March 22, 2018: Project updates; Navaho Textiles; Part 4 Japanese Quilts at NEQM

Greetings!  Since returning from vacation, I’ve settled back into my routine of working daily on various quilt projects, going back and forth between them based on the technique I feel most drawn to doing at the time.  Such scattered attention contributes to my slow progress on each project, but that’s how I generally enjoy working and the pleasure of the process is important to me.

I have “tackled” the center medallion for “Sweet Journeys.”  Here’s the pattern:

I appliquéd down all the stems and the center design and have started on the 12 leaves (click on pictures to enlarge!)


After the 12 leaves comes the hard part – 180 grapes!!!  This is going to take a while! The colors in the last close up are most true and capture the richness of the colors better than the picture of all the blocks, which looks kind of washed out.

I have decided to finish all the embroidery and the circle additions on the winter quilt blocks before making any more new ones:

A tentative title for the winter quilt is “A Winter Reverie,” or “Winter Reveries.”

I sewed the second doll quilt blocks together after playing with them a bit and deciding to keep them the way I had them arranged on the design wall.  Options are limited because the number of blocks is small.  I added the borders:

I plan to add a line of cheddar colored embroidery stitches where the center and borders come together.  Now I can add both doll quilt #1 and doll quilt #2 to the ” need to be hand quilted” pile.  Speaking of which, I picked up the silk quilt which is now basted and have it laid out on a bed to study for a few days, trying to figure out how to quilt it.  I am pretty certain I will stitch in a circular manner between the embroidered spirals and do some straight line stitching in the dark blue background.  Will probably stick with straight stitching in the stars too.  I think there’s too much detail throughout the quilt to go with any type of overall curved line stitching.  That would likely end up competing for attention with the pieced design and I don’t think that would be good.  I want the pieced design to take center stage:

Just before our vacation, I shopped in Barnes and Noble for a book to take along  for pleasure reading.  I always browse the quilt magazines while there and look what I found and had to purchase!!:

This issue focuses on Massachusetts and there’s a nice article about the New England Quilt Museum and Pam Weeks the curator there (who, of course, invited me to have my exhibit there!!).  What a lovely publication!

While in Arizona we went to the Arizona Desert Art Museum in Tucson where there was a fabulous exhibit of Navaho Textiles.   I absolutely loved some of the rugs on display. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed.  There was no catalogue for the exhibit either – bummer!  However, when we went to the Heard Museum in Phoenix, their gift shop had this wonderful book on Navaho Textiles with great pictures so I had to get it:

I really like many of the designs and, in a way, they make me think of the modern quilt movement – some would potentially make interesting modern quilts.  I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to them is that many are red – my favorite color!!! -, often with black and gold.  That color combination is a favorite of mine.  Take a look at these examples:

Speaking of modern quilts, I recently enjoyed browsing/looking at the Quilt Con winners from this year on the Quilt Con web site.  I’m not a huge fan of modern quilts in the same way that I’m not a huge fan of abstract art.  However, when done well, this style quilt can be interesting and even beautiful.  I thought that overall this year’s winners were a significant improvement from previous years – just my opinion.  Perhaps with time this new style is “maturing”!  One thing that is noticeable is that the winners were OVERWHELMINGLY made of solid fabrics – not sure if that was true for the whole show.  One of the things that drew me to quilting was printed fabrics.  I still love them far more than solids and I enjoy the challenge of combining them in an artful way.  Not sure I will ever want to mostly use solids….

Here are 4 more Japanese quilts from the exhibit at NEQM:

Loved the green color use, the leaves and blossoms, and the hand quilting in this one.  Great pieced background!:

Beautiful hand appliqué and quilting in this one and nice medallion style construction.  Loved the trapunto!:

I’ve always enjoyed night scenes with a moon:

The construction and color use were both stunning in this quilt:

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi




March 18, 2018: Back from vacation!

Greetings!  I am back from vacation in Arizona and trying to readjust to the cold weather.  It was 84 degrees in the afternoon our last 2 days in Scottsdale and it feels like 11 right now in our area of New Hampshire!  Oh well – spring is almost here!

As you can imagine, I didn’t accomplish much in the way of quilting while on vacation so this post is going to be heavy on vacation pictures from Arizona.  We stayed at 2 wonderful B&B’s, one in Oak Canyon, just south of Sedona and the other south of Tucson.  We finished up with a couple nights in Scottsdale before coming home.

The first B&B is the “Cozy Cactus” with gorgeous views of the red rocks and fantastic breakfasts!!

This was the view from our balcony:



And other views of Sedona and the rocks from walks and hikes we took:

We loved the Cozy Cactus and the location and would like to return some day!

The second great B&B was Paca de Paja located about 40 minutes south of Tucson in the desert.  The proprietor helped to design and build the place herself with “straw bale” construction techniques which is very environmentally sound and she uses solar energy almost exclusively, collects rain water to use, reuses other water, uses a solar oven, etc.  She has landscaped the place beautifully and it’s one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been!  She also has a hot tub for guest use at night and the stars were incredible!  There were incredible mountain views too.  Her breakfasts were also incredible!!!  This is another place to which we’d love to return.



We just aren’t used to this kind of “big sky” and wide open views in this part of the East!!!

Of course we spent some time going to museums in Tucson and Phoenix and enjoyed native American art:

And we saw lots of cacti!!!!

On the way up to Sedona we visited the Montezuma Castle National Monument which showcases the cliff dwellings of the Native Americans who were living in the southwest 800-1000 years ago:

A wonderful getaway just when winter seems to be lasting far too long!  I did manage to get a fair amount of EPP done as I was relaxing and enjoying the views.  Now that I’m home I am turning my attention to starting the center block for Sweet Journeys and tomorrow I am picking up the silk quilt from the long-armer who bastes quilts for me.   Deciding how to quilt it will be a challenge!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

March 4, 2018: Slow progress; more Japanese quilts; Vacation!

Greetings!  When one is working on several involved projects at once, progress can seem pretty slow, but that’s generally how I work.  The minutes spent here and there on a regular basis do add up over time and things finally get done, but my projects often take years to complete!  I’m OK with that, but sometimes there’s not much to show on my blog.  You can, however, by reading my blog, get a sense of the TIME and detailed work required to make my quilts.

Here is what my design wall looks like right now with 3 projects on it!

If you are a regular reader, you may notice the new doll quilt top on the far left:

I went on a tear this week, paper piecing the little 3 1/2 inch blocks and couldn’t stop till I had all 12 finished!   There are dozens of different fabrics in it.   The blocks are not sewn together yet and I may play some more with the setting before doing that, but the blocks for the center are done!  I am pretty sure I’ll add a somewhat narrow border.  I’ve been wanting to try out something in the blue/indigo – cheddar/gold colors and a doll quilt is a great way to do that.  Something that doesn’t take years!!!

I have been adding the embroidery stitches and little circles to the winter quilt blocks.  This is going to take a while and I still have lots of blocks to make.  Trust me, the colors and the patterns on the indigo fabrics and the shadings of blues in the background look a lot better in person than in my pictures!  I do think I am being successful in capturing the calm, quiet, contemplative mood I’m trying to convey with this quit:

I decided to go ahead with the “grapes” block for the center of “Sweet Journeys”.  I chose the fabrics, started to make the stems with my trusty Clover bias tape maker, made the templates, and started making some of the 180 (!!!) circles for the grapes:

And I took a few more hand quilting stitches in the Asian circles quilt:

Al and I are leaving tomorrow for a short vacation to Arizona!

We fly into Phoenix and then head right for Sedona for a few nights then off to the Tucson area before coming home on the 14th.  These are areas of Arizona we haven’t been to yet and we just wanted to escape the long New Hampshire winter for a short time.  It should be fun and relaxing.  I won’t blog again until after we return.

Remember this project?:

English Paper Piecing is the perfect travel project so I’m taking that with me.  I still have many, many of the connecting tan diamonds to add to the hexagon stars before I start sewing all the larger pieces together.

I’m closing today with another 4 of the Japanese quilts at the New England Quilt Museum.  Click on the pics to enjoy the details!!

This quilt was breathtakingly beautiful!!

I loved this art quilt!  I love the graphic power of the design and how she used line and color:

The next quilt was stunning in its detail – the old kimono fabrics!!  the colors!!  the hand work!!!

I have always been drawn to Japanese medallion style quilts.   The designs are intricate, often using “fussy cut” fabrics for added detail and I love the combination of piecing and appliqué.  The Japanese are known for this.  I particularly like the color choices in this one.  And the hand quilting!!!:

Will have some pictures from Arizona to share when I get back, plus still more pictures from NEQM and I still have some from Houston!!  Stay tuned!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi




February25, 2018: Project updates and Part 2 of Japanese Quilts at NEQM

Greetings!  I finished the first doll quilt top!

I really enjoyed paper piecing these 3 1/2 inch blocks and like how they look like hourglasses or pinwheels.  I’ve always liked patterns that produce secondary designs.  Last year my trio of doll quilts were all English paper pieced.  I think this year my trio will all be log cabin variations.  I’ve already started to pull fabrics for the next one!

“Sweet Journeys” has been in the works for a couple of years already.  I’ve been pondering ideas for a medallion style center and think I finally have my answer.  I put the blocks up on the design wall  – not in final order yet as I inadvertently put more of the blocks with birds and berries on the right side.  I put up some sashing strips to see how they would look.  I had a copy of the center design enlarged 300%n at Staples and this is what I have (click on pics to enlarge):

This pattern is from this book published 24 years ago:

It was the block used in a gorgeous antique quilt at Vermont a couple of years ago.  That quilt had 4 center blocks like the one above, but also a great matching border.  Sue Garman was contemplating making this quilt and publishing a pattern when she died and some of her friends are making the quilt anyway, in her honor.  I was loathe to commit to making the whole quilt as there are SO MANY BERRIES but I think I can handle one block.

As you can see, the block doesn’t quite fill up the space.  That’s on purpose to maintain some proper proportions.  I will add some sort of simple border around the outside of the block to fill the space and to separate it from the border blocks.  I would love to hear from any readers if they think this block is NOT a good idea for this quilt!!!  It’s going to be a lot of work and I would hate it to not look right!

The winter quilt was looking just a bit too plain for me:

So I started playing with some very skinny pieces of fabric to see what some added embroidery lines would look like and I added a circle at the tip:

I liked it enough to go ahead and do the embroidery and appliqué the circles on a few blocks:

On one block I went even further and added french knots:

But I don’t think the French knots look that good so have decided not to continue with them.  I like the more abstract look with just the straight embroidery lines and the circles at the tips.  Just the amount of extra interest I was looking for!

After I finished the block with the French knots, my granddaughter asked me how many knots were in the block.  Together we figured out that there are over 100.  If I had decided to do this with all 80 of the blocks I’m making for this quilt, that would have been over 8000 French knots!!!!  So glad I decided I don’t like them :):)

I finished hand quilting “We Are Stardust” in early December and did no hand quilting for over 2 1/2 months.  Now I have started hand quilting my Asian circles quilt.  It feels good to be hand quilting again:

And I put the binding on and finished the donation baby quilt I’m giving away:

Here are some more Japanese quilts from the NEQM for your viewing pleasure.  Make sure you enlarge the pictures so you can enjoy the wonderful details!

The details on this first one are amazing!!!

I absolutely love fall colors and leaves so this one took my breath away!  My autumn quilts have no blue in them and I love how she added contrast with deep, deep teal colors in the background.  I also liked that some of her fabric shimmered – she didn’t just use cotton:

The next one is an incredibly creative version of a Baltimore Album style quilt!  I also, of course, loved her use of red, my favorite color, for the background!!!

I really liked the bold graphic nature of this next one and her use of multiple colors.  Notice that it is entirely hand made!  I also like how she added the curved pieces to the outside blocks so the edge of the center of the quilt is not a straight line, but a series of curves and then she added curves to the outer border as well:

We had the grandkids with us for a few days this past week over their school vacation week.  My granddaughter Sveta loves her new quilt!

I had her make the label for it.

I think I was this flexible once a long time ago!!!:

Equal time for Dmitri:

We always play lots of games and music when they visit:

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi






February 16, 2018: New doll quilt started!; A special finish; Japanese quilts at the New England Quilt Museum

Greetings!  I wasn’t sure I was going to make a “Trio of Doll Quilts” this year, but was inspired this week to start one –  so I guess I am!!  This one is made up of 3 1/2 inch “courthouse steps” variation of the log cabin squares.  The setting is going to be 3 blocks across and 4 down (I think) and I have 6 of the 12 blocks done.

Each block requires 5 different green and red fabrics and 5 pink and yellow fabrics in addition to the fussy cut center.  Each block has 21 pieces.

I’m using 60 different fabrics even though the blocks look very similar.

I love the secondary pinwheels that occur when the blocks are set up in opposite directions.  You can see them if you squint!

Since my last post I made another bunch of palm leaf blocks so that I now have enough to set them 6 across and 7 down:

I took a break to ponder the size and try to determine how big I want this to be.  I’ve decided it should be at least 8 blocks across and 10 down.  These are 6 inch blocks so that would be 48 inches X 60 inches without a border; bigger with, which is my plan.  Next step is to make the rest of the blocks to bring it to that size and then see what I think.  I am also studying the blocks to see what kind of embellishment(s) might work well – not sure yet.

I’m loving the textures of the indigos and backgrounds:

I’m amazed at the versatility of the palm leaf block pattern.  Look how I’ve used it in 2 other of my quilts and see how very different the block looks based on the colors used and the setting/placement of the blocks.  Both these quilts have 6 inch blocks just like the Winter quilt:

My first “finish” of the year is the quilt I made with my granddaughter!  I can’t believe it’s been waiting around for over a year for the quilting, but now is finally done.

Here’s the quilting done by long armer Linda Bevins, front and back:

I can’t wait to get a label on it and give it to Sveta!!!  She picked out all the fabrics from my stash.   I cut out the pieces.  She arranged them on the design wall; I pinned the pieces together.  She did all the sewing on my sewing machine!   I just finished putting on the binding.  We had a lot of fun together and I hope we get to do this again.

I was able to go back to the New England Quilt Museum a couple days ago with 2 of my friends. It was great to share my exhibit with them.  I also finally had a chance to really look at the wonderful Japanese quilts on exhibit.  I took pictures of 24 of the quilts and will share the first 4 with you today.  Click on the pics to enlarge and enjoy the details!!!

Here are my friends Van and Sarah standing beside my quilt, Myriad:

I think this quilt was my favorite of the Japanese quilts.  I just love everything about it.  I love that it features circles and a tree – both favorite symbols of mine – and the hand quilting is amazing:

Make sure you read the artist statement on this one – how she loves fabric!  This is gorgeous use of fabric!!:

I love how the quilting enhances the overall design on this one:

This is a beautiful traditional quilt with exquisite hand quilting and appliqué (and it’s hand pieced too!!!!):


Finally, isn’t this an absolutely gorgeous bouquet I got for Valentine’s Day?!!!!

My husband is the best!!!!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi


February 10, 2018: “Winter” quilt progress and more

Greetings.  Since my last post, I have been very focused on making palm leaf blocks for the Winter quilt and loving the process.  I really do enjoy foundation piecing and machine work is a nice change of pace from the usual hand stitching I always have going,

Here is what I have so far – a full picture with several closeups of individual blocks so you can enjoy the fabrics (click on them to enlarge them):


I am really liking the bold graphic design with an emphasis on diagonal lines going in opposite directions that occurs with setting the blocks in straight rows and alternating the way the palm leaves point.  I will eventually play with different arrangements, but not sure I’ll find something  I like better than this!  I am also enjoying the subtle differences in the shades of blue and aqua and tan in the backgrounds and the different patterns in the indigos.  Having lots of different  dark and light fabrics adds a lot of interesting texture to the piece.  Besides the 18 different pieces of indigo in the fat quarter bundle that inspired this project, I found another dozen suitable indigos left over from another project that I can use to add even more variety.   And I’ve ordered several more light blues and aquas on line that should be coming soon.  I’m dreaming of a dark indigo border background with some sort of appliqué of the lighter blue and aqua fabrics…..And I’m pondering whether any embroidery embellishments on the main quilt would add interest or detract from the graphic power of the basic design….And I don’t know yet how large the quilt wil be….

When I started the Winter project, the only foundation paper I had on hand was this:

It is vellum and works quite well, but in the past I haven’t liked it as much as (because harder to rip off) Carol Doak’s paper which has been my “go to” foundation for some time now:

So I went off to the nearest JoAnn’s to buy the Carol Doak product and at first didn’t see any.  What I saw was this June Taylor product:

I decided to buy a pack of it to try even though I also found a pack of the Carol Doak paper and bought that too.  I think I am now hooked on the June Taylor foundation sheets!!!  These are not really paper, but more like a soft interfacing with enough body to hold their shape and go through a printer and they are a real pleasure to work with.  I mentioned in a recent post how I am drawn to the TACTILE nature of making quilts and working with cloth.  From a TACTILE standpoint, the June Taylor sheets are so much nicer than paper!  And I did a trial and they rip off easily.  However, they are quite a bit more expensive.

The Carol Doak papers are 10 cents a sheet (100 for $10.00).  The Vellum papers are #30 for $10.00 so about 33 cents per sheet.  And the June Taylor foundation sheets were #50 for $14.99 so that comes out to 30 cents per sheet.  If money is an issue the Carol Doak papers are perfectly adequate.  My plan, however, is to get the June Taylor sheets whenever I can using this!:

The coupon makes them reasonably priced at about 15 cents a sheet!

I have almost completed the Lyre block:

I forgot to mention in the last post that the lyre is one of the hardest things I’ve appliquéd because it is all one piece.  The space between the strings had to be cut down the center and I barely had 1/8 inch of fabric to needle turn under – very difficult.  In fact, don’t look too close!!

Now I have to figure out the appliqué design for the big area in the center of this quilt – it’s not going to be easy!  Proportion is going to be very important since the block is 4X bigger than the others.

I found the most amazingly perfect backing fabric for my silk quilt, Star Trek.  It’s a digital print from Hoffman and is supposed to look like nebulae that one would see from the Hubble telescope:

This piece is not silk – I was worried about using silk for the backing because I felt it would need interfacing and I didn’t want to add yet another layer to quilt through.  I think the cotton backing will add some stability.  I do have a silk batting.

I mentioned in a previous post how much binding I’m going to be sewing the next few weeks – I made over 800 inches of binding for 4 quilts.  Then I went and volunteered to sew the binding down on my guild’s raffle quilt for this year and it is a behemoth at over 100 inches square!!!

It’s the “Amish with a Twist” pattern.  Sue Foster did a masterful job quilting it. Notice that there is piping at the edge of the binding too – a wonderful detail.  I think we are going to raise a lot of money for charity with this!!!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi


February 4, 2018: 1. New project! 2.Update on “Sweet Journeys” 3. More from Houston!

Greetings!  It was exactly a year ago that I was in the hospital in Thailand, one day post-op from my elbow surgery and dealing with a patellar fracture in my right knee as well.  The next 3 months were NOT fun.   So happy that all that is in the past!  The injuries have left me with some minor permanent changes, but nothing life changing.  I am less NIMBLE than I was before and that reminds me that I’m in the “young old age” phase of life.  I want to enjoy as much of life while I can and I am very lucky to be in relatively good health overall.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you may remember that I came home from the Houston Quilt Festival with a stack of indigo fat quarters:

Since then I have been periodically thinking about what to do with them.  I have been itching to start a foundation paper piecing project as I really enjoy that technique as a break from all the hand work I do.  And I haven’t had a foundation paper piecing project since piecing the silk quilt and that part was done several months ago.  The past couple weeks my focus on starting something with these – which will be “Spirit of Japan #5″ in the series – became serious.  I considered numerous possibilities.  Initially I was thinking something ” blue and white” but didn’t like the plain creamy white fabric I had – too plain!  Then I considered indigo and cheddar, but when I pulled some cheddar fabrics and looked at them with the indigo, I wasn’t thrilled – too many “creamy colored patterns” in the indigo pieces.  I though about pairing them with brightly colored Japanese fabrics, but thought I should try something different.   Then I pulled a creamy-taupe fabric from my stash and liked it with the indigo:

The fabric above has some gray-bluish hints in it that you might not be able to see well in the picture.  Then I decided I needed some very very light blues and teals and decided the quilt will be a “winter” quilt.  I love the seasons and have made autumn and spring quilts.  This could be my winter quilt!  I have supplemented the indigos and the taupe fabric with the following:

After VERY MUCH deliberation re what kind of foundation piecing pattern I want to use, I decided to start making palm leaf blocks – AGAIN!  I am so drawn to this block and now this will be my third quilt using it.  That means I have “criss crossing series” going!!!  i.e. my 5th Spirit of Japan and my third palm leaf quilt.

The pale background colors will be a departure for me since I often use lots of different colors in my quilts.  I don’t yet have an overall design – will make blocks and then play with them.  I’ve been influenced to try something different by this book:

The author talks about the Japanese cancept, “iki”, which is hard to translate into English, but relates to  “a matter of taste” and in Japan is associated with 3 color schemes – gray, taupe, and blue.  We’ve seen some of this in the taupe Japanese quilts of Yoko Saito.  You can see it also in the indigo/blue quilts of Shizuko Kuroha (and others!).  She shows some examples in the book:

So I am happily into a new project!  And I have a second new project in mind for the other group of fabrics I bought in Houston – more on that another time.

Meanwhile, I completed the basket block for “Sweet Journeys” and am working on the harp block:

Here’s the quilt on my design wall with the opening in the center (click to enlarge):

I have to decide whether to do one large block in the center or 4 more smaller blocks – am leaning to one large block and thinking about/looking at possibilities.

Recently Wendy (The Constant Quilter blog) asked her readers how many quilts they have going at a time.  I believe she has a list of 31 with 16 of them “active.”  Many folks have a couple dozen or more.  I think I am something of an abberation.  I now – having just added the indigo quilt discussed above – have 7 quilts going and THAT’S IT!!  This is pretty normal for me: 5-8 projects at once.  I tend to think very carefully before starting any project about whether it is going to be something I will be able to commit to for a long time – do I really like the fabrics, the design or design potential, the techniques, etc.  Then, when I start, I usually stick with it even if it takes years.  I like to have at least one quilt in the hand quilting stage, one being hand appliquéd, and one being machine pieced (foundation paper and/or not).  Now I have an EPP project going too.  I like the option of doing different techniques when I’m in the mood.

Today I’m sharing pictures from the Cherrywood Challenge special exhibit at the Houston show.  Wow!!!  The colors and quilts were simply wonderful!  Click on the pictures to enlarge them and enjoy the details:

And I’m still not done with pics from Houston!

Be kind, be generous, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi