Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Life Lived Artfully: Marilyn Wall

Marilyn Wall draws on her life's work and her favorite things to create art that makes us all breathe a sigh. The flowers from her garden never die once she has captured their beauty, as in this first photo:  Luminescent is fused applique, hand-dyed fabric, paint, thread painting and hand quilting.And her joyous Blue Atlas makes me want to try my own wings. The butterfly is actually a moth and is machine appliqued of hand-dyed fabric. The markings on the moth were fussy cut to achieve the desired effect. Marilyn used hand-dyed thread to quilt the moths in the background and used a big stitch.(See the second photo).

As you will see by the samples of her body of work, Marilyn is versatile as well as talented and most of all sees with her heart as well as her eyes. She also has a fun sense of humor! -- Dawn

I am a retired writer/photographer whose passion is fiber art. We moved to Lake Keowee, SC in 2004 and I would live nowhere else.

Most of my life, I have made art. Often the tools were different. I have created ever since I can remember.

First it was with a needle and thread. My first memory of sewing was as a young child. I had a chenille doll bedspread that I cut up and made into a bathrobe for my doll. During my school years I sewed most of my clothing and actually made clothing for other people as well.

After I became a mother I sewed for my four children, my husband and myself. My children love to look at photographs of that era and laugh at my poor son, Gary who had to wear striped bell-bottom pants. Hey! They were the style then.

While the children were young, I worked on many crafts, I knitted, cross-stitched, did needle point, and made a rug or two. However, I longed to be an artist. Mind you I didn’t know how to draw or paint, I had never shown any talent in this direction but the desire was there.

We lived in Meadville, PA at the time and someone told me about a teacher named, Marie Firster who could teach anyone how to paint, and she did.

Later my husband went to work for Michelin Tire Company and this job took us to France to live for about two years. I will forever be grateful to Michelin for the experience our family was able to share by living in a foreign country. Never would we have been able to fly a family of six to Europe and visit all the wonderful places we visited.

Later I took art classes in Greenville, SC and became enchanted with the camera. This led me to a job with a major construction/engineering company as a writer/photographer for their company newspaper. I traveled all over the US documenting construction projects and the people who built them.

(Photo: Flowerfly features cone flower and butterfly. Flowerfly: The technique for the flower was the same as Luminescent. I used a black on black printed fabric for the butterfly. This fabric proved beneficial, because the back was just as usable as the front, when I decided to make part of the butterflies wings 3-D. I painted the markings on the wings with pastels and used acrylic paint on the flower. This piece was machine quilted.)

After a move to Alabama, the first without children to get settled into a new school and no job I became quite bored. One day, while feeling very sorry for myself, a light bulb seemed to go off. I had wanted to learn to quilt for years and never had the time. Well, I had the time now. I found a lady who was willing to teach me the basics and once I put my first quilt together I was HOOKED. This was in July and by Christmas I had made three small bed quilts, two crib size quilts and several wall hangings. These were all hand quilted and two were hand pieced Tumbling Block quilts.

The following April I went to my first AQS show in Paducah, KY and saw my first art quilts. Never knew such art existed. I was smitten.

I tackled my first art quilt with no knowledge of technique, and just blundered my way through. When I show this quilt it is always a favorite with my audience. “Geraniums” is my interpretation of a photograph I took during our stay in France. (See photo) Geranium is hand appliqued on a background of half-square log cabin blocks. The sidewalk was made from the pointillist fabric from years ago. It was cut and pieced back together. Flowers were made in the technique of Fabric Origami and the leaves were sewn together and turned for a three-D effect

I continued on my journey, had a class here, a class there and have honed my technique. I started painting on my quilts many years a go to develop depth within the design. I teach my technique now in a class titled “Fabricating Nature”. One of my favorite places to teach is J.C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, NC.

As a Master Gardner my preferred subject over the years has been flowers and the landscape. I have become very interested in portraiture and am presently working on a series of people I find interesting.

Frequently, I combine the tools I have used in the past in conjunction with my quilting. Often I go to my photographs for inspiration and ideas. Sometimes the images from my photographs find their way onto the fabric and become part of my quilt. Just as often, I may need to embellish my quilts with paints, dye or inks. (See photo of Oriental Lilies for different treatments of the same design)

My journey is far from being complete. I have much to learn and many more quilts to make. My desire is to make an impact on people when they view my work. That impact can be good or bad but I hope it is not indifference. My latest piece is a tribute to a friend who died  in July after a year of fighting esophageal cancer. I wanted to make something for his wife to console her in her loss: Jana's Guardian Angels. 

After establishing my design on paper I traced the pattern onto PDF fabric with an Ultra find Sharpie. I had to be very mindful while doing this to keep the ink from puddling. I had researched the word love and dog on the Internet for all the sayings. After filling in the sky background I started writing in the words. I then finished painting Bob and Skeeter. I choose a small 1/4" loose boarder to act as a matting to the outer boarder. It was hand quilted, using hand-dyed thread and silver thread..

Marilyn tells more about Bob's quilt in her Fabricating Nature blog.

She also steps away from nature now and then to capture faces and people in her Mother and Daughter quilt as pictured here.

Mother and Daughter was done in a class by Marilyn Belford at QBL (Quilting By the Lake) in July. It is basically the same technique I use for my flowers, fused applique. This photo is not of the finished piece. It is now attached to a landscape that can be seen on my blog.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We Have a Winner!

Ms. Robin Walston of Indiana was picked as the winner of the Sarah Ann Smith giveaway that ended Dec. 21. Robin's name was picked in a random drawing. She will receive one of Sarah Ann Smith's patterns that are displayed on Sarah's website. Robin gets to visit Sarah's site and choose a pattern. Thanks Sarah for your generosity in providing the gift for this giveaway.

Congratulations Robin! And thank you everyone who left a comment and contributed to the fun! And don't forget to check out Sarah's patterns and her new book.  -- Dawn

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Looking Forward with a Glance Back

What's your resolution, goal, wish for the New Year? 2010. Doesn't that sound like a promising number?

For me I have this plan of revisiting my too long abandoned sewing skills. It is hard to believe that there was a time when I won awards for my sewing. That seems like a lifetime ago. Now, I just want to get up to speed and while I'm at it have some fun!

One book that will help me toward this goal is The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff. If you don't have this in your reference library, think about getting it. It may just be the most difinitive work on fabric manipulation. It goes way beyond tucks and smocking to mixed manipulations and incorporating all of the different techniques into an art form. Pictured here is Plumage, by Colette Wolff.

I wanna do that!

Also in the year 2010, I want to focus more on Crazy Quilts. I like the form. I like the freedom of that form. And I like the embellishments. It seems like it would be a perfect way to increase my ability to make choices as to fabric, color, shape, balance, and also work on embellishments and embroidery and again, fabric manipulation. Anything goes in crazy quilting which is probably why it is referred to as 'crazy.' But also, it is therapy. So soothing not to meet anyone's expectations of what the finished product should look like -- except my own!

And I must add that Pamela Allen, one of my new dear friends (whether she knows it or not) has set my life on its ear with her way of looking at the world. The way she thinks, they way she embraces everything with such joy and abandon. Her crazy quilt always makes me smile. Crazy About Quilts -- is that a self portrait? It could be my own image she's captured because I am crazy about quilts!

I also like the idea of a crazy quilt as a timeline of a life well lived. My great grandmother made such a quilt and it is exciting to see dates embroidered on the blocks of a time long before my own. She lived through the American Civil War. Maybe I'll do a timeline of my mother's life -- born the year the Titanic sank, lived through the Great Depression, saw the first automobiles, World War I, World War 2, Man Walking on the Moon. Well, I can just see so many possibilities for a crazy quilt.

Susan Lenz has so inspired me with her quilts. If there is anyone who puts her whole heart and soul into her quilts -- it is Susan. Her Grave Rubbings series is just one of the directions she has taken her art! Everytime I see what she's working on, I just gaze speechless and inspired. The reverence with which she approaches the graves and the care she takes to preserve artifacts and not endanger any historic site. Susan taught me more than stitching. See a detail photo of her Mother and Father quilt.

In my own efforts, I hope to use the techniques of Celtic Quilts. The bias tape work maybe even incorporate that into a stained glass piece. Lots to do in 2010.

Note the photo of Philomena Durcan's quilt The Children of Lir. Hopefully she will visit us in 2010. Her work as Scarlett Ross attested has inspired a whirlwind of creativity and a legacy of beautiful quilts from the hands of her students.

And I hope you will all join me on the journey. I hope we can have a show and tell page next year with Subversive Stitchers. A time when anyone can offer up a photo and an explanation of what they're working on. I'd be glad to post your 2010 fabric resolutions here. What are you working toward? Maybe post some photos of your first steps?

Several guest bloggers are also waiting in the wings -- Kathy York, Sharon Pederson, Gloria Hansen, Martha Sielman.... I won't give away the whole list, but there are lots of exciting things ahead.

I have so enjoyed sharing this year with all of you. Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles began as my little way to say, "Even when denied words, we speak with what is at hand." Needles, through the ages have given voice to the oppressed, the needy, the powerless, the female.

At the same time, I was finding so much creative inspiration online that I just wanted to share it with others who understand that fabric is so much more than woven threads. Well, you know what I mean. And it is so much more to share my discoveries than to just admire them alone.

I think of names and a cascade of beauty instantly flashes before my eyes. Guest bloggers through this year have expanded our horizons -- Karen McTavish and her machine quilting -- but also her tattoos. How many more quilters sport feather tattoos now that they've seen Karen's? Leslie Riley has me so excited about photo transfers and her wonderful TAP product. Virginia Spiegel's Boundary Waters quilts and amazing fundraising efforts; Linda Cooper's unique kinetic quilts and Eileen Doughty and her thread sculptures and landscape and activist quilts? And then traveling with Vikki Pignateli and seeing her classes and fabrics of other lands. Diane Gaudynski's machine quilting that makes me cry when I see how beautiful it is. And her love of fabrics so perfectly described. Lyric Kinard's inspiration about playing and experimenting. The class I took with her at Quilt University this past year was a turning point in more ways than one! And I hope to do more with paints and the various techniques I learned. Sarah Ann Smith certainly untangled threads for me!

Ami Simms and her inspiring mother! Maybe this is the year a cure is found for Alzheimer's Disease and maybe that will translate into a cure for ALS. Thanks to all of you who supported Derrol and me throughout this year. For buying raffle tickets and for encouraging me in that endeavor. Fundraising is not for the faint of heart! My hat is off to everyone who takes on that battle!

I'm so humbled that people say they like this blog. Humbled and so pleased. Every guest blogger is so special to me. Please revisit their guest blogs -- the line up is listed on the right column.

On the days when I can't think how to cope -- you all get me through. Each blog follower touches me whether you know it or not. If this little blog helps you through your day -- well, I can't ask for anything better than that! If it inspires you to do greater things, push further with your fabric art -- AMEN!

So, here's to 2010 -- I hope we can all enjoy it together! Let me know if there's someone or something you'd like to see displayed or featured here. If you'd like to guest blog, please let me know. It's been a fabulous year (despite the world problems)  -- I hope you feel the same.

Happy Holidays and a Happy Prosperous, Soul Satisfying New Year to Everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Scarlett Rose Mixes Celtic and Familiar Designs to Form Fantastic!

Scarlett Rose, like skilled quilt makers through the centuries, looks at a pattern and says 'what if....' Out of that curiosity has sprung some luscious and imaginative quilts. Her 'what if' creations will jump start your own imagination of what can be achieved by a combination of traditional designs to create the unique and the utterly fantastic! Scarlett has a touch of the subversive in every stitch! -- Dawn

With my thanks to Dawn for her kind invitation, I'd like to tell everyone a little about myself and my interest in Celtic applique.

Celtic style applique has been an integral part of my quilting life for many years, ever since I bought Philomena Durcan's first book on Celtic quilts back in 1980.

Having started out as a traditional patchwork quilter, I had been looking for an applique style that I would enjoy working on and exploring. Since I discovered that the possibilities with designing Celtic interlace were endless, I was hooked!

I happen to have some genealogical connections to the British Isles, which made my interest in Celtic art a way to explore some of my own background as well. I'm also half Japanese, an influence that apparently affected my own designs from the start. My early designs combined Celtic knotwork with floral elements, blending the East with the West. My first Celtic quilt, Celtic Orchids, led to my first book, Celtic Style Floral Applique, which was published by the American Quilter's Society of Paducah, Kentucky in 1992. Although it's now out of print, my first designs are still popular and I'm thrilled to still see quilts made with those designs appearing in shows worldwide.

Celtic Orchids, 1991, (First Quilt Photograph). This quilt was my first big Celtic project. Back in 1990, I started making these blocks without any idea of how I would put them together. I was busy playing with designing the blocks themselves, enjoying the process, and only when I had the nine blocks finished, did I realize that I needed to design something for a lattice and border. The appliqued lattice is my Celtic version of the traditional pieced Garden Maze lattice.

The Celtic border came from the block designs themselves, from which I picked out elements that I liked and linked them together. This 78" square quilt is entirely hand appliqued and hand quilted. After sending it around to numerous quilt shows and entering it in competitions, I received a number of requests for the pattern. Since I'd already sold some quilt patterns to magazines, I knew I wouldn't make much from selling this design that way.

I didn't do anything about getting the quilt design published until I attended the Paducah quilt show a couple years later and took their lecture on becoming a quilt book author. I talked to their book editor after the lecture, sent in my proposal as soon as I got home and six weeks later, had a contract in hand. Besides Celtic Orchids, I designed and made a series of four wallhangings, the Celtic Medallions, for my first book.

After finishing all the work on my first book, I wanted to continue designing Celtic applique, so I ran with an idea that a quilting friend suggested and drew up some knotwork block patterns that I called Celtic Baskets. This was my way of making sort of a Baltimore style design, since that's what my friend was really into at that time. The woven basket applique block that appears as the center of many medallion style Baltimore Album quilts had interested me, but I resisted the temptation to make a traditional one, going instead for my own version.

Indian Summer, 1995, (Second Quilt Photograph). This quilt was originally meant to be the center of a larger medallion quilt, but I wasn't happy with how the center, and the border I'd partially finished, looked together. I decided to split them into two quilts. I added a simple border to Indian Summer and made a new center panel for the Celtic applique border, which became the quilt, Out of Darkness: Hope. When I wrote my second book, I included the layout for the original quilt, which I named the Nightmare Medallion, that I had intended to make instead of two quilts.

Due to the suggestions of these quilting friends who were into Baltimore Album quilts, I did my own Celtic version of that style and wrote a second book, Baskets: Celtic Style in 1995. I'd found that I liked blending Celtic with many quilting styles, as well as doing more intricate Celtic knotwork.

As I travel and teach, I enjoy seeing what quilters make from my patterns. I hadn't planned on quilting becoming my career, but it did and it has given me the opportunity to teach throughout the USA and in Japan. My website promotes my teaching and quilting, shows pictures of Celtic quilts I've come across and provides me with a homebased business that I've operated since 1998. As the Internet has grown, I've branched out into e-patterns, teaching online classes through QuiltCampus and posting on Facebook. Learning how to weave the strips over and under is the most common problem that students have. It sometimes takes a block or two to get into the rhythm of over and under, but it's definitely worth the effort.

Some of my latest Celtic patterns combine patchwork and applique, adding a Celtic touch to what would otherwise be a traditional patchwork pattern.

Knotwork Nine Patch, 2008 (Quilt Photograph 3) - This 50" square quilt was inspired by a classic patchwork design, the improved nine patch. This innovative quilt design uses simple pieced blocks combined with bias applique, instead of being pieced with difficult seams as the traditional version requires. The bias strips add the Celtic touch and allow for a contrasting color to accent the pieced blocks. My sample quilt was made from an assortment of blacks and whites which I pulled from my stash. The bias is made from an assortment of blues. There are some very pretty color combinations shown in the Gallery for this quilt, showing what students have chosen for their own quilts.

Knotwork Nine Patch and San Kamon are available as printed patterns and e-patterns.

Other new designs are more Asian, based on traditional Japanese designs that are interlaced.  San Kamon, 2009 (Fourth Quilt Photograph) This wallhanging/table runner design came from my research into Japanese family crests.

I'd found out years ago that many cultures have some kind of interlace that they use as an art form or put in some way into their art. I've collected a worldwide range of traditional designs which I could see being done with Celtic applique, using bias strips or a variation of that technique.

The three blocks in this pattern are crest designs that I thought looked good together. I asked a friend to do a hand embroidered version since embroidery has become so popular again. She backstitched the same block designs and set them together with a border fabric. I did the quilting on her top and also completed my own sample quilt. I've since added lots of hand quilting on my sample, so I'll be updating the pattern photo soon.

I have so many designs drawn up that I can't wait to see made in fabric, it makes me wish that I had unlimited time to sew! I applique by hand and machine, using different techniques depending on how I've chosen to applique. I don't baste or fuse my strips if I'm hand appliquing, but I do make the fusible bias if I'm machine stitching the strips. I usually want my machine applique to be invisible, so it looks like the block is hand appliqued. I've done some machine blanket stitching, so I like the look of a contrasting color thread stitched on the edges of bias, too. The most common problem I see with fused bias is that quilters have to realize that the strips aren't permanently attached to the background until they're stitched.

The fusible webs aren't meant to keep the bias glued down through much handling or especially washing. If you use a heavy fusible to try and make the bias stay, then you get a hard appliqued look and I personally don't like that style. The same applies to the fabric glues. Unless you wash them out after stitching, the applique will be stiff and hard looking.

At one time I hand quilted entire quilts, but I just don't have the time anymore for it. I enjoy hand quilting, so I normally do the quilting designs by hand with metallic threads, then do the background and in the ditch by machine.

I'm always willing to learn new techniques and I can't wait to see if they could be useful in making one of my own designs. You never know when something can be adapted or applied in a new way unless you try! That's how I got into researching Celtic and Celtic style knotwork, once I started seeing interlace in all kinds of unusual places.

I'm also one of those quilters, who takes the words: "you can't do that!" -- as a challenge.  This stubbornness has served me well with my quilts. For example, after making Celtic Orchids, which is done in all solid color cotton fabrics, I decided I wanted to add some sparkle to the Celtic Medallion series. I mentioned at a meeting that I was going to try putting some tricot lame in the first design and many quilters from my local guild were aghast. They were sure I would ruin my design! After they saw the finished quilt, though, no one had any objections, so I knew I was right in going my own way. I've used lame in most of my Celtic quilts, either as bias strips or insets, ever since. Now I'm quilting with metallic thread, by hand for the quilting designs in the open areas, or by machine for the decorative blanket stitching on the bias.

I've used fabrics and prints that aren't what many would think appropriate for Celtic designs, and chosen all kinds of non-cotton fabrics for my art quilts. Besides the Celtic applique that I'm best known for, I also design my own versions of traditional quilt patterns, sew up some wearable art from time to time, and make some contemporary art quilts.

I hope to do more books in the future and I will continue to explore and teach Celtic applique.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coloring Book Inspired Christmas Cards by Sherry Lidgard

By Dawn Goldsmith

I love coloring books, coloring with crayons, pencils even markers -- you know like we did as kids. It's good therapy and fun -- staying inside the lines is a nice change for fabric artists!

I'm not alone in that fascination. Recently Sherry Lidgard wrote a blog at The Quilt Show website declaring her love of coloring.

Over the years I've tried to incorporate crayons into my quilting and sewing projects. I tried using crayons on fabric, even textile crayons and wasn't thrilled with the results. Too fragile, even after heat setting them. And the colors weren't as strong as I would have liked.

Sherry, feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, searched for Christmas gifts that wouldn't break her budget and yet be a welcome present. Postage was a factor with gifts to be sent from California to Florida. So she turned to coloring books and found a 'go-zillion' online.

She explains her process: I found a bunch that I liked and printed them out. I went over the lines with a sharpie and used colored pencils to color them. Then I scanned them into my computer and ran them through Photoshop.

I prepared fabric sheets for my printer using freezer paper and muslin and printed out the pages. I added batting and backing to the images and quilted them, focusing on the outlines and doing some background quilting on some of them. I used black thread and free-motion to go over the outlines (more than once) of the pictures when I quilted them. Gives them better difinition.

Then I bound them with holiday fabric and they're ready to go! The only thing I had to actually spend money on was printer ink-everything else came from my itty stash. I made about 25 different pieces.

She added: They can be hung on the wall but I think propping them on a shelf or on some kind of small display stand would be better because of their size.

The only downside to her project was the envelope. Because of the odd size of the finished quilt she had to make the envelopes. "I bought poster board and made very simple envelopes to fit each little quilt. Next time I'll make a more standard size so I can buy envelopes and save some time!"

I'm thinking how well this project would work if you have children and want to make a memory quilt of their artwork! Or a grandma gift complete with artwork! Or or or.... next year's Christmas cards featuring your own or your child's coloring pages.

Oh, Sherry added a note with her gifts -- just in case they might not quite know what to do with it. A little disclaimer -- "It's not a potholder...."

Monday, December 14, 2009

My View: Jackie Robinson's Weaver Fever DVD with pattern pdf

Sharon Pederson's company Nine Patch Media produces a Quilters' Schoolhouse DVD Series featuring some of the leading quilt designers, artists and artisans in the quilt art community.

Nine Patch Media also offer high quality video, audio and presentation. No distractions, no faltering, no stammering, no camera shyness. The presentation is professional and proceeds in easy to digest segments allowing a watcher to pause whenever necessary. In fact in Jackie Robinson's presentation, she encourages you to pause, do what she's taught, and then proceed to the next step.

The DVDs they have produced, at least those I've viewed, have been outstanding and covered all of my questions and then some.

Weaver Fever by Jackie Robinson is a DVD that really delivers. I can remember way back in 1991 when Jackie Robinson introduced her innovative bargello inspired Weaver Fever with her threefers and four-fers and five-fers. Well, the pattern, published by Animus Quilts Publishing (Jackie's company) has never gotten old and the pattern continues to sell. Now she has taken the time to show the process complete with tips for assured success with this beautiful interlaced pattern. And she includes a downloadable pdf file of a booklet to lay on your work table and reference again and again and again while making your own Weaver Fever quilt.

Jackie has a delightful on-air personality and her presentation is delivered with a twinkle in her eye and an easy-to-follow pace. The process she advocates may not be the most exciting, but it is organized. She doesn't snip willy nilly. She doesn't throw tidbits of cloth over her shoulder. In truth, she's a bit anal about the whole process.

She emphasizes the pre-cutting preparation -- the choosing of fabrics, the way to determine what cuts must be made, and how to organize the fabrics -- which leads to a manageable, few surprises procedure when it comes to the actual cutting and piecing. In the design she presents, success depends heavily on the proper placement of each of seven fabrics, in a repeating pattern. The quilter needs a process that keeps the fabric separated and ready to grab. Jackie's brochure gives every bit of information required to know just how many strips of each fabric to cut and then how to lay the fabrics out so that piecing is easy. She also throws in handy tips and facts about sewing fabrics together.

For example, when sewing strips together, alternate which strip is on top directly beneath the presser foot and which is closest to the feed dogs. The feed dogs will not stretch fabrics, presser feet will. If you sew Strip A to B with B ontop, when you sew B to C, make sure C is ontop. It is a simple process that will prevent your strips from bowing into a half circle.

She also demonstrates the easy peasy way of making mitred corners. Even I could do this! Even I want to try this. And up until now, I avoided mitred corners like alligator meat or sneezing colleagues.

Since 1991 Jackie Robinson has taught the making of this quilt and has seen just about everything that could go wrong -- go wrong. In this DVD she addresses all of those possibilities and by the end of the DVD, you'll be googling Maywood Studios and ordering your fabric from Jackie's collection. (Although, I tried and they don't sell it at that site.)

Her border prints make the finish easy -- and she even demonstrates how to cut those! Jackie doesn't forget a thing.

As I said, she may seem a bit anal in the beginning about how she folds her fabrics, how she cuts from the back to the front, how she carefully stacks each cut piece of fabric in the order of how it will be sewed into the quilt. But she speaks from experience and gives great advice. All of that attention to detail pays off and eliminates headaches and ripping. And I can see how easily this quilt design could get messed up.

When it comes to price -- I'm not quite such a staunch advocate. At $29.95, I hesitate. It is a professional quality video that runs for 77 minutes and includes a trunk show, outtakes and complete pattern PDF.... The trunk show was a little disappointing in that it is simply the same design with different colors. Still, its good inspiration.

For the experienced quilter, the booklet alone may be enough. Also, the prices for fabric packages and the booklet quoted at Animus, seems like more for your dollar. For example Jackie offers the booklet separately for $8. For the fabric to make a 50x60-inch lap quilt: $67 (which, I understand includes the booklet), plus $30 for the backing.

Yet, for someone like me who is math challenged and easily confused, the video is essential. If planning to make several quilts using this technique, then definitely buy the video.

Friday, December 11, 2009

“The Magic of Fabric” by Diane Gaudynski

Diane Gaudynski transports anyone who views her work to another place. A land where feathers and swirls and circles and crosshatch and stipple and thread and needle come as near to perfection as any of us have ever witnessed. Seeing her work simply mesmerizes. Eyes search every inch, mouths form ohhs and aahhs escape like sighs and yes, some are moved to tears. In her S.O.S. inteview with The Alliance For American quilts is such a tribute to our ancestor quilters. And her retelling of what inspired the colors for the featured log cabin quilt made me laugh and feel such delight. I do hope you'll visit her interview and read about Fluffy, her feline muse. But first, get comfortable and enjoy Diane's romance with fabric that's so evident in the way she speaks of quilting, fabrics, color and this community of quilters. -- Dawn

(Photo: A selection of Cherrywood cottons for a possible class project.)

Fabric is “Magic” contained in cloth.

Quilters know this. It’s instinctive.

I recently thought my family room looked dull and lifeless in these grey cloudy autumn days, went shopping and indulged in a new silk throw pillow.

The color is bronze/umber and shines like an oak leaf in autumn, and has tiny pleats through the center part that catch the light even more, giving texture and more angles for the light to bounce from. It lights up the room.

One new piece of fabric turned a graying dull old lady of a room into a warm and inviting place. I am going to get another silk pillow today to finish the job. And do some dusting too, always helps. And then look for some silk fabric in this shade to add to my mostly cotton quilts.

Earlier this year I was at a big quilting event where progressive sessions were held, one group would leave, and for a day or two the place would be empty of all but a few quilters who stayed on to attend or teach at the next class. When the quilters left, the atmosphere at this beautiful location suddenly seemed to me flattened, depressed, void of color and life.

I sat with non-quilters for meals and discussed mundane things. When the quilters started flooding in to the registration building for the next session it was as if the sun came out. Smiles, color, laughter, joy, bags of fabric and supplies piled high made that place come to life once again. One could not help but feel better just seeing these people arrive, quilters who use fabric to express their take on life and their art. They had packed magic in their bags. I knew mealtime from then on would be exhilarating!

(Photo: Free motion machine quilting on hand dyed sateen by Wendy Richardson.)

It was difficult in that “off” time making conversation with people who did not have private hoards of fabric, rooms devoted to them in their homes, plans to add more finds at any opportunity. The quest for the perfect fabric for the next quilt is always there with us, and the excitement of the hunt or the find puts roses in cheeks, sparkle in eyes, and beauty in the finished quilts.

I have always loved fabric—the colors, textures, designs, the hand of it, the softness or crispness, the challenge of what you could do with a new and wonderful find. Before I could even read, I began my journey into fabric involvement by sewing doll clothes with scraps from our own clothes. I then progressed to sewing for my younger sister to learn all the basics (she was too young to be a critic) and then to my own clothes in high school and for twenty years after that….. until I discovered piecing and quilting.

(Photo: Free motion echo quilting on silk dupioni fabric with #100 silk threads)

During those years I learned and loved everything about the fabric: selvedges, the grainline, how it behaved in sewing it, washing and preparing it, pressing fabric, discerning the good from the not so good in quality. I shopped at manufacturers’ outlets and had access to the best wools, cottons, corduroys and hounds tooth, gabardines and batiste, silks, crepes and satins, all beautiful stuff, for great prices. I fearlessly cut into it and made clothes and decorator items, monster bed spreads that went to the floor with insets of stuffed cording. Making machine quilted bed quilts is nothing compared to the weight of that quilted corduroy bedspread I sewed on my original Singer Silver Touch ‘N Sew.

When I began piecing and making quilts, there was very little variety in quality 100% cotton available, and I made do with blends, and bright primary colored cottons, but I wasn’t happy. A trickle of quilt fabrics appeared in our new quilt shops back in the late 1970’s, and they were fabulous, like water in a parched desert. The colors, the lovely hand of them, the prints and designs, oh my. I still have remnants of the first Jinny Beyer collection, and always tell the story in my “Mud” lecture about searching everywhere for some mustard colored cotton for my quilt, made with all cool greens and purples available in the late 80’s. Mustards and khakis were not around. It was all dusty blues and old rose. I found that fabric, and it made the quilt work. It saved that quilt.

Being a quilt artist requires an extensive library of fabric. When you begin a project or find your work “needs” something, not sure what, you will always have that library and be able to rummage through it and find what the quilt needs. Maybe it’s my favorite mustard, maybe hot pink, or dusty teal or scarlet or aubergine. Maybe something not 100% cotton, as first we turned to nothing but cotton, learned our craft, and now have branched out into including any kind of fabric in the universe in our quilts. We indulge shamelessly in fabric.

(Photo: A block from my quilt “Shadows of Umbria” which featured large scale vintage type fabrics floating in a sea of heavily quilted Cherrywood cottons.)

I machine quilt my quilts on a home machine, and have to adapt what fabrics I choose so that they will work with a machine stitch, allow proper tension, not stretch and distort, etc. Fabrics are auditioned for color and scale of print, but also for how they will handle when machine quilted. Will the thread morph nicely with the fabric or will it sit on top and look stringy and pathetic? Will quilting show? Will the fabric sabotage my skills in quilting, or showcase them?

I use starch frequently to stabilize fabrics for cutting and piecing. It helps tame unruly fabrics and washes out of the finished quilt nicely.

And I make prototypes. My students get so tired of my telling them to audition the fabric, and the quilting that will be used on that fabric before piecing the quilt top. I have saved many a project from becoming a UFO because of pre-washing the fabric selection, layering it with the batt chosen for the quilt and the backing as well, and doing some quilting on it in the design planned for that fabric. How it handles in the machine, how the thread colors look on that choice, how it looks in then end all help me decide if I will use it or not.

(Photo: Here is a sample of a prototype: I quilted a small feather design on the fabric designated for my tote bag, tried out the thread colors, backgrounds, shading with pencils or ink, and then used this information on the real project.)

I have a stack of center squares from a log cabin quilt all with different quilting designs, including the one that was the final choice. It is obvious all the other designs were second best but I didn’t know that until I took the actual fabric and quilted it in the options.

As you gain experience the need for prototypes and extensive testing of your fabrics is decreased. Your knowledge base will fill that need.

Do I pre-wash fabrics? Yes, always. I like to know what could happen if and when the finished quilt is washed, and I like to control that outcome. So each fabric is hand washed separately in very hot water with a bit of quilt soap until no color runs, then washed in a load of fabrics in the washer, rinsed thoroughly, dried in the dryer on low, folded and used. They are washed right before cutting for the quilt so they are fresh and clean and don’t bother my allergies.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s more important to use a fabric that I can control, that showcases my quilting well, that behaves in the finished quilt, that doesn’t run or bleed, and that looks wonderful than to fall for the next best thing or the pretty face in the new assortments for sale.

I’ve also learned not to worry if a fabric will “go” with the others in a quilt. If “you” love it, it will work just fine.

Fabric is the bedrock of quilting and it pays to take time to find and use what works best plus gives you the payoff in fabulousness that you need.

Fabric softens the rough edges of our lives, gives visual warmth as well as actual warmth, is a comfort in times of joy and hard times as well.

Keep quilting; your work gets better every day, plus you’ll use up some of your fabric library!

Visit Diane Gaudynski's website and blog, too. Can anyone ever get enough of her work? Don't forget her several books and DVDs and classes.
Photo: My cat Arnie in his youth would always find  fabrics, cut or uncut. He seemed to find the right colors to set off his handsome good looks too.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Threading Your Way Through the Quiltscape Guided by Sarah Smith

A few blogs ago I reviewed a few books that I had found to be especially outstanding. Top of my list is Sarah Smith's Thread Work Unraveled. It is a reference book that I keep near my sewing machine and refer to whenever I need to shop for thread, needles or other sewing necessities. But her book does not do justice to this quilt artist's talent. She isn't 'just a teacher' or 'just an author.' Sarah Smith creates beauty and inserts meaning and emotion and then quietly stands out of the limelight so that the focus is on the art. Today, I hope we can focus a bit more on the artist as well as her art. -- Dawn

FREE GIVEAWAY: Sarah has generously offered to provide one of her original patterns to the lucky winner of a giveaway here at Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles. Please include contact email information or where I can locate said information. Those entering the giveaway need to leave a comment here on Sarah’s guest blog about your favorite thread, favorite needle or a problem you are having with needle or thread or both. Sarah’s available to answer questions and may give more extensive answers on her own blog at a later date. Your comments can be added up through Dec. 20th. The winner will be chosen on Dec. 21st.

When I teach, I always want to be able to do a brain-transplant from me to my students so they can know all the stuff it has taken me decades to learn so that their learning curve is shorter than mine. Since Vulcan-mind-melds don't yet exist (at least as far as I know), I'm hoping the book will be the next best thing.

Folks often ask what is the best thread, and how do I get results like yours. The answers are the dreaded "it depends on the look you want" and (twice as bad as a four-letter word, the 8-letter P-word) "practice."

The single best thing anyone can do is buy decent thread (not the cheap stuff in the 8 for a dollar bin). Follow that with: Just do it; just quilt!

You WILL get better, and other folks will think you're amazing long before you think you're even so-so! Just do it!

Photos 1 and 2: Earth and Turquoise inspired by a quotation by N. Scott Momaday. The piece features turquoise, beads, silk bombyx fibers, tulle, commercial cotton batiks, and extensive thread stitching, as well as leather lacing, sticks, rocks and wild turkey feathers. First photo a close up, second photo full size view. The quilted portion is approximately 28x28 inches. Overall including feathers length is 54 inches.

Let me add: It never hurts to start at the beginning. For me, the beginning is a good needle, followed by good tension. If you are using a dull needle or one that isn't suited to your thread and project, you simply won't get good results no matter how fine the thread or your quilting skills. Then, you need to understand your machine so that you are working in harmony and not fighting one another. There is a whole section and project in the book to help you with this.

The shoe analogy works: when you go hiking, you don't wear satin pumps. You need hiking boots-- the correct shoe for what you are going to do (have you seen how many of those TV female cops are wearing spike heels? sheesh! NOT in real life...they need to be able to run!). AND, you need the correct shoe size. If the shoe is too big, your foot flops around and gets rubbed and sore; if the shoe is too small, blisters! The same thing applies to needles and thread. This is how you can end up with wobbly stitches or frayed, breaking thread.

Photo 3: Tea. Size: 16" tall by 19" wide. Fusible applique, painting and intense machine quilting. (above) Tea is a morning still life, with my mug, teapot, creamer, cereal bowl and book. In 2006 I wanted a play day with a quilty friend, and I wanted to see my friend Teri Austin, so I signed up for a day-class with Teri at the 2006 Maine Quilts show. Instead of doing the teacher's pattern, as usual I wanted to do my own imagery, so I prepared this picture to work on in the class. At long last I have finished it, and I love it! I hope you do, too.

When starting a quilting project, the first thing I do is figure out how the quilt will be used. If it is a wall quilt, anything goes. But if it is something that will be washed, you want to select a thread that will stand up to washing (as in, metallic isn't the best choice for a baby's quilt!) and lots of use (think kid-forts and quilts used to carry cats and small dogs...ahem....).

Once you've picked your thread, select a needle that is suitable to the thread and the fabric, in both type (Denim, Topstitch, Embroidery, Quilting--which by the way is better for piecing than for actual machine quilting...it has a very small eye that tends to fray the threads!) and size.

There are many good resources out there. In addition to my book, which specializes on thread, you may want to find a good book on machine quilting (Harriet Hargrave's and Diane Gaudynski's books are my favorites). If you do lots of machine applique --Janet Pittman's and Harriet Hargrave's are on my shelf. The major thread companies sometimes have information on their websites. The education tab at Superior Threads has a wealth of information.

Thanks for inviting me to guest blog, Dawn! Here's to happy quilting and LOTS of thread!

You may have noticed that not only are Sarah's quilts gorgeous and exquisitely made, they come with good stories behind them. Her Bijagos Warrior (which won an Honorable this year at NQA-Ohio) is no exception.

Sarah writes: In the summer of 1982, I worked as a volunteer on the island of Bubaque, in the Bijagos Archipelago off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, under the auspices of Operation Crossroads Africa. Guinea-Bissau is a former Portuguese colony nestled just south of Senegal, on the westernmost part of the bulge of Africa.

One day, a boat was leaving to go to a neighboring island-not a common occurrence. This man was on the boat and immediately caught my eye. Even then, when Bubaque had only had electricity for two years, it was unusual to see men dressed in a traditional manner. To me, he represents a vanishing way of life, and I wanted to capture that as well as his physical beauty.

Bijagos Warrior was one of only three quilts in the 2005 statewide Maine Quilts show to receive an "Exceptional Merit" ribbon. Quilts are judged on a scale of 0-100; blue ribbon quilts are those earning 90-96 points (average of the 3 judges' scores). Exceptional Merit are those earning 97-100 points. This year's judges were Elly Sienkiewicz, Pepper Cory and Joyce Becker, so I'm especially thrilled to receive this recognition. Size: 40 x 60 inches; completed June 2004. You may have seen this quilt. It was juried into the Pacific International Quilt Festival, Santa Clara, California, 2004. Juried into the American Quilter's Society (AQS) 2005 show in Paducah, Kentucky. Maine Quilts 2005; Exceptional Merit award winner. Juried into The Best of New England Quilt Guilds, The New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, Massachusetts, January to April 2006. Published in the Janome International Digest, Fall/Winter 2004, and in various quilt show publications in a Janome advertisement, 2005. Also included in the on-line video promoting Janome's new 11000 sewing machine. Art Quilts Maine show, Saco Museum, Saco, Maine, April to July 2007. The National Quilt Association show, Columbus, OH, June 2009. This guy really gets around!

And there's more!

Ask anyone in the United States what is the first they think of when thinking of Maine, and they'll say lobsters. Lobster buoys are everywhere along the coast... bobbing in the water, tied to traps on the dock, piled in heaps in the yards of lobstermen. This piece is a riff on the buoys; the ones in the original photo were an easily-seen red and orange-y yellow... a bit bright for most homes! I wanted to do color studies using value -- light versus dark -- to render the close-up view of the buoys.

The center quilted panel is 10x10 inches, mounted on commercial batik over stretcher bars. The finished pieces are 16 x 16 inches, and one inch deep (fabric wraps cleanly to the back, which is clean finished and ready to hang).

With These Hands, inspired by Rodin's sculpture "The Cathedral," this portrait of my hands uses every thread I own that approximated my skin tone, even pool blue and gray for the veins. I free-motion embroidered the hands onto Thermogauze vanishing muslin and a layer of tulle in a hoop, trimmed and padded it with two layers of batting and appliqued. I quilted all the things I do with my hands.: "With these hands, I love, sew, design . . . ." I used a similar quilting technique to make the hands in "Earth and Turquoise," which is in the Orbs gallery. 14x14 inches; made in 2004. Created for and a finalist in the Quilting Arts Magazine Calendar Challenge for 2005. 
Fields of Gold, just won an award in Houston! The center portion of this piece was designed as a project for my book: Thread Work Unraveled. While it was hanging on the design wall, my friend Lisa Walton sent me a metre of her inspiring hand-dyed fabric--gorgeous green, gold and rust. I pinned it up on the wall, wondering how I could use it for a journal quilt. You can visit Lisa's website, Dyed and Gone to Heaven, and yes...she ships worldwide!

Then inspiration hit: the green and gold section meshed perfectly with my little "sunset trees." Then, my friend Deborah's quilt, Fields of Gold, worked its way into my subconscious. As I mulled over how I would quilt the hand-dyed portion, the lyrics to the Fields of Gold song by Sting popped into my head, and images of bowing grasses were replaced by wheat blowing in the wind.
Shown at Art Quilts XIII, the Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler, Arizona, October to December 2008. Juried into the Contemporary Colorations II exhibit at the National Quilt Association show, Columbus, Ohio, June 2009. Size: 18 1/4 by 20 3/4 inches.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Travels Down Under and Around the UK with Vikki Pignatelli

Vikki Pignatelli, founder of the Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibit, is also the Crazy about Curves lady who introduced her innovative easy, frustration-free way of sewing curves. Now she brings a delightful new element to quilting and teaching -- travel.

More and more fabric loving teachers are finding ways to visit  horizons on various continents, but in today's blog, Vikki lets us travel vicariously through her. She shares her experiences and provides inspirations from various cultures. Her enthusiasm and joy in her experience are contagious. Note the photo of Vikki posed in front of a Maori carving in New Zealand.

Please give a warm welcome to Vikki Pignatelli! -- Dawn

2009 has been such an exciting year for me as a teacher and a person.

My husband, Denny, and I traveled down under to New Zealand and Australia this spring. I taught a month in New Zealand and a month in Australia for a total of 22 classes. This autumn I taught for a month in glorious Ireland and a week in England and we also had the opportunity to explore Edinburgh, Scotland. On top of all these wonderful experiences, we are grandparents again for the first time in 16 years…a very long dry spell! Danny and Allison, our son and daughter-in-law, gave us a beautiful new grandson in August, Miles Parker.

During my international travels I’ve come to the conclusion that quilters in particular and people in general are the same everywhere. The workshop interests of the international quilters are identical as those who reside here. They are excited by new gadgets, thread and fabric. During my travels in NZ, Australia, Ireland and England they requested the same classes…my basic curves technique (using a pattern), improvisation, fabric manipulations and color/design. (Photo of Vikki's class in Pukekohe in NZ.)

It was a dream come true to visit New Zealand and Australia. I was initially invited to teach at the Symposium that was held in Wellington. The Symposium led to invitations from guilds, asking me  to teach in Pukekohe (close to Auckland), Hokitika (on the Tasman Sea), and Levin. We absolutely loved New Zealand and both agree it is at the top of our favorite places on earth! The quilters are awesome, the people are awesome, and the scenery is incredibly awesome. I know that “awesome” is an overused word these days, but there just simply is no other word to describe it. (Photo of Maori motifs on picket fence.)

We arrived there about 10 days early so we could tour some of this magnificent country. We went to Rotorua, which is a town full of thermal activity…geysers and steam vents abound. It’s not unusual to see steam coming from people’s yards. It is also a town with a concentrated population of Maori people. Originally coming from Polynesia, the Maori were the first inhabitants of New Zealand. We also attend a hangi…a Maori banquet. Originally a hangi was banquet cooked underground sealed and covered over with earth, but because of health laws it still a bountiful feast, but now cooked in conventional ovens and on stoves. We brought back a beautiful Maori carved wooden mask and a souvenir of our trip. (Photo of Vikki and Denny discovering Maori heritage.)

We also went to Queenstown…where, by the way, the next NZ Symposium will be held in 2011. The Queenstown area is mountainous and is where the scenery from the movie Lord of the Rings was filmed. From Queenstown we went to Te Anau, the start off point for the fjord tours. This area at the bottom of the sound island of NZ is pretty remote with few people and mostly sheep.

Many times we felt we were truly at the end of the earth! From Te Anau we boarded an overnight “cruise” of Doubtful Sound …but not before we had to cross a huge lake and then board a bus taking us over a steep mountain pass to take us to the boat on the sound. (Photo of moody Doubtful Sound, NZ.)

The engineers and builders used this old road during the time the power plant was in construction and it is the only road in the entire area. As there are no residents in this remote area, the only thing it’s used for is to transport tourists to/from the Doubtful Sound tour. Over the mountain pass you’ll see a forest made up of trees and fern trees…literally a tree with branches shaped like a palm tree, but with huge fern fronds instead.

Anyone who is familiar with my work knows I am enamored with trees and THIS tree was incredibly fascinating. The trees in this temperate rain forest are enshrouded with moss/lichens and other plants, giving the whole forest a “haunted by trolls and elves look”. I expected a little troll to pop out in front of the bus at any time! The sheer beauty and stillness of Doubtful Sound is a testament to the divinity that resides there. We experienced a sense of awe….in the fjords the people on the boat were silent because they were spellbound by the beauty. I must say that this tour of this wonderful place was one of the top joyful moments of my life.

In Australia I taught in Sydney, Eaton Hill near Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Doncaster near Melbourne. Wow!! We saw the Opera House and harbor bridge in Sydney. We explored Brisbane for 4 days, walking until our feet were stubs and taking their river taxis all over the place. We both agree Brisbane is one of our favorite cities we’ve ever been to! Melbourne has a terrific marketplace that goes on forever…many, many blocks and took all day to explore. Every imaginable fruit, vegetable or any other food is available…everything and anything you could want was there. I was amazed at the number of fruits and vegetables that I’ve never seen before! On the Gold Coast, we saw and explored sub-tropical rain forests and banana plantations.

While in the rainforest, imagine Denny’s horror when he looked down to find a large splotchy blood stain on his sock…seems that a leech had found his leg and had a feast at his expense….a scene reminiscent of the African Queen movie. The leech had dropped off and was inching away from him on the floor. Leeches are common in the rainforest, especially after the flooding that had happened just before our arrival.

While in Ireland I taught in Donegal, Belfast, Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan, Dublin and Galway…. In England I taught in Durham. Ireland was just as I imagined …green, lush countryside and friendly people who will go out of their way for you. Again the quilters were magnificent! (Photo: My class in Durham, England.)

Being in the classroom there is identical to being in class in the States....with ONE exception….come 10 AM and 3PM, no matter what, the students would break for tea. As an American and not knowing this custom, I would be talking, giving my demos and many just got up and left, leaving me talking to empty chairs and wondering what happened to my class It didn’t take me long to get into their groove and look forward to teatime. Teatime happened in all FOUR countries….probably a good idea here too now that I think about it!

I was able to see and do a lot of sightseeing during my month there. The most amazing thing for me was the old ruins—abbeys and churches that dated back to 400 AD. (See photo.)

In the USA, 200 years is old. But when you see these ruins that are 1600 years old it boggles the mind---You think about how many souls that have lived and walked on that ground before you and you wonder who they were…and what they were like as persons and how they lived during that era.

We had the opportunity to visit New Grange, tombs which are older that the Pyramids in Egypt. The people living there 5000 years ago built this in such a way that once a year on the winter solstice at sunrise the rays of the sun would enter a slit built into the hillside (where the tombs were) and flood the floor of the chamber with light…just for a short time.
The theory is that the ancient people thought that this was the only time the spirits of their dead could rise from the earth to the heavens…during this short interval of sunlight at the winter solstice. This is the only time during the year this phenomena happens in the tomb chamber….This idea is very similar to the customs of the ancient Indians in the Americas. It is strong evidence to show we are all connected in Spirit through the ages, place and time.

There were multiple carvings on the rocks in the tomb… among them the symbols of the spiral…symbolizing eternity…and the fern, which is the universal symbol for new life. (See photo above of New Grange with symbols on the rock.)
Coincidently, the fern is the symbol for New Zealand as well and is everywhere in their culture. (See photo for examples of New Zealand fabric.)

I found that students no matter where they reside are enthusiastic, excited to learn and eager to share everything…fabric, information and knowledge. (See samples of Aussie fabric pictured here.) In the same way quilters everywhere also share the same insecurities about their work, color choices and designs as well. We all share a common bond and I believe that is because our inspirations and creativity comes from a common Source.

One thing that I didn’t expect in Ireland…there are very, very FEW stand-alone quilt shops. Most Irish quilt shops are in an owner’s home or garage. I am not sure why…it just is that way. (See examples of Irish fabric.) They Irish quilters were also eager for books and threads, both seem to be in short supply. And I’ve also noticed that quilting books/fabric, quilting supplies (and just about everything else) are significantly more expensive overseas in all countries (that I’ve taught in) than in the USA…big time! I think this is due not only because of shipping costs from point of origin, but due to the huge VAT tax (some as much as 25%) that these governments impose (I’ve been told this pays for their health care systems). For instance, I taught in Denmark in 2008 (and will again next spring) and my book sold for the equivalent of $60 American dollars. And our usual batiks and cotton fabrics that cost $10 a yard in the USA were the equivalent to $30 USD a yard in Denmark. (Note Vikki's latest DVD based on her book.)

All in all this year we had 35 flight segments during this year (19 in NZ/Australia alone) with aircraft ranging from 747s to a 19-seater prop in NZ (We had to fly over the “Southern Alps” of NZ in that thing…the tanker filling the plane with gas was as big as it was!)

As with all things, there is a yin/yang to being a traveling teacher. I absolutely love what I do and consider myself richly blessed to be able to experience all this…my wonderful students and people I meet, the memories of the beautiful places and scenery that are emblazoned in my mind.

It’s not all glamour though...it’s not easy living out of a suitcases and airports and hauling heavy baggage. Even as I compose this blog I’m on a plane to yet another teaching engagement. (See photo of Vikki feeding the lorikeets.)

My conclusion is that it is all worth it!! The really only bad thing is putting on the pounds from trying all the great food from these countries…Irish Stew, the great soups in Ireland, scones and lemon curd (my favorite) lamb, fish and chips, beer, the lamb …maybe that’s not so bad either as I think of it! Guess I’ll just have to hit the treadmill for a longer walk!
Now my traveling for the year is finished. Denny and I’ll look forward to relaxing and playing with our new grandson. Hopefully we’ll sort out the thousands (not kidding!) of photos we shot. With a little luck, I may even have the opportunity to quilt!

P.S. Vikki is planning a tour in Denmark in 2010. Check out her website for dates and other information. Please contact Vikki via her email for more information about her books, classes, lectures and workshops.