March 28, 2023: Walking; Quilting projects update; Japanese quilts

Greetings dear readers! Two days ago there was a wonderful guest essay in the New York Times titled “ Whatever the Problem, It’s Probably Solved By Walking.” It emphasizes how walking is not only great for us physically, but for our mental, spiritual, and intellectual health as well. It fuels our creativity! It reminded me of the article on “awe” walks that I mentioned some time ago. It also reminded me that one of the very few good things to come out of the pandemic for me was becoming a dedicated walker. I enjoy walking alone, but I’m now also much more likely to meet a friend for a walk rather than for a lunch. Sharing a walk is one of life’s real pleasures! I’m looking for signs of spring now. Trees are just starting to bud out, a couple weeks earlier than usual, I think. Here’s the pussy willow tree at the pond:

And here is a group of shag bark hickory trees followed by a photo of a bud, soon to begin opening:

The green color of this lichen is intense – welcome color in the winter landscape, especially against the snow which still lingers in patches shaded from the sun:

The green of the moss also adds color before all the other flora of spring and summer take over:

Meanwhile, in the sewing room, a dozen more log cabin blocks have been completed:

Showing the next four as a group:

Only 8 more blocks to go!

I completed the hand quilting on the 9th (of 12) block of “Sweet Journeys” – slow but steady progress!

Appliquéing those little circles on vacation sparked a desire to do some more appliqué, prompting me to get out this quilt top which has been hibernating for a while:

The 72 border leaves were all basted down, but the final appliqué stitching needed to be done, so I got started and have one side completed!
I recently made the appointment for my machine to have its annual cleaning and servicing. I am religious about doing this and think it’s one of the reasons my trusty Bernini has NEVER given me any trouble during the 19 years I’ve had it! I’m one of the few quilters who has only ONE machine so will have to focus on hand work during the week it’s in the shop. How many machines do you have, dear reader? Do you have them regularly serviced?

I do love having my machine set into the table!!

Browsing through Instagram I have noticed that in the past 6 months there have been a couple of quilt shows in Japan, one in Yokohama in November and one in Tokyo this month. I think they are trying to come up with something to replace the Tokyo International Quilt Festival which folded after the 2020 show. I’m keeping an eye on this as I would love to go back some day. Here are 3 quilts from those shows that caught my eye. The first one is by Sanada Masako – incredible piecing!

The next one is by Kurihara Yoshiko. I’ve seen and loved her work before – she does a great job depicting human figures and faces in a graphic sort of way:

I couldn’t find the name of the maker of this stunning flower quilt:

I’ll finish with 2 more sunset photos from Costa Rica:

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

March 21, 2023: Travel project; “Spirit of Japan #7”; more CR photos

Greetings dear readers! Happy spring! I am relishing the extra daylight hours. Even though the weather and the landscape here in northern New England still look and feel like winter, I know that welcome change is coming soon.
Like many quilters, I like to have a handwork project with me when I travel. For the trip to Costa Rica, I needed something small that wouldn’t taken up room in my carry-on bag and something that would be very easy to do. Nothing already in the works fit the bill. Nothing is easier and more relaxing than appliquéing circles, so I prepped 25 little 2 inch circles to appliqué onto 3 1/2 inch squares, knowing I could figure out what to do with them later – a mini, a pillow, a medallion center for something larger, etc. Here are some of the blocks I made:

I finished more than half on the trip and the rest soon after getting home and started playing with them on the design wall:

I cut setting triangles and here’s what I have so far:

When sewn together, this will be only a bit over 16 inches square – pretty small. Not sure yet whether I’ll stop here or make it bigger. Also thinking about adding some embroidery embellishments. Fun!

My Japanese log cabin quilt is #7 in my “Spirit of Japan” series. I’m thinking about calling it “ Treasure Trove” because of the “treasure trove” of fabrics it features. I’m now up to 100 blocks, 20 more to go!

Here are closeups of the most recently completed blocks:

I am truly enjoying using and appreciating these lovely fabrics. I would love to hear from anyone else who is using this style of fabric since I rarely seem to see them anymore in shows, magazines, blogs, etc.

I’ll be sharing more photos from Costa Rica over the next few posts, especially since my own landscape is still pretty barren. The colorful flora was such a welcome change!! The first photo is ginger:

The abstract lines and colors of some palm tree trunks were startlingly beautiful:

We took a boat trip through a mangrove forest and those tangled trunks were very sculptural:

One place we had lunch outdoors had a half dozen peacocks – gorgeous! They were making quite a racket. I’ve seen a few over my lifetime, but not sure I’d ever heard them squawking before. That blue color is so intense and beautiful!

The skies were incredible. Huge clouds would just sit in place for long stretches of time and sometimes there would be storm clouds over the mountains with beautiful sun a short distance away over the beach.

The sunset from the hot tub at the villa:

Enjoy the rest of National Quilting Month with some fun stitching!

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

March 17, 2023: Costa Rica!

Greetings dear readers! We just got home very late Wednesday evening from our wonderful vacation in Costa Rica and have been catching up on tasks and trying to get used to the time change – as well as the cold weather! This post will be a quick summary. We rented a villa on the side of a mountain in the Central Pacific Coastal region of the country with 7 other people:

5 of the travelers were friends and family of the couple who invited us to join the group and we made some wonderful new friends!

The views from the villa, about 1300 feet above sea level, out over the Pacific were spectacular!

Here’s a view from the infinity pool in front of the villa:

I was up by 5 AM every day and able to enjoy the sunrise with amazing birds, including toucans, singing and flying about:

We went on guided tours of a national park, a mangrove wildlife preserve, and an animal rescue center and saw some wonderful birds and and animals. Some of these are my photos and some were taken through the guide’s spotting lens. We saw several sloths:

and capuchin monkeys:

Lots of lizards:

And birds:

We visited and swam at some beautiful beaches:

We hiked to a beautiful waterfall and swam in the pool at its foot:

That was the lower falls; this is the upper falls just above:

You could swim at the base of this taller part of the falls, too (see the group of people lower right), but the rocks getting there were too slippery for us 🙂.

Beautiful plants were everywhere!

Renting the villa included the services of a chef for all breakfasts and dinners. They were all excellent, featuring lots of local fish and fruit. The pineapple is superb and we were served some fabulous seviches.
We were treated to several spectacular sunsets:

I took a very small appliqué project with me and did very little sewing on the trip – too many other fun activities to do and friends to talk with. I’ll share it and other sewing updates in the next post and will share some more CR photos too.
Wishing you all a good weekend. Looking forward to spring!

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

March 2, 2023: New blocks; Quilt Con thoughts; traveling!

Greetings dear readers! I’ve been busy making block’s for the basket quilt and the log cabin, as well as doing some hand quilting. Here are my 8 new baskets:

I have 88 baskets, 10 more to go before arranging them and starting to sew them together. I think there will be a narrow green sashing.

The latest 4 log cabin blocks:

I played around one day with a pinwheel arrangement for some of the blocks (upper right corner):

I decided I didn’t like it as much as the “sunshine and shadows” arrangement so changed it back. Before sewing any blocks together, I’ll likely play some more before making a final decision.

I continue to purge, clean, and organize, bit by bit. My needles had been scattered in several places. I organized them into 2 plastic boxes, each 6 X 7 inches, 2 inches high. The one with my hand quilting needles also has my thimbles and cots I use for pulling thread:

I don’t think I need to buy another needle as long as I live!😊

This week on Instagram, I’ve been looking at a lot of quilts from the Quilt Con show. I also looked at the photos of all the winners on the web site of the Modern Quilt Guild. Luana Rubin from also posted dozens of excellent photos from the show. Go to any of these places to see some interesting quilts! As a pretty dedicated traditional quilter, I have mixed feelings about “modern” quilts. Some are wonderful and some leave me cold, but I think that’s true of traditional quilts as well. I have a love affair with printed fabrics and love figuring out how to combine them and show them off, but a majority of modern quilts use solids, significantly upping the importance of the design. I’m not necessarily saying there’s anything wrong with that. There were lots of quilts with Big Stitch hand quilting – which is good!! – but I’m not sure I saw any quilts with “traditional” hand quilting. Is the latter skill devalued and dying out? When is a quilt an “art quilt” rather than a “modern” one? I would love to have been at the show to see the workmanship up close. I’m very against the ideal of perfectionism and feel that it, rather than design and visual impact, has been too emphasized by judges in the past so have been happy to see the pendulum swing away from it recently. However, the pendulum could go too far. I have seen erratic quilting lines and visible thread nests called “organic”. Is this OK? In general I like the “big tent” of quilting that holds us all. Those are some of my thoughts! Feel free to let me know what you think!

It’s been either snowing or raining here almost every day for a week now. The snow is always lovely, but Al is tired of all the shoveling and snow blowing 🙁. The view from a window in my sewing room at sunrise:

Later with the sun out:

The snow on branches is pretty:

On my walk yesterday, the elk were running across the field – a sight not often seen:

I will probably take a break from blogging next week because we are traveling – to Costa Rica! Our first flight and first international trip since the pandemic. What a great way to escape from the ice and snow. I’m so looking forward to exploring the exotic landscape and wildlife and not having to wear numerous layers of clothes. We get back late on the 15th if all goes well. It will be less than a week till spring at that point 😊.
Wishing you all a good final 3 weeks of winter!

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

February 21, 2023: Thread; Baskets; LC blocks; and Earthly Delights

Greetings dear readers! Although my thread has been fairly well organized all along, I was able to further improve things this past week as I worked on cleaning out the sewing room. I am much more of a “fabriholic” than a “thread-aholic”😊. Nevertheless, over 30 years, I managed to accumulate a fair amount. I added a third stack of drawers and this is where most of my thread for quilting resides, sorted by colors:

The only drawer not arranged by color has my collection of 30 weight Gutterman silk, my favorite thread for hand quilting. These drawers all contain 50, 60, and 80 weight threads and I mostly use them for hand and machine appliqué and hand piecing. I also have a box full of spools of 100 wt. silk thread for appliqué and a drawer full of all kinds of embroidery thread for embellishments. Finally, I have one of these wall units for larger spools of thread:

I used to match my machine piecing thread to the color of fabric I was using, but over the past several years I have almost totally transitioned to using neutrals. For my bobbin thread, I almost exclusively use Superior’s “The Bottom Line.” It is a thin 60 wt polyester and I keep 6 colors in stock: light, medium, and dark gray and brown:

These 6 work for almost any fabrics I’m using and each bobbin holds a lot so I don’t run out so often. For the top thread, my machine, a Bernini 440 QE, likes 50 wt. Aurifil or Mettler and I also use mostly neutrals there too. How do you organize and manage your thread use?

In the somewhat gloomy depths of winter, I needed a little more color in my life so I made a few more baskets for Ursula’s quilt. These colors definitely brightened my mood!😊:

That brings me to 80 baskets – 18 to go!!

Of course I continued to make some more log cabin blocks as well – up to 84 of those, 36 to go.

I don’t think I mentioned that my “fabric pull” for this quilt is about 400 different fabrics! I’m probably using about 250 of them – the ones I like the best🙂, of course – several times and the others maybe one or twice overall. I am loving mixing up these fabrics and one of the enjoyments of this quilt throughout its lifetime is going to be studying all the fabrics in it. Here’s a closer look at 4 blocks. The first one has pieces of a vintage indigo fabric I bought at the Tokyo International Quilt Festival in 2010:

In the next one, the pink fabric with the circles is a piece of kimono fabric I bought in Kyoto. The reddish brown fabric is a special type of woven Japanese fabric called (I think!) “tsumugi” – I bought a roll of several different colors from “Quilters Express to Japan” years ago.

This one has authentic indigo fabric and the darker green is a piece of Oakshott cotton that fits in:

Another indigo in this one, plus some lovely taupes, especially the dark brown on the edge:

I’m almost finished with the next block in Sweet Journeys!

I’ve also added more lines in the center medallion. It doesn’t look great yet, because there’s a lot still to be quilted in there, but it’s good to see progress!

Often when cleaning and purging one finds some hidden treasures. Look what I found:

I EPP’d these several years ago for a demonstration I did on English Paper Piecing and had them packed away – out of sight, out of mind. I really do like them a lot and I might want to make some more of these! They use Tula Pink fabrics and I have some more of those lying around, waiting for me…..😊. I think, however, I should wait till I finish my other hexagon star project!

Yesterday was 55 degrees out and whatever snow was on the ground had all melted. I decided to walk to the bog since the path can be treacherous when snow covered.

The moss was lovely and several shades of green:

The moisture in the bog was still ice:

This morning it snowed and things are white again! Such is the way with winter! Just think – spring is only one month away 🙂. Hope you are all enjoying some relaxing stitching.

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

February 14, 2023: Keeping busy through the heart of winter; shopping; Earthly Delights

Greetings dear readers! I continue to make more log cabin blocks and am now up to 76!

The photos don’t really do justice to the lovely subtle colors. A bit closer:

Did I say something in my last post about trying to not purchase more fabric? It’s true – I’m “trying”😊. But I had an excuse to shop recently! When I was a winner of my guild’s Challenge competition last August, I won a $50.00 gift certificate to one of my favorite quilt shops, “Quilted Threads” and didn’t have an opportunity to get to the shop till last week. It’s an easy 1 hour drive away and well worth the trip! It’s the only shop within driving distance that has a room full of authentic Japanese and “taupe” fabrics. I collected a lot of these type fabrics over the years, but – as is typical for me – I had a dearth of certain light value fabrics, especially greens and blues, so that was my main mission. Sorry for the blurry photo, but here’s part of their room of taupes:

A little closer and then the wall behind me:

I purchased a bunch of quarter yard pieces and “mostly” 😊 stayed within budget. Most of the pieces were from Yoko Saito’s newer “Centenary” collection:

I needed some hard to find darker greens too:

I’ve already used most of them in the newest LC blocks. One of my readers – thank you Elizabeth! – commented after my post on “renegades and sparklers” that she thought Roberta Horton had introduced to her, long ago, the idea of sparklers, but wasn’t sure about renegades. I figured, right away, that I might well have come upon those terms previously in all the books and magazines I’ve read over the years. I pulled out this wonderful book by Roberta that I hadn’t looked at in years:

And look what I found!:

RENEGADES! The term has probably been buried “subliminally” in my brain for a while. Fascinating how something like that just pops out sometimes. I did not, however, find the term “sparklers” in the book, though can’t say I read it word for word. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if others have used it along the way and it was also buried in my brain waiting to come out at the appropriate moment 🙂.

Here’s my design wall – there’s something new on it:

I’ve been diligently working on purging and organizing, trying to give an hour or two per day to it. I have a basket overflowing with charm squares of repro style fabrics and decided that making these into half square triangles would be a good start on a donation quilt. Making at least 3 donation quilts is one of my goals for the year and with charm squares the basic cutting is already done and one can get to the sewing right away.

I will make a ton of blocks, even as I continue to work on my other projects, then play with different settings before sewing blocks together.

I’m happy to report my cleaning and organizing are going well! I started with the closet which was a nightmare – no “before” photos!🙂. I do, though, have a photo of it about half done; the lower 2 shelves are still waiting for attention:

I’ve paid special attention to labeling everything and making things I need accessible:

I’ve hauled away 2 large garbage bags of stuff and set aside bags of things for either my town’s swap shop or my guild’s “free stuff” table. I still have quite a bit to do, but am feeling very good about the progress I’ve made!

I managed to get 3 more hexagon stars made (plus some hand quilting) while watching the Super Bowl on Sunday:

I read quite a few blogs and enjoy following links to other sites and exploring some of them. I can’t remember how I came across this web site – Collosal ( – but it’s a great site with wonderful posts on art, design, crafts, and photography. I highly recommend it. In the Crafts section, there was a post on 1/25 on Julia Shore’s “Mossy Embroideries” which I found to be lovely!

I love these and they remind me so much of what I’m looking at on my winter walks:

And the lichens:

Here’s a recent shot of the pond:

I love finding and looking at the stark beauty of the hibernating and partly dead plants surrounding the pond:

Wishing you all happy stitching!

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

February 7, 2023: Understanding color; Being realistic

Greetings dear readers! I seem to be really focused on 2 projects these days, piecing the Japanese log cabin (LC)and hand quilting Sweet Journeys. Working on the LC has been a really immersive experience. I’m into the flow of the process, working from start to finish – choosing the fabrics, cutting, sewing, adding to design wall – in groups of 4 blocks at a time. I’m up to 64 blocks!

Color is a bit distorted on the left side of the photo. If I stopped now, 8 blocks x 8 blocks, it would finish at 48 inches square. Pretty sure I’m aiming for at least 10 x 12 blocks (120) for a 60 x 72 inch top. Then I’ll assess whether I want it larger, whether to make more blocks, whether to add a border, etc. For now, I’ll just keep making blocks. And while I’m making them, I’m often thinking about color choices and combinations.

I’ve never formally studied color, but I’ve done some reading about it in quilting books and magazines over the years. I’m pretty good at working intuitively with color and am frequently praised by judges for my choices. Seeing both the LC blocks and my basket blocks on the design wall at the same time has made me think about their different use of color and reminded me about an important aspect of color that Joen Wolfrom helped me to understand in her book “Adventures in Design.”

In the book, she talks about the 4 major color SCALES. PURE colors are the clear, bright colors you see on the typical color wheel. TINTS are hues created when WHITE is added to pure colors. The other 2 scales are SHADES and TONES. Here’s what she says about those:

My Japanese LC is primarily a combination of SHADES – the darks – and TONES – the lights. I realize that the reason I’ve rejected a number of fabric choices for this quilt is that they are tints or pure colors. I also realize that the reason some of my choices are RENEGADES or SPARKLERS is that they lean towards being tints or pure colors. Careful and judicious use of them is OK, though.

In this mini, I used PURE colors in the center of several blocks, TINTing lighter as the design spins out. The gray background subdues the impact of the brightness:

Here are my baskets, using mostly pure colors and tints:

And here are examples of the log cabin blocks, using mostly SHADES and TONES:

“Taupe” fabrics and what I’ve been calling “authentic” Japanese fabrics are mostly shades and tones. Many – but by no means all! – reproduction fabrics are shades and tones. Many modern quilts use pure colors or tints. What color SCALES do you prefer or tend to use the most? I like the challenge of combining 2 or more of the scales in the same piece. The heart and soul of what I love to do is the marrying of beautiful fabric and color with what I hope will be interesting design. I’m loving playing with shades and tones in this LC quilt!

Another task I’m working on these days is continuing to purge magazines and books. And, after that, I hope to get rid of at least some other “stuff” I’ve accumulated. I’m making myself think of the first noble truth in Buddhism – “right view” or clarity of vision. I’ll be 74 in a few weeks and I need to be ruthlessly honest with myself about what type of quilting and how much I’ll likely want and be able to do in the future. Some former interests no longer seem compelling. A start would be to get rid of at least one shelf of books! Then another after the first shock wears off😊.

For example, I don’t believe I really want, anymore, to do the type of floral appliqué in these books:

I’m purging most issues of Quiltmania prior to issue #100. The current one is 152 and I started collecting at #50. Also getting rid of any remaining American Quilter Society magazines. It’s a start, but very hard for a magazine-aholic!

I don’t buy patterns or kits, so nothing to get rid of there. I need to purge tools, templates, design ideas I’ll never use. For the time being not giving away fabric (I do need to face this at some point!), but trying to not buy new!

Here’s the latest block for Sweet Journeys on which the hand quilting is completed:

Temps went from minus 11 Saturday to mid 40’s yesterday and are predicted to be mid 50’s by Friday – crazy weather! At least I’m back outside walking!

Happy stitching to all!

Be kind be grateful and cherish each day, Gladi

February 2, 2023: “The running stitch” and other odds and ends

Greetings dear readers! They say the groundhog saw his shadow this morning and that we are in for 6 more weeks of winter. We’ll see…..that would be usual for northern New England anyway. What I can say for sure is that we are headed for brutal cold this weekend. I’ll be waking Saturday morning to 9 degrees below zero and winds of 20 mph, making it feel much colder than that. Needless to say, I won’t leave the house unless I have to!
The “running stitch” seems to me to be a good metaphor for what this Saturday will be – and many of my days at home are – like. I am “in and out” of my sewing room all day. I pop in there and work on a project for “x” amount of time, then break to read for a while, then back to the sewing room, then a break to practice the accordion, then back to the sewing room, then a break for a walk, then back to the sewing room, etc. all day. Sewing is woven into my day – in and out; off and on – like the running stitch. It’s a satisfying way to live and the stitch itself is a comfort to perform. I still enjoy these Sashiko pillows I made several years ago using mostly the simple running stitch:

No need to get fancy to make something beautiful!

I recently came across this lovely quote by Cecile Lewis which Jen Hewitt used at the beginning of her book “This Long Thread; Women of Color on Craft, Community, and Connection” : “The stitch is a human invention that binds us. It is an old, expressive, and universally understood language. The stitch is ubiquitous in its application. It mends tattered garments and surgical incisions. It holds together the precious elements of haute couture as well as the blocks of a quilt that welcomes a new baby. The stitch closes the winding sheet. Humans have employed stitches throughout history. The stitch is made with a thread that encircles the globe. It travels through continents, cultures, and eras. I am just another hand that touches this long, long thread.”

I am grateful for and love being part of the stitching community!

For today’s post, I want to show some photos that I just haven’t gotten around to sharing yet. First, 3 more kimonos from the New York exhibit. These are modern in style. I can’t imagine actually wearing the spider one!:

Two more quilts from the exhibit of Log Cabin quilts at the NEQM:

It’s not common to see purple block centers! And there are definitely some “renegades and sparklers” in there!

And 2 more quilts from the Tomie Nagano exhibit:

This weekend I’ll be working on my own log cabin/ Sunshine and Shadows which is now up to 48 completed blocks – pretty sure I need at least 120:

And I’ll be continuing to read Barbara Kingsolver’s new book, which I’m half way through and liking very much even though it deals with some tough subjects:

Wherever you are, I hope you stay warm this weekend and that you enjoy some stitching!

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

January 27, 2023: Winter Wonderland; “Renegades and Sparklers”

Greetings dear readers! Three snowstorms in the past week left us living in a winter wonderland. Usually the snow melts right off the trees in a matter of hours, but this time the first snow was wet and heavy and the temperatures plummeted, leaving the snow cemented to the branches. It was very beautiful.

But then the second storm came 2 days later and the weight of all that extra snow on the trees and branches started causing them to break and fall.

In the above photo you can see how the power lines are vulnerable to falling trees and branches. We lost power for 36 hours 🙁. There was quite a bit of damage everywhere in New Hampshire. A big branch came down and blocked the entrance to our front yard:

After the third storm I was able to take a walk through the neighborhood and see the damage. The next photo is a good representation of what I saw repeatedly, i.e. the stump on the right with the broken off top and the limbs lying on the ground:

Another example:

Of course, there are so many trees around here that once the brush is cleared away you hardly notice anything missing. A good example of how nature can be beautiful, but destructive at the same time. I took this photo on my walk – liked the lines the reflected trees made in the water and the “taupe” coloring of the scene 🙂:

I’ve been making excellent progress on my Japanese log cabin – up to 36 blocks! I’m removing basket blocks from the design wall as this encroaches 🙂:

I’m truly enjoying the process. I chain sew 4 blocks at a time. In preparation, I choose fabrics for several blocks, 5 lights and 5 darks for each one:

I cut the fabrics for each log in numerical order, per the card in the photo, and make little stacks:

And here are 4 blocks being sewn, all four “2’s” sewn on in one round, then pressed and trimmed, then all four “3’s”, etc. through #21. Then on to the next group of 4 blocks.

As I work, I’ve been thinking about and studying my fabric choices. Value/contrast is hugely important. I’ve been able to use some mid-value fabrics by surrounding them with appropriate lighter or darker fabrics. In each grouping I try to have a mix of different colors. But I’ve noticed that the log cabin design is very amenable to what I’ve come to call “renegades and sparklers.” These are fabrics that might initially seem to not fit in or feel out of place, but, once incorporated, add some zest to the overall appearance. In the photo below, the blue and white fabric would seem to be a “renegade” but actually looks fine next to those vintage darker fabrics next to it:

The striped fabric on the edge of this block is definitely a renegade. I can mitigate the effect by adding more pieces of it in other areas or I can move it to an edge to make it less noticeable. Or I can leave it there, especially if there are many other renegades and sparklers taking up attention!

The blue and white fabric in the next one is a renegade, but I think it will ultimately be OK; if not, it could become an orphan:

Examples of “sparklers” are the yellow fabric in the next photo and the gold fabric in the photo after that:

A couple more closeups:

Because I can’t really use my sewing room during power outages, I used that time this week to make progress on the border of Sweet Journeys:

Here’s the hoop I use – 14 inches square – and what’s in it right now (not the best color):

Happy stitching to you all!

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

January 20, 2023: Looking Ahead…Inspiration is key

Greetings dear readers! While thinking ahead into the new year and what my hopes and desires for quilting might be, I realized that this March marks the 30th anniversary of my decision to make my first quilt. 30 years!! It’s been a wonderful journey with a profound impact on my life, for which I am incredibly grateful. I keep up with the quilting world, closely, in many ways – blogs, Instagram, magazines, books, videos, a subscription to “The Quilt Show,” etc. The many changes in quilting over those 30 years have been striking, especially technological advances in tools and communication and in design aesthetics. We seem to be in a “Modern” quilt making movement – whatever that means, exactly!! – at the moment, with “traditional” quilt making hanging in there, but perhaps struggling just a bit to stay in the limelight, and plenty of art quilters out there doing amazing work. What has connected us all and continues to connects us is a love of textiles and stitching.

I’ve thought quite a bit about where I fit in all of this. I consider myself to be a “traditional quilt artist” because my style is traditional and I love to use traditional quilt blocks and designs, but I love to play with those blocks, play with colors, play with fabrics, and combine all those elements in ways to create my own design variations, rather than use commercial patterns most of the time. I feel that I am able to express myself artistically through “traditional” quilt making.
I question sometimes, though, whether I’m in a rut and should explore making art or modern quilts, but even though I admire many of them, my heart and mind generally aren’t inspired in that direction. I think it’s as simple as that – I need to keep going where I’m inspired to go!! So, that’s my overarching goal for the year – to be open to inspiration and to try to make sure I find the time and space to act on that inspiration. It also makes sense to continue with last year’s goals: explore, play, progress, and finish! Rather than give a laundry list of specific projects that need progress and finishes this year in this blog, I’ll cover those things gradually throughout the year.

Another goal is to spend plenty of time with the quilting community – my guild, my bee, shows, workshops, retreats, etc. I also want to try to make more donation quilts. Many of you know there will be no more “Monthly Minis.” When Wendy (The Constant Quilter) announced the end of her hosting it after 5 years, I’d already decided I was taking a break from it to focus on getting other projects done. Many thanks to Wendy for hosting so long!! I think I will always make small quilts, but now, instead of monthly, it will be just when I’m inspired!🙂

Of course, one of my clear goals for 2023 is to finish “Sweet Journeys.” I try to get some hand quilting done every day. I completed another block:

I am intermittently adding stitching to the center medallion:

I also intermittently add rows of stitching to the border, but won’t bore you with another photo of that yet. The point is, it all starts to add up to significant progress!

The INSPIRATION I received from the Tomie Nagano exhibit is driving me right along to make more log cabin blocks. Since I last posted, I’ve gone from 4 blocks done to 20!!

Closeups of the newer blocks:

Making these blocks has been a challenge in the importance of “value” in creating the design. There are definitely some “in between” fabrics whose placement has to be carefully considered. Luckily, this design is pretty forgiving for some of the outliers.

Some of the “taupe” fabrics have the vibe of “reproduction” fabrics; some pieces from my other stash of Asian fabrics fit; some subtle solids work. I’m able use some pieces from other parts of my stash so it’s been fun combing through them adding to the variety I can include.

Here’s what my design wall looks like right now:

I’m currently liking the “Sunshine and Shadows” setting for the LC blocks, but no idea whether that’s how they’ll wind up. I just saw this quote in my reading, “Wisdom sees that light and dark are inseparable and that shadows are also light.” If I stick with this variation, “Inseparable” might be a name for it!
I’ve got 14 new baskets in the works, currently appliquéing handles before sewing the pieces together.

I’m sharing 2 more quilts today from the Nagano exhibit:

Beautiful fabrics, beautiful stitching! And the fact that these are all pieces of clothing that someone wore adds real meaning to the piece.

I have to include some recent Earthly Delights!

I just finished 2 very enjoyable books and I recommend both.

“West With Giraffes” was my book group selection because we wanted something light to read over the holidays and it fit the bill perfectly. We all enjoyed the story of 2 giraffes from Africa being transported across the country in 1938 from NYC to the San Diego Zoo – lots of adventure along the way, based on a true story. “Lessons in Chemistry” was fabulous and, though the issues it deals with are serious, much of it was laugh-out-loud funny. Don’t miss it!

Hope your 2023 is going well!

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