Embrace the Wobble

DSC_0135I don’t know how much I have described my quilting style, except that if you follow me on this blog or other forms of social media, you may know that I work in a liberated form of quilting. Slow quilting for sure. Making parts and pieces with design decisions along the way. Generally no patterns (there are exceptions occasionally). I also work from a design wall. Putting up bits and bobs and leaving them there as I work, sometimes for weeks, or months. OK, usually months.

special pieces

Truth be told sometimes I take stuff down because I get tired of looking at it and working on it. I’ll put up another WIP or start something new then come back to the original. Or not. As a result of this method what I am working on typically does not travel well. Taking it off the wall seems like too much effort.

When I travel to my quilting bee at friends’ houses (we rotate who hosts) it can be difficult to know what to stitch. Last fall I grabbed a bin of overflowing strings with the intention of starting a series of log cabin experiments. The first would be a single log cabin block, worked in the round. Some people would call this improvisational. I don’t. Whatever.

DSC_0137Traditionally, the center of any log cabin quilt block is red. This represents the hearth and center of the home. The light and the warmth. What we love to gather ‘round. I added skinny strings at first with no sense for color placement. There is no measuring. In fact, the strings were not measured when initially cut. They are not straight widths, some have bias. I trimmed them with scissors when I got to the end of the row. Early on I pressed only every few rows. As it got big, then bigger, I had to press after every round to keep it “manageable.”

IMG_0005I started this quilt without an intended recipient. Quilting for quilting sake. No rules. Embracing the wobble. It was quick stitching. About 2.5 feet wide in one night.

But life throws you curveballs.

In early January my aunt was diagnosed with lymphoma. Overnight this quilt had an intended purpose, no longer relegated to giving me something to do as an entremet to my main project.

The beauty of this type of quilt is its meditative nature. Each string is attached in the round with stitches love, and hope, and strength into the seams. A prayer quilt (yes even non-believers pray sometimes). I worked fast to get it finished and gifted. Some things can’t wait.

IMG_0017It uses some coveted fabrics like fancy French cake fabric purchased in Tokyo. What is the point in hoarding saving these fabrics anyway? They should be used, and loved.

IMG_0010IMG_0025This quilt doesn’t lay flat despite my best efforts to press it into submission. And it is certainly not square. I actually thought it best to just trim it up freehand (sans ruler or measurements) on the kitchen floor after quilting since nothing else in it is square. It seemed the right thing to do.

DSC_0146Life throws us curveballs and sometimes all we can do is make a quilt and embrace the wobble.



Title: Embrace the Wobble (Log Cabin #1)

Size: I forgot to measure. Big enough to wholly wrap up in. Likely about 65” X 75”

Materials: 100% cotton strings. From stash processing, from friends, from other friends, from the floor at retreat. Cotton thread. 100% cotton batting (three big pieces frankenbatted)

Started: September 2014 Finished: January 2015

For Pammy.


Winner, Winner, Chicken, Dinner

Thank you SOOOO much to all of you who left such thoughtful comments on my EZ Dresden Process post. As a new blogger, but longtime quilter, you never really know how things will go in blogland. Whether people will “get it” or even care. I found myself second-guessing my post early on, but then just stuck with it, knowing I was being true to myself. But, I digress…

WE HAVE A WINNER!! I used my random generator (a.k.a to husband “pick a number between 1 and 54,” “32”) to select one. usairdoll (keeping internet names to protect the innocent) said:

WoW! How interesting and inspiring your post is. It really is neat to see how other’s thought process works. Although I’ve been quilting and sewing for over 20 years, my background is more traditional. I saw something I liked, I bought fabric and made it. It’s only recently that I’ve thought about creating something on my own. That being the key word “thought”. I’m not even sure where to start. I guess this is where “just do it” comes into play. hehe. I enjoy these blog hops as I always find talented and inspiring people that I want to hear more from. I loved your post and when I’m done here I’m going to become a follower. Thanks again for sharing your process, lists and pictures. ;D

I’ve been in touch with usairdoll and she is currently doing the happy dance. I only wish I had a picture.

NOW…I really need to dig into some quilting. I’ve been on vacation then coming back into reality/RealJob and haven’t stitched in over a week. Tonight is MY night. I’m taking the dresden down (we have all summer, right?) and likely putting Twin 2 quilt back up. It needs to get done before the babies graduate.

On Birthdays and Easter

Today is my birthday. I am 40. Forty. The BIG 4-0. And it doesn’t feel a bit different. It felt different when I turned 30. Many things changed. But now–things just seem to get better and better. I hope this is a trend.

I remember when I was a little kid and realized that there was a chance my birthday would fall on Easter. This was really exciting for an 8-yr old. Cake AND a holiday, one celebrated with dyed eggs, chocolate, and LOTS of candy. Sign. Me. Up!

So I went about trying to calculate when this would occur. By my simple addition I figured it would happen when I was about 12 or so. WRONG. Little did I know that (western) Easter was a “roaming holiday,” and varied based upon the full moon and the spring equinox. The Catholics were really on to something there–keep the kids guessing. The Orthodox Christians (who weren’t at the time) thought otherwise.

Low and behold, my birthday wasn’t on Easter until 1998. I was in graduate school in Idaho and ALL BY MYSELF. It was a bummer. I celebrated with one of those half-circle grocery store cakes frosted to look like a pastel bunny. YUM.

In 2009 I celebrated my birthday while on my honeymoon in Japan. On that day we took our first bullet-train ride (my first train ride EVER) from Tokyo to Takayama. We stayed at a fabulous Japanese Inn (Tanabe Ryokan) and ate a delicious kaiseki (traditional, seasonal, multi-course) meal. Cake wasn’t on the menu, but raw squid tentacles were! YUM (not)!

Tanabe KaisekiMy birthday fell on Easter again in 2009 and I don’t really remember anything about it. We were in transition. Transition in jobs, housing, life. I think our brains try to block some things to protect us. That was a difficult time.

My birthday will fall on Easter one more time in my lifetime–2020–I’ll be 48. What will I be doing then? Where will I be? In transition? In Japan (wouldn’t that be something!)? I can’t wait to see what the future holds. But for now I’m just going to savor being 40. It seems like a pleasant-enough number. Don’t you think?

The Bee’s Knees

While at my old job (that’s another post for another time) I had the opportunity to meet, work, and partner with some fabulous people—fabric companies, quilt designers, fabric designers, notion geniuses (genii?), creative directors, marketing directors—the list goes on. Fall and Spring Quilt Market is like one crazy reunion of all these people united under one roof for all things quilt. As an editor, it was exhausting and rejuvenating all at the same time.

At one such market (I think it was Fall 2010) which debuted the fabrics that would be released the following spring, I fell in love with Terrie Mangat’s (then) new line—The Bee’s Knees—for Free Spirit Fabrics. It’s the bee’s knees indeed. With its funky color palette, more is more aesthetic, and the at once whimsical and wacky designs, it is pure Terrie.

The Bee's Knees by Terrie Mangat

In the Free Spirit booth hung a stunning and complex quilt which ultimately would become a free pattern on the company’s web site. It was this design that originally caught my eye as hexagons were just barely starting to experience a rebirth in the quilting community. I wanted to get a design like this to my readers. As a scientist I was drawn to the clever pairing of hexagons with bees on the fabric. Plus, I’m a sucker for simple repetitive geometry.

I wasn’t able to work out an arrangement with Terrie before I resigned, but fortunately for me, Nancy from Free Spirit hooked me up with a HUGE box of every SKU in the collection. Like somewhere around 100+ yards. What can I say—I’m a REALLY lucky girl. I LOVE this line, but I don’t know that I love it 100 yards worth.

So what was a quilter to do? I decided to bundle it up and offer it to members in my guild—with strings attached.

Behold: The Bee Hexed Challenge.

Ten players hopped on board, with some having blogs and agreeing to share their work in progress.Their addresses are buried somewhere here (under piles of fabric)–I’ll share just as soon as I find them.

In the mean time I’m keeping with the Free Spirit/Rowan/Westminster theme I’ve started by deciding on the “My Fair Lady” quilt by Brandon Malby in Faffe Fassett’s Quilt Road.

This quilt will go to one of the new twin cousins in Taiwan. Progress posts soon to follow.

Charlie’s Wobot

I am Auntie to a sweet curly-strawberry-haired boy named Charlie. He turned three in December and it seems like yesterday that I was at his birth. I had been working on a quilt for him for ages, that I was going to “boomerang” back to his momma, my SIL. Needless to say, I’ve never finished it (but I do have plans), and instead decided two weeks before said  birthday that this boy needed a “wo-bot” quilt to go along with his robot OBSESSION.

Fortunately for me, Boo Davis has a smashing robot quilt in her (self-described sickeningly cute) book Dare to Be Square Quilting. You need this book. Trust me.

Unlike most people who as of late are obsessed with orange, and Tangerine Tango in particular, I hardly have any orange in my stash.You see, I am a stash quilter, meaning what I make is inevitably scrappy, in fabrics of various age and type, and not bought and used as part of an entire line. It’s not an approach for everyone, but it really works for me. This pattern called for YARDAGE of orange. Me, yardage of orange? Not. So I opted to make this quilt following my new rule of thumb–use what you have. Continue reading