Sunday, November 23, 2008

Global quilting fun

In today's search for new and exciting and interesting and fun quilts, I found Katrins Patchwork. I can't tell you any more about it than that because the words are in German (I think) and I'm a one-language kind of woman and German isn't it. My great-great grandfather would be so ashamed, I'm sure, that I don't know my native language. At least paternal native language. I'm a genealogy mutt as are most Americans, I suppose. But quilts transcend language barriers as you all know.

Anyway, I had to smile at the freedom and fun I saw sewn into each quilt.
While surfing, I thought I'd check out a few other far off lands and since its feeling a bit frigid here in Florida (temperatures dipped into the 40s! Oh my!) I thought of Nordic regions. And stumbled across the Norwegian Quilters Association. This winning entry caught my fancy. The purples and blues look so cold! I also was drawn to the quilt featuring a blue door and a chicken -- the quilt feels of simpler times, an European flavor with the simple blue door.

And then I spotted the Northern Sunflower wallhanging at another site: Quilt Around the World, complete with pattern. They looked cold and so inviting all at the same time. Love the use of colors and the spirals and spikes give a sense of movement. Also on that same site a variation on the pineapple pattern utilized the vibrant blues and looked like a stained glass window with the vibrant colors, yet not primitive or primary colors, more subtle than that. For those who enjoy log cabin designs. Check out the log cabin cube wall hanging. I don't think I've seen that done before.

The children's quilts and other wallhangings hold such whimsy at the Quilt Around the World site. Especially the Dancing Cheek to Cheek. If these quilts don't brighten your winter doldrums or put you in the mood to make something new -- you may require an intercession! Can't you hear the music? The jazzy sax and feel the love? Nothing says love like poultry. It's just so free spirited and fun loving I can't help but love it. And there are patterns!!!

Who says we have to be serious when we're designing quilts! Maybe cold weather will bring out our fun loving sides.

Often while surfing for Norwegian quilts, I came upon sites where Norwegian quilters proudly
offered photos of their quilts and to my dismay they were familiar wedding ring quilts and traditional patterns I grew up with. Yet, there's something to be said about a global community of quilters who can embrace quilt patterns no matter what country of origin.

Hope these samples of quilting in other lands will warm your winter day a bit. It did mine and set my fingers itching to try something just for fun! Maybe for a gift for someone with a carefree heart!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Strong statements depict patriotic nostalgia

I know you're looking at your calendar and saying, "Veteran's Day was LAST week." Well, I'm late, but we know it is never too late for nostalgia and any time is the right time for patriotism. So I'm not really late at all!

If you check out my Observations blog you'll see that I have been looking at sites that deal with World War II, war, sending Christmas cards to the troops. But most of all I have been reading the stories being told by some of the soldiers. A friend, Linda Swink, is close to publishing her book that compiles information about the people behind the names on military installations such as Fort Hood or Ramstein Air Force Base or Camp Lejuene, etc. I did some editing and proof reading for her and found myself captivated and devastated at the same time by the hardships and decisions these men and some women had to face. Throwing themselves in harms way, saving their friends, making the difference between winning or losing. Giving their lives without hesitation. I felt so humbled and yet proud to share the name American with such people. And so thankful that there are people who still step forward and fight to preserve our freedom and protect all of us.

Then I started looking for quilt stories and found the PBS site where Bobbie Sullivan told about a wall hanging based upon a fistful of letters found in her neighbor's house. (See top photo.) Bobbie described the inspiration for the quilt as:
"37 letters found in a 19th century Scituate home, were written between 1917 and 1918. The author was a young soldier from Braintree, Massachusetts named Joe. The recipient was his fiancée, Kitty, who lived in the adjacent town of Quincy, in a section called Atlantic. Joe was killed in the summer of 1918 six months before the end of World War I. Kitty never married and died in Scituate in 1979."

I tracked down Bobbie's website and found the quilt she had written about. A strong statement, I think. After seeing Bobbie's quilt, those little stars and stripes fabrics and red white and blue hearts and stars that seem to pass for a patriotic statement seem silly.

Faith Ringgold's site is an inspiration in itself. And if you want patriotism, it abounds here. Again, strong statements of not just words but deeds and images and history that speaks so loudly of those heroes who fought for freedom. (See her Flag Story Quilt to the right.)

I'm still fond of Eileen Doughty's patriotic activist quilts. One she made may be the only quilt I have ever seen that is embellished with barbed wire. Never let your voice die, Eileen, tell us the way it is, not that politically correct rhetoric. Sorry I don't have a link to her activist quilts, but visit Eileen's website, here.

And if you have a patriotic quilt to share -- check out this patriotic quilt contest titled "God Bless America Quilt Contest. Time is running out for entries. They should be 22 inches and will tour for three years to benefit wounded soldiers. Entries are open through Dec. 31, 2008. Click on the quilt contest link for more info.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas round the bend

Do you feel time whizzing by? I certainly do! I bought my first Christmas gift today and have a few already made and ready to mail. It is the time when I wish I had more time and energy and ideas. So I start checking out what others are making and decorating with this season. Among my first stops is McCalls Quilting. I posted separately another Christmasy log cabin wall hanging. Then I found these stockings and couldn't resist putting together another blog with examples of Christmas projects.

Chlotilde offers a quick and fun Christmas wreath, or it could be adapted to fit any occasion depending on the flowers you choose. The description reads: "Just select an attractive floral or seasonal print for the wreath and use easy Bargello quilt-as-you-go and fusible raw-edge appliqué techniques to make your wall quilt quickly and easily."

Tree skirt patterns seem to multiply like rabbits, but I particularly liked the simple spiral block designed skirt found on Delores Fegan's blog, under the blog heading Christmas Tree Skirt. What drew me to it wasn't exactly the design, although that's charming. It was her second use of the skirt -- for a child to wear....

Then I stumbled across Jennifer's Art Quilts and laughed out loud at her Christmas Cactus Quilt. I loved her description and explanation of the project -- like many of mine it took awhile to complete.
"This quilt was the result of a collaborative effort between my husband, Aaron, and me. The quilt was completed about 2 or 3 years ago and never finished. While photographing quilts for this website, I found the quilt folded among other things. I mentioned to Aaron that I might put Christmas light beads on the cactus to finish it, and he suggested that I actually light it up with LED lights. The idea took hold and he purchased the lights which I inserted onto the quilt. He then very graciously spent time soldering all of the lights and fuses together so that I could finish quilting the piece! It was completed just in time for Christmas season! "
I think what I find delightful, of course are the LED lights. Another option for quilters -- fiber optics! Light up your work from the inside!

Another wallhanging that depicts the greedier side of Christmas, perhaps is Quilter's World Gift Tree (free pattern).

Mary Emma Allen offers 7 quilted gift projects that kids can make. Patterns and instructions are NOT available at her blogsite. But these are straight forward projects -- pot holders, aprons, mini quilt.... And this site has a few more recommendations for quick and easy quilted gifts. Let me add another suggestion for those imaginative types -- Audio ear warmers! Everyone seems to be plugged in, well those plastic earphones can get mighty cold in the winter -- why not create a quilted muff to fit over them? I bet someone can figure out a pattern or already has!

As I was surfing, I came across several exhibits and wondered why we couldn't give ourselves a Christmas gift of a trip to an exhibit. Here's just one you might want to check out: "Quilts = Art= Quilts" at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn, NY -- that is definitely Christmas country!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Threads in the Fabric of Society: Patriotic and Political Quilts

During this presidential election year, political quilts gained popularity and can be seen across the U.S. in exhibits, most continuing through to the end of the year. A special exhibit at the International Quilt Market in Houston featured several exciting examples, including the one pictured here by Marjorie E. Johnson and titled "Get Out the Vote and Save America."

Politics and quilts have a long history. So many of the traditional quilt patterns were named for political races Tippecanoe, 54-40 or Fight, Whig Rose.... This site offers discussions and connects to links associated with political or patriotic quilts. It shows how quilts are "an important thread in the fabric of our society."

Two current exhibits:
  • The Heritage Center Museum in Lancaster, PA "Patchwork Politics: From George to George W." features a large private collection of politically themed quilts, textiles and memorabilia.It will continue through Dec. 31, 2008. The Philadelphia Inquirer offers an informative article about the exhibit.
If you're interested in finding more political quilts or historic quilts or wish to pursue your own quilt research, the online Quilt Index offers thousands of quilts, documentation, information and ways to search according to your needs. "The Quilt Index represents years of research and development to bring together quilt information in a centralized online tool for education, research, and public access. The Quilt Index was conceived and developed by The Alliance for American Quilts and implemented in collaboration with Michigan State University's MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online and the Michigan State University Museum."

Lori Creel has written an article about some of the quilts available through the Quilt Index including one that belonged to Abigail Adams, one used to raise funds for the Ku Klux Klan and a long list of amazing quilts linked to historical events.

Fundraising quilts also made political and patriotic statements and were used for all kinds of causes as mentioned above to raise funds for KKK. Whatever the need, community, Red Cross, disaster relief, you name it. This site maintained by the Nebraska State Historical Society offers photos of the fundraiser quilts and a brief description -- interesting. Very interesting.

And a list of political quilts and activist quilters could continue for many pages, but it wouldn't be complete without mention of the Boise Peace Quilt Project which has been going strong since 1981.

And if you haven't voted -- why not!