Some quilting, and a challenge

Published on Wednesday July 15th, 2009

An apology: the Comments have run aground. I don’t know what happened, but at some point in the last few days they all vanished like Kate Moss turning sideways. The Blog Mechanic is going to take a look at it as soon as he can. Meanwhile, I’m not sure whether you can leave a new comment or not, but I hope you’ll send me an email if you find you can’t communicate in the usual fashion!

The Sisters quiltapalooza was a heck of a good time. I enjoyed my two classes, I showed reasonable proficiency in learning new techniques and was satisfied with the results, I met lovely new people and relished the company of my mother-in-law and her sister, I sat in the presence of some of the quilting women of Gee’s Bend and found them as salt-of-the-earth powerful and full of spirit as their art would suggest, as well as overflowing with gratitude and love for the world that has embraced their quilts and the individuals who have advocated for them. (Also they sing spirituals while they work and are quick to praise God for their gifts and inspirations; they are deeply humble and wise about the primacy of human relations in times of difficulty; and they are fiercely proud of the beauty they have wrested from a hardscrabble life. I already counted them among my primary inspirations; hearing them speak and sing only increased my admiration and regard.)

Here’s what I made:

Thursday: Hand Quilting, taught by sisters Jan Bressler and Lou Shafer of Philomath, Oregon

Clicking for bigness will show you that the first picture is of the back of the work; the second shows the blue marking lines of the pattern I have yet to complete. Jan and Lou teach the use of a simple metal tool called Aunt Becky’s Finger Protector, which you use underneath the work to avoid stabbing your fingers and to help manipulate the needle tip for small, even stitches. Mine are still twice as long and twice as far apart as my teachers’, but they don’t look too bad for my first try. I learned the value of a good quilting hoop or frame right away. Jan and Lou had a number of different frames on hand for us to try, and I found that the models with little stands or legs to hold them above your work surface were far less cumbersome. Turns out I’m hopeless at balancing a traditional basic hoop. I need my work to hold still by itself in order to use both hands correctly.

Friday: “Sisters 4’s and 9’s,” again with Jan and Lou.

Jan and Lou adapted this quilt design from an antique quilt that came across the country on the Oregon Trail in the family of Margaret Peters. Pardon the lack of ironing; I was scrambling for the last of the light here. The quilt is assembled on the bias from these two large blocks of 4-patches and 9-patches. It’s obviously easy enough for a raw beginner, since I made a go of it. I loved seeing the color combinations my classmates chose; as we began to finish our first blocks Lou and Jan pinned them up at the side of the classroom (which was the high school library, an ideal setting—I parked myself next to the biographies of the Founding Fathers) so we could see the many permutations. See the block in the upper part of the picture? I opted to divide it visually as a 9-patch by making five light 4-patches and four medium 4-patches, but others divided it as a big 4-patch of two light and two medium 9-patches. Also, I realize now that I tipped the “fancy” A block a different way in that photo. I meant to do it like this:

… or like this, if I decide I prefer vertical green “stripes” in the B block:

So many possibilities! We’ll just have to see what I like when I’ve made enough blocks to assemble the whole top.

Now, that challenge I spoke of. Ye olde blog has been much neglected of late, and I don’t just mean the Comments problem. Between work and managing an international knit-along and cycling, I haven’t made much time for the creation and posting of content here. I’m not alone; I’ve seen a lot of bloggers abandoning the spaces they’ve inhabited for years in favor of shiny new Twitter feeds or what have you. Twitter holds no appeal for me (I don’t even have a cell phone, people), and I’ve never been a good Flickr user, so Blue Garter stays, even if it needs a good dusting. But my father recently told me he checks it almost every day for news of my life, and that was so touching I need to find a way to respond. More discipline in posting here is what’s needed.

So the challenge is this: Keep the camera with you, Sarah. Use it. You’re no photographer but you sure could get better with practice. Upload pictures and post them here, even if you don’t have a lot of words to go with them. Or post words without pictures—surely you had at least one interesting thought in the past day or two. Provide peepholes for the people who love you and care about the beauty and proportion of your daily life, and for unknown internet voyagers who might find a point of resonance here. Starting tomorrow. Over and out.

2 Comments to “Some quilting, and a challenge”

  1. jessa Comment Says:

    i am loving your quilt in progress. it reminds me of my (sadly neglected) quilt that sits half done in my closet and hasn’t been touched since last fall. i feel inspire to pull it out again. the problem with quilting as compared to knitting for a crafty hobby is that it takes up a lot of space (cutting board, ironing board, sewing machine) and a big block of time to get things done.

  2. theLady Comment Says:

    Good LORD – you don’t have a cell phone?!?! What do you do when you’re out in the middle of nowhere and your car breaks down? Neat quilty things.