July 22nd, 2007

I had another really fun, yet very busy, weekend! This weekend was the every-other-year Kaleidoscope Quilt Show in Northwest Ohio. It is held at Lourdes College and it was a beautiful weekend here with sunny skies and temps in the 75-80 range and not too humid. Despite the great weather OUTSIDE, lots of people seemed to make it INSIDE to visit the show! This is great because like many of you, I consider it my personal mission to get as many people as possible sucked into the cult of quilting!

It was extra special for me because two of my quilts won awards! The first quilt, called “Compassion Blooms at Hospice of Northwest Ohio” was made in honor of the 25th anniversary of our local community hospice. This quilt won Best Art Quilt award and here’s a picture of it:


The figure in the center of one person cradling another is our logo…isn’t it beautiful? I think it represents such a lovely sentiment. The quilt is made of commercial fabrics and I painted the background fabric surrounding the logo because I wanted it to seem that a warmth was emenating from the logo. I was trying to depict the concept of compassion blooming from the heart at the bottom of the quilt, and then that spirit of compassion kind of encompassing everyone. I made the vines out of small hearts, kind of like a stylized bleeding heart that was enveloping all. Here’s a closeup of part of the vine:


(For the record, I thought that the free motion embroidery I did around all of those little hearts might just kill me because many of them are only about 1/4 inch high! What was I thinking?!!) Anyway, this quilt was truly a joy for me to make, from start to finish. You, know, I never write anything personal about myself in this blog…if you’ve noticed, I ONLY write about quilting and embroidery and other than a few small tidbits about my very funny husband, Ernie, I really don’t reveal much about myself. Well, it is hard to talk about this quilt without it becoming personal. I feel very deeply about hospice, about the philosophy of hospice and about our hospice in particular. I started working at Hospice of Northwest Ohio not quite 3 years ago…and this has been the best experience of my life. I meet people and families and friends who are at such a vulnerable place in their life and it is really such an honor to share such an intimate time with them. Most people that I meet think that hospice is just for the last couple weeks of life and this is not so…we are there for the last several months of life and I have had so many people tell me these have been the best months of their life that I know hospice is a valuable thing. Our culture shuns the dying process and yet, there is something quite valuable about this time and it’s important that we acknowledge it and help each other through it. This is what brings me to what I was trying to illustrate in this quilt. There is something so rich, so moving, and so life-transforming about being able to witness people extending themselves for one another; helping each other through this difficult time, that you can’t go to work everyday and be a part of this without being changed by it. I get to see the best in people, again, and again, and again. Am I saying that all deaths are “good deaths;” that there are no messy, dysfunctional familial relationships that get played out during the dying process? Of course not. What I am saying is that we all have such a wonderful capacity for being compassionate, and in this job, I have the privilege of seeing a great deal of this. It has totally changed my view of people and made me hopeful about mankind. Ever since I’ve worked there, I walk around feeling like I know this special secret, and the secret is about just how wonderful people can be toward one another.

I was at the show for most of the weekend doing free motion quilting demos at the Quilt Foundry booth. Because of the hospice quilt, so many people came up to me and talked about their own experiences of having a loved one in the hospice program and they all spoke so glowingly…it made me feel so great to know how they had been touched by hospice!

Enough of me rattling on about kindness…The other quilt that won an award was Leaf Cycles II. It won the Best Use of Hand Dyed Fabrics Award:


And here’s a closeup of part of it:


No great symbolism here; I’m just hung-up on the beauty of leaves!

A Few Pictures

July 15th, 2007

First off, thank you so much to everyone who took the time to post a comment or to send me an email about the trapunto tutorials…it is just so gratifying to get feedback! Rest assured that Ern and I will make more short tutorials for the web; I have several ideas brewing in my head as we speak! But first, we need to stay focused on that next DVD.

Now, for a few pictures of part of what I worked on today…I did not use a tripod and it SHOWS! Many of these are not as clear as I’d like and it must have been due to my hand moving. For me, today was again a lesson in the transformative power of thread:
First up is a basic vine before hyperquilting:


The thread I used for hyperquilting was gold, and in this case quite subtle, (not my usual “in your face” kind of color choice!), but I still think that it adds some punch:


Next up is a finger-like fern that I made up. I don’t think this actually exists in nature, but I really love this shape. This one was actually done with free motion embroidery when this was just a quilt top:


If you compare that last one with the previous vines, you get a sense of the “puffing out” effect of the embroidery. This is because once it was in a quilt sandwich, I stitched around the edge of the blue thread with invisible thread. This close-up might give you a better sense of this:


Next we have an example of what I call the “aggressive vine” before hyperquilting:


And now after hyperquilting:


And now one last aggressive vine before…


And now after…


I actually spent the bulk of the afternoon working on a different quilting project, and if I can get it done soon, I’ll post pictures because it’s a fun and fairly easy weekend project. But for now, I have to wait because it’s not in a state yet that would wet your appetites!!

By the way, this coming weekend is our local quilt show, Kaleidoscope of Quilts, at Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio. I’ll be doing some quilting demos in the Quilt Foundry booth for parts of Saturday and Sunday, so stop by and say “hi!”

More Fun With Trapunto and Free Video Tutorial!

July 10th, 2007

At the risk of overwhelming you with this subject, I’m going to post on it again because this is just so darn much fun and honestly, it’s pretty easy to do! It creates multiple depths to your quilt and when you look at trapuntoed quilts, you just want to reach out and touch them, as if to verify that what you THINK you are seeing is actually there! This is when I feel I have done a good job on a quilt, if it has made the viewer want to touch it. Check out this wall hanging below:


Now here is a closeup of the face of the pansy in very poor tangential lighting…I did this so you’d have a better sense of the cool textures and depths created by the trapunto:


And here’s a close-up of the artsy-fartsy leaves I quilted just outside the appliqued flower:


And here’s a close-up of the background quilting:


Trapunto done in this fashion is actually quite fast, the only added steps being to pin a piece of scrap batting under the applique area to be trapuntoed and then to later cut away this excess batting once the edges of the appliqued piece have ben secured by either a decorative stitch or by a plain old satin stitch. I just posted a 2 part video tutorial, (FREE!!!), that shows how this wall hanging was made on YouTube. To watch each part go to the addresses below. Be forewarned that all thr machine actions, (this is the part that’s the most fun and interesting!), is on Part 2, so if you bore easily, just watch that part. Part 1 is about preparing the top for trapunto.

Part 1


(Someday I will learn how to make an actual link, but for now, you can cut and paste the address into the address box. Sorry, I’m still learning!) The quality of video on YouTube isn’t as good as we’d like, but it’s FREE bandwidth!

Ernie and I thought the video was easier to understand than a series of still photos, so if you like it and find it helpful, please let us know and maybe we’ll throw up some other videos down the road!

A Few Things and Some Pictures

July 7th, 2007

First off, treat yourself to another trip to Sally’s blog at:
You have got to see what Sally’s up to now…this girl has definitely got a major thing going on with her feathers!! I don’t know about you guys, but I am now adding her to my daily blogroll of blogs to check out REGULARLY! Isn’t this so wild that we can peak into other quilters’ studios who are working half a world away?! Thank goodness for the internet!

This has been the oddest week for me. We are in NC and when I came down here, I had about 16 different quilting projects that I was working on. Normally, I have about 6-7 projects going at once and this has worked well for me for years; it’s enough variety to keep me stimulated all the time but not so much that I am overwhelmed. Well, I guess I’m officially overwhelmed! My thinking has been so diffuse and I’m really having a hard time being able to focus on any one of these projects long enough to make some real headway. Finally today I made a bit of headway on one quilt. I am making this one to study different types of vines. This first area is one I call the whimsical vine:


Below is what it looks like in the corners. It’s a bit easier to see here since there’s a better contrast color-wise:


If you’ve done the feathers DVD, you’ll note the similarities between it and the whimsical feather. Here it is again with the background quilted:


The next border on the quilt has a different type of vine. Here’s a look before the background is quilted:


And this is this section with the background quilted:


Now here is where I need some help! Check out this corner shot in the light green fabric. You can hardly see the hyperquilting because the fabric and thread have next to no contrast:


Now this is my dilemma…I need to create contrast, so I am thinking of outlining all the green hyperquilted areas with a gold thread, but I’m worried this is going overboard. I can’t do the background quilting until I make this decision, so any help would be most appreciated!

A 4th of July Note from Ernie

July 4th, 2007

We have had a surge in international orders over the last month, and have found a way to get better rates on purchases of multiple DVDs for our customers outside the USA. We will implement these changes immediately, and pass the savings on to our customers. Happy 4th of July to all our readers! Ernie