A Beautiful Faraway Place I'll Never Go

in progress

in progress

When I made this quilt it didn’t have any special meaning. I was having fun playing with colors, remembering the color theory and technique I had learned in a workshop with Tara Faughnan. I crowd sourced for title ideas because nothing immediately came to mind. A friend said it reminded her of photos she had seen of Cinque Terra Italy at sunset. After looking at the images myself, I had to agree.

The idea of the world’s most beautiful places is tinged with sadness for me at the moment. I used to think I’d reach the age of retirement and then happily go traveling the globe with Nate. Now that we know more about how severely climate change will affect our lives in the next decades, I’m realizing that will probably always remain a dream. Not only will flying become an extravagance beyond the reach (and outside the moral code) of most people, but many beautiful coasts and places around the world will simply be gone. I think it’s important to put people first and I am hoping (and voting) that our leaders will make choices that minimize the damage already done and prioritize human survival. I know it’s a selfish impulse to grieve my lost leisure travel, but I’m taking a minute to be sad about all the places I’ll never get to see with my own eyes.

in progress

in progress

completed top

completed top

A Beautiful Faraway Place I’ll Never Go

A Beautiful Faraway Place I’ll Never Go

A Beautiful Faraway Place I’ll Never Go, back

A Beautiful Faraway Place I’ll Never Go, back

label detail

label detail

quilting detail

quilting detail

This quilt is good for a twin size bed, measuring 65” x 80”. I quilted it on my domestic Juki. Mitch Hopper took final pictures for me.

Two Mini Quilts

This quilt was made for a swap between my guild and the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild. My partner didn’t give me any requests, just told me to make whatever my heart desired. So I used scraps from a previous project (my Good Bones mini quilts from my drawing final) and the design was loosely inspired by the Arne Quilt by Rossie Crafts. I did my own quilting on this one and was pretty happy with the outcome.

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And another mini for a swap. This time it was a swap within my own guild. Again, my partner left it pretty wide open in terms of what she likes, so I tried to make something that reflects what I see in her: bright, vibrant, energetic. I had fun improving my way through this mini. My partner liked it and it turned out to be a parting gift, as she soon after moved from Chicago to Milwaukee.

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Naive

Naive Melody by the Talking Heads has been a favorite song for years. I wanted to make another quilt using the Drunkard's Path alphabet I designed, and this lyric, "Never for money / always for love,"  emerged as a phrase I love enough to put on a quilt. I think of it as an unofficial, cheeky motto for my quilt-making. When you're a quilter, people are constantly asking you if you sell your quilts. And, well, here is my answer. 

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pieces cut

pieces cut

sketchbook and palette, inspired by a notebook cover

sketchbook and palette, inspired by a notebook cover

binding, pieced with leftover squares

binding, pieced with leftover squares

drunkard's path progress

drunkard's path progress

pieced top in progress

pieced top in progress

pieced top in progress

pieced top in progress

I decided to attempt matchstick quilting for the first time on this quilt. I had.... issues. In an attempt to hide, yes, I'll admit it, the puckers created by botched matchstick quilting, I decided to add lots of big stitch hand-quilting. That was two years ago. I'm still working on this quilt, slowly adding hand stitches in beautiful variagated embroidery floss. I love the look and the texture, but it's taking stinking forever. I've probably logged over 60 hours in hand stitching on this, and no end in sight. I don't know if I'll ever be officially *done* with this quilt. If I do ever finish it, I'll post updated final photos. 

matchstick quilting detail

matchstick quilting detail

After investing many hours and much thread into the matchstick quilting on this piece, I decided to add some hand stitching. This added about three more years onto the completion date… once I started adding hand stitching, I just wanted to add more and more, and, well, it took a very long time. I think the texture is so unique and lovely but I will never do this finish on a quilt again. Somebody please slap me if I ever consider it.

This piece measures about 57”x72”. Mitch Hopper took the following 4 photos of the completed work.

Naive, measures 57”x72”

Naive, measures 57”x72”

Here is the quilt’s back.

Here is the quilt’s back.

Naive, detail

Naive, detail

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The Cat Quilts

I never expected to turn into a cat lady. Growing up my family had cats but they lived harsh, short lives in the out-of-doors. I learned not to get too attached. 

When my kids got bigger one of them wanted a snake. I wasn't into it. My husband convinced me we should talk the kid into a cat instead. And so we did. And then I fell in love. Hard.`I was so charmed by the way our cats (yes, plural, as we soon got a second) moved and played, so delighted by the way my kids connected with them. I posted cute cat videos on my social media. I started noticing all the very cute cat-themed items available for purchase in this world. I bought a cat shirt and cat pins. Probably some other stuff I can't remember. People started giving me gifts with a cat motif which was rough because I'm extremely picky about my cat motifs. I felt like this was all becoming too much. I felt like a too much of a nerdy cat lady, basically. So I came up with the perfect way to cool it with the random cat purchases but still fully indulge my cat obsession. FABRIC DUH. I started buying up all the cute cat-themed novelty fabric I could find. I wondered if I could possibly make an all cat fabric quilt that didn't look completely tacky and garish. The most modern-aesthetic cat-quilt ever made. That was my goal. 

Kitty Color Wheel Quilt

Kitty Color Wheel Quilt

I had long admired the Color Wheel quilt in  Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts. I decided this would be my first all-cat-fabric endeavor. I cut wedges out of all my cat fabrics, and ended up with enough for two and a half color wheels. 

The first full color wheel I made used all of my favorite prints, all of the best colors. I had trouble finding orange cat-fabrics that weren't Halloween themed. I ended up dyeing a couple fabrics with white backgrounds in order to fill out the orange quadrant. I used my absolute favorite neutral kitty print as a background. I had to search and scrounge for it, since it was an older and popular Lizzy House print. I had *just* enough of it to finish the top. This quilt was given to my daughter and hangs above her bed. She loves it and it totally makes the room. 

The back of this quilt has all the wedges I cut from the neutral prints. They didn't fit into the rainbow color wheel but made their own striking version against the blue background prints I chose.

Kitty Color Wheel

Kitty Color Wheel

Kitty Color Wheel hanging on slanted wall

Kitty Color Wheel hanging on slanted wall

Back of Kitty Color Wheel Quilt

Back of Kitty Color Wheel Quilt

 

 

I made a second kitty color wheel, a more scrappy version, with a varying background and second-tier colors and prints. This was a gift for kids I babysat for three years, a parting gift as our time together came to an end. Their color wheel wasn't as strong as the first version I made, but it still made for a cute gift. I used more cat prints to piece the back of their quilt too.

Kitty Color Wheel #2

Kitty Color Wheel #2

Back of Kitty Color Wheel #2

Back of Kitty Color Wheel #2

Label for Kitty Color Wheel #2, a gift for some special kids in my life

Label for Kitty Color Wheel #2, a gift for some special kids in my life

 

Around the same time as my kitty color wheels were taking shape, my guild embarked on a medallion-a-long. I had never made a medallion quilt before (a quilt that grows by adding borders around a central block, rather than by adding rows to each other), so I was eager to give it a go. The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild kindly agreed to let us use their 2015 pattern. I started off with this pattern but didn't stick to it strictly. I worked out my own designs for several of the borders. The challenge with this quilt was to stick to 100% cat novelty prints, but keep an eye on the overall composition of the quilt, especially in regards to color and contrast. In the end I was very happy with how it turned out. Nikki Maroon did the gorgeous quilting for me, and Mitch Hopper took the final photos. It measures 83" square. Big beautiful girl. I put 12" square cat fabrics on the back to use up my stash. I really think I've scratched that cat-fabric itch and won't need to make any more quilts with this theme. Like, ever again. 

All Cat Everything medallion quilt

All Cat Everything medallion quilt

center block of medallion quilt

center block of medallion quilt

corner detail

corner detail

back of quilt

back of quilt

And here are the two knuckleheads who started the whole thing... Lupin and Sirius. 

And here are the two knuckleheads who started the whole thing... Lupin and Sirius. 

2014 Goal Visualization Quilt

This quilt is a document of my list of measureable goals for 2014.

 

The wheels started turning for this quilt when my husband Nate asked me one day, "Has anyone ever used quilts as data visualization tools? Like infographic quilts?" I said I didn't know, but it sounded like an interesting idea. I thought about what data I'd like to document in a quilt, and settled on something very personal, my New Year's goals. I have always been a person who makes New Year's Resolutions, despite repeatedly reading that they don't work, no one every keeps them, etc. I didn't care, I made them anyway, always hopeful for the self improvement they might bring.

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A few years ago I noticed an Instagram friend talking about her measurable goals for the year. More specific than the hazy concept of New Year's Resolutions, measurable goals have a number attached to them. I decided to adapt her approach. For 2014, I had 14 measurable goals. I assigned a traditional quilt block to each goal. (I picked 14 different blocks that were made from half-square triangles, just blocks that I visually liked). The idea was to make a block for each of the times I was supposed to do each task. So if my goal was to host friends for dinner 4 times in the course of the year, I'd make 4 blocks. If I met my goal, those 4 blocks would go on the front of the quilt. For goals that I didn't meet, I'd break it down into a ratio. For instance, I only listened to 6 audiobooks, when my goal was 20 (too much tv). So 6 of those blocks went on the front of the quilt. The remaining 14 blocks were pieced into the back of the quilt. And if I exceeded my goal, I made the extra blocks in a different colorway (red/orange/yellow). There is a key on the label of the quilt, so viewers can understand it, and also so I can remember everything. 

 

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This quilt has a lot of tiny piecing and a lot of piecing in general. While I started it in 2014 when I was actively trying to accomplish all these measurable goals, it took until 2017 to finally finish it. Nikki Maroon quilted it for me, and Mitch Hopper helped me design the label, which I then printed on Spoonflower. Mitch Hopper also helped me take pictures of the final product. This quilt measures 53"x78". I was happy to have it accepted into the juried show at QuiltCon 2018.

The finished top

The finished top

Completed quilt

Completed quilt

Quilt label and key

Quilt label and key

Quilting detail

Quilting detail

Complete back

Complete back