Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quilt Pilgrims head home from Houston

Daily chores, schedules, needs continue, but part of me is attuned to the West, to Houston, Texas, and the International Quilt Market. Everybody who is anybody in quilting were there this week.

The quilt displays were remarkable, awesome, unique, creative, imaginative, and intimidating -- you can count on that without even seeing them. Was Hollis there with her tradition-shattering thread painted quilts, Diana McClun and Laura Nownes -- the writers of the original quilters Bible "Quilt! Quilt!! Quilt!!!" did they teach another generation of beginners and not so new quilters their secrets. My editor at Quilters World is probably exhausted and her brain and camera are probably overwhelmed. And here I sit wishing, wishing, wishing, I could have experienced the excitement of being in the eye of the quilting hurricane that Houston experiences at the end of every October.
(Although, note that next year the date is earlier in the month -- Oct. 15-18, 2009.)

I've missed all of the Bernina fashion shows -- this, Rendezvous, is the last year for them and went out in a blaze of lights with full runway frills and excitement. I live vicariously through the women and men who display their unique creations and am constantly amazed at what can be made with needle and thread and a bit of fabric.

The merchant mall -- I can only dream.

The classes -- what a line up of quilting's heavy hitters!

The displays and exhibits, contests and well, I just hope someday to get there to see it first hand. But until I do, I devour the online photos taken from this year's and other International Quilt Market events. The photos included here of Moonstitches and other photos are at Flicker -- they are from the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2008. If ever you were bereft of inspiration, just take a quick peek at what is being displayed in 2008 and you'll be itching to grab some fabric and start following your own muse. Anyone have some Houston or Tokyo experiences to share? Photos? Please, do.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tis the season for sharing

Well, any season is the right season for caring and sharing, but with Christmas fast approaching and Thanksgiving on our doorstep, it always seems most heavy on our minds to give back a little for all of the goodness we have received. Those of us who enjoy crafts and fabric art can use these talents to help others. The list is long for ways to get involved whether you knit, crochet, quilt, sew, or simply collect fabric which is what my husband thinks I do whenever he walks into my 'craft' room.

When looking for a charity to support, do your homework. Ask the staff at your local quilt, yarn, or craft shop, or a teacher with whom you're taking a class. They will probably have charity project information or names of groups who are already making charity projects. Check out reputable websites such as Kaye Wood's, who has a nice list of reputable charities.

Here is just a short list of a few ways to provide comfort, help out those with needs, or to help raise money for research or assistance.

Knit One Save One: Part of the Save the Children organization, this project will distribute knit and crocheted caps to pregnant women and new moms and their babies in many countries, including Ethiopia, Mozambique and Afghanistan. In early 2009, Save the Children will take the notes to the next President and discuss needed actions.

Caps for Kids: There are so many children and adults in need of a bright colored cap to wear when they lose their hair to chemotherapy. At a time when their lives are in enough turmoil, perhaps having a cap someone has made just for them, will bring some renewed hope into their life. Please help today.

Project Linus is comprised of hundreds of local chapters and thousands of volunteers across the United States. It is the mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.” Second, to provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children. Together they have distributed more than two million blankets to children in need since 1995. The above photo is a donation mentioned on Adrienne's Blog.

The Painted Turtle, part of the Hole in the Wall Camp: Paul Newman's program. Each camper's bed is covered with a quilt and lap quilts are provided for each camper. This particular camp sends home a turtle pillow with each camper.

Quilts for Kids: To transform unwanted and discontinued fabric into quilts that comfort children in need.

And as an animal lover, I'm partial to The Snuggle Project which is under the auspices of Hugs for Homeless Animals. With three cats of my own who love their travel blankets that I knit for them when we made our cross country trip to our new home, I can vouch for the comfort these little blankets bring. The Snuggle Project provides 'security blankets' for animals housed in shelters.

Of course the quilters who have been doing the most for the longest are associated with Mennonite Central Committee which provides quilts and relief everywhere. Their quilts and comfort cover the world. When we live
d in the Toledo, Ohio area, I remember attending the Sunshine Children's Home auction where Mennonite women had made and donated hundreds of quilts to be auctioned off for support of this home that caters to children with horrendous birth defects. The auction continues each June, now under the name Black Swamp Benefit Bazaar. What a great place to purchase quilts made by the most talented and devoted women I've ever met, and the money certainly supports a worthy cause.

Quiltville has a list of other charities you might want to support. Or perhaps you kn
ow a family in your community, a military family, a homeless shelter, a family member who could use a little extra love and warmth and help this year. It is true, the more you give, the more you get. Simply knowing we can do something to ease anther's pain or isolation puts new spring in our steps and lifts our own spirits.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Following the thread

A crochet newsletter "Talking Crochet with Carol Alexander" arrived in my box and I followed some of the links. Indirectly it led to Carol Wiebe at Silversprings studio site by way of Joana Vasconcelas' work. I am in awe of both artists and their creations. But I returned to Carol's site when I saw the word: quilt.

Carol considers art a bridge and I happily cross the bridge into her country.

She somehow combines paper, crochet and quilts into her gorgeous and ingenious and thought-provoking projects. The one pictured here is titled Messengers and is 36x44-inches. She has worked on it for three years before adding it to her exhibit at Greenwood Quiltery in Ontario. Carol's art will hang in the gallery throughout October.

Carol writes about this piece: "The edges have a crocheted binding. The fabric is my own hand painted fabric. After quilting, I keep painting. The first time I painted onto a quilt that I had spent a lot of time stitching, I was really nervous. Now, I’m excited by it. You never know how the quilted surface and the paints and other products you put on it will interact. It’s a kind of “dangerous” serendipity that I’ve never regretted yet."

The saying in the quilt is one by Brenda Ueland who has a Wikipedia entry and is perhaps best known for her book "If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit"

"Think of yourself as an incandescent power, illuminated and perhaps forever talked to by God and his messengers." -- Brenda Ueland
And this is what Carol writes about the message of her Messenger quilt: "The messengers are gathering in prime formation: 2 butterflies, 3 dragonflies, 5 angels, 7 crows, 11 stars. To truly hear their message, you must kill the ego. Egos are wont to kill the messenger when they dislike the message they are receiving, but that is a useless tactic. The message will simply find you another way, through another messenger."

Finding this quilt and Carol's art has been serendipitous, precipitated by a need to knit which led to a search for easy patterns. I admit that my own creations certainly pale in comparison. This need manifests periodically, especially when I need a reprieve from the world. In this case the need coincided with my purchase of an audio book that I am thoroughly enjoying, but can't sit around empty handed while I listen. So I knit.

My first effort during this knitting marathon was made to use up yarn that I've had sitting around forever -- a huge ball raveled from unfinished projects time and again. This piece of knitting seems to serve as an unusual table runner. Then I discovered some cotton yarn that had been tucked away for at least a year. Of course that turned into a dishcloth. Those little suckers are addicting!

And now while digging around in my stash, I've rediscovered some exquisite cashmere and I don't know what else blend of yarn that feels so good to handle. At present it appears to be turning into a neck scarf. I will never make art. Certainly nothing to rival the beauty that Carol creates, but I think we both get similar feelings of joy from our creativity. And being a meat and potatoes kind of woman, I like the utilitarian aspects of what I've made.

Oh, and the audio book, purchased at Recorded Books online, with which I'm obsessed? "Voyager" by Diana Gabaldon of course.