stays in my quilt room under the stacks of other quilts, but it's still a favorite of mine, mostly because I love the feathered log cabin blocks on the bottom half of the quilt.

A bit of the "scene" in the above quilt was taken and put into Let It Snow, a small wall hanging.  Sometimes simple things are the best things of all!


The Gingerbread Joy quilt (that I showed earlier) got reinvented into another gingerbread quilt - appropriately named Quilted Gingerbread.  I like this one because I love the border and the rich red and green that surround the blocks.


For Christians, the reason for the season is the birth of Jesus.  This quilt, Believe, celebrates that.

Here's a close-up of the center block.

And a close-up of the hand-quilted border.

Below is one of a series of "Lady" quilts I made; this one celebrates Christmas with the Santa Lucia girl bedecked with a wreath of candles (who thought of that tradition?!).  You may notice that the border on this one is the same one that the gals from Beaumont used on their pineapple indigo quilt pictured above.  I loved designing this quilt with the tiny border of 1/2-inch squares that twinkle like lights, and the young girl surrounded by all the joys of the season - Santas and snowmen and teddies and angels and dollies and trikes... and a snowy window looking out on a big yellow moon and a starry sky.

And my last Christmas quilt (that I'm sharing in this post) is my little Christmas in New York quilt.  Why is it named Christmas in New York, you might ask...  Because it's a New York Beauty design and all of the fabrics in it are Christmas fabrics!

So what have I been working on lately?  I've been dabbling in a thousand things, overwhelmed with schedule pressures... but here's a sampling.

I'm still stitching away on my Blue Heaven quilt...

I hope to have it finished early next year and then I'll have to decide if I want to hand quilt it or not.  I want to... but do I have enough time is always the question!


I have finished the pattern for The Grape Quilt and I've basted all the stems onto the background fabric for the WHOLE quilt.  But to be honest, this quilt is now sitting on the back burner.  All of my friends that are making it will probably finish theirs long before I do (sigh...).

I spent quite a bit of time two weeks ago, appliqueing little basket handles in place... and finished doing all the applique.  I also finished making all of the larger baskets, and assembled the quilt top... but I didn't have time to take a picture of the quilt for you all.  Next month?  Maybe!  I just need to add the borders onto it now.  And no, the borders will not have those little tiny basket blocks seen above the quilt layout below -- those baskets were the wrong shape, size, design... nothing was right about them... so they will appear somewhere else someday.  I can't wait to finish this quilt, though - and I'm SO close, with only the border remaining!


I've also started making it a practice to wake up and go upstairs and do some hand quilting on my new New York Beauty quilt.  It's amazing how much progress I'm making by just spending 15-45 minutes in the morning, doing hand quilting.  There is still SO much left, though!

I should mention that my 11-year old grand daughter went on vacation over the Thanksgiving holidays and blessed me with the task of babysitting Midnight.  She thinks Midnight is my special friend, since we both dress in black and white all the time.  I sent this picture to my grand daughter, noting that Midnight was learning to quilt.  Ha!  What is it about a quilt in a frame that attracts a cat to it so quickly?!

Well, dear friends... it's a day or two early, but I will not be home in the morning on December 1st, when I normally post my blog... so I'm going to post it tonight and wish everyone the most merry of holidays, the healthiest and happiest of New Years, and all the joys and blessings that come in a season of hope.  Having seen such terrible news come into our homes (via television) in the past few months, I hope and pray that somehow, everyone can all work together and find the wisdom to bring peace into hearts around the Nation and the world in the coming year.

With a big hug to all - happy quilting!

(c)2015 Susan H. Garman