Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hello, my name is...

Can you believe that the summer months are upon us already?  Our kids are so excited to be out of school… today is the last day, and it’s only a half day.  I see many summer camps, video gaming, movie and TV watching, and playing with family and friends in the near future.

We want you all to know that we read your comments, and we do hear you!  We set up our own contributor accounts, so that we’ll be posting as one or the other of us, instead of as Mom.  And, we LOVE the idea of giving an introduction to everyone about ourselves and our particular interests in quilting.  Here goes…

I’m Jenny Arkinson, the older sister, and former (I hope) pain in the rear end sister.  I work at NASA, just like Mom, except that I remained working in the Office of Procurement, which I absolutely love!  I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Mark, for just over 11 years now, and we have an almost 10-year-old son, Jack.  He turns 10 later this month.  I enjoy reading fiction novels, spending time with family and friends, playing video games, and, of course, quilting.

As for quilting itself, and the memories that go along with it… my first memory of Mom quilting is of a biblical quilt that she appliqued when I was probably around my son’s age.  The thing is HUGE!  I mean, larger than a king size quilt!  I remember her laying it all out on our library floor as she was putting it together, and then seeing it hang in our back stairway for most of the years that we lived in that house.  It starts at the bottom of the quilt with Adam and Eve, and moves up along the quilt through some of the more popular Bible stories. 

The very first quilt I ever made was a single square for a crazy quilt.  That was the beginning.  I have no idea where that block is today… probably torn apart or thrown away during some clean-out phase of the house.  The next quilt I made, with close instruction and supervision by Mom, wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s.  It was a paper pieced Geese in the Cabin quilt done in pastel floral prints.  It was a queen size quilt, which was pretty big for my first endeavor.  The next project was a Judy Niemeyer Christmas tree skirt, which I still use today.  Next, although quite a few years later, followed a French Braid done in civil war reds and blues, which was on my bed until about a month ago!  And that brings us to recent years, where I’ve completed around ten quilts now.  It’s not a lot, but I’m pretty proud of the work that I’ve done! 

This is Mary Garman-Duarte now, and I am a couple years younger than Jenny. I am a dermatologist and my husband and I also live in Friendswood, Texas, though we love spending time at our ranch near Columbus, Texas. Our kids, ages 8, 10, and 12, enjoy keeping us crazy and happy. Our girls play lacrosse, and we LOVE cheering them on and supporting growth of the sport in Texas. Our son mostly loves his iPad and playing with his friends and cousin Jack, though he has dabbled in many sports. Our middle daughter, Daisy, made several quilts with her GG (Grandma Garman) and owns more sewing machines than me thanks to GG.

While Mom may have learned to quilt as a child from her grandmother, I don't remember her quilting until I was in middle school when she made the biblical quilt that Jenny referred to. I remember helping her color in the pattern before she started sewing and watching a bolt of shimmery gold fabric turn into beautiful accents in the sun, stars, angel’s halo, border trim, and more.

My first memories of her sewing were actually of her making clothes for Jenny and me. My favorite outfit was a floor length yellow dress that had tiny white raised dots and a white ribbon belt. To me, it was a formal gown. We did not go out to eat much, as our parents tended to be quite frugal. But for special occasions, we went to Steak 'N Ale by Baybrook Mall, which was arguably the best restaurant in Clear Lake City around 1980. I remember feeling so special in my gown, and they would let us order whatever we wanted. I always asked for king crab legs with the salad bar. I would normally never eat salad at that age (5-7 years old), but everything seemed so cold and fresh, and even the plate was chilled. I loved excavating the crab meat from the shells with the tiny little fork and dunking it the candle-warmed butter. And it would not have been the same experience if I had not been in that hand-made dress! Jenny had a matching one of course that she would also wear, so I am sure we looked pretty cute.

I made my first and only quilt about 9 years ago. It is an appliqué Hawaiian pattern. I was inspired after a trip to Kauai that I earned for being Chief Resident for my dermatology training program in 2006. I guess I would consider myself a true quilter, as it still does not have a back or binding but is otherwise complete! I hope to make a Victorian crazy quilt some day with Jenny's help, and Mom had given me several satin fabrics, embroidery thread, and books to get started.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to follow our blog.  Many have asked about Mom’s Blue Heaven quilt, and whether the pattern will be available.  The answer is YES!  We’re putting the finishing touches on the pattern now and will send it to a fabulous quilter to test over the coming months.  Then, you’ll see on the website!  We’ve got other ideas swirling around, so keep on reading, and, as always, keep on quilting.