Friday, December 30, 2011

Time to Reflect

The end of a year is a time when I like to think back over the last twelve months, and reflect on those things I have managed to do, and those things that still remain undone, and make a few choices about what comes next. I don't like the idea of New Year's resolutions - I'm so lousy at keeping them - but I do like to set quilt-related goals for the coming year. To begin the process, I first think about those quilts I am most pleased to have made, and these are the three that came to mind this year. The first one is called "Just for the Joy of It", because that's what it was. I made all sorts of log cabin blocks, using fabrics from my scrap box. Some had diamond shaped centres and some had door shaped centres. I kept making them and joining them to one another until the quilt seemed about the right size to snuggle under when I'm reading a good book. It has gone to live in my cabin on Hornby Island. What did I learn from making this quilt? That I am thrilled to use up little bits of leftover fabrics from projects made many years ago. Each time I reach into the pile, it's like encountering old friends. That I enjoy intuitive piecing, in which I don't really know what the
outcome will be; that it's the process of asking myself "shall I use a little of this or a little of that?", of deciding quickly, or risking not
not knowing what it will be and then being happy with the outcome. So whatever else I choose to do this year, I would like to make more
quilts like this one. The second quilt is "Encounters with Kente", a piece in which I was inspired by an original piece of Kente cloth purchased while in Ghana, in designing an original accompanying piece, while remembering the crowds and heat and colour of Ghana. I sold this piece the first time it was shown, so haven't had the opportunity to live with it, but felt so alive while I was making it - there was a "rightness" to a move in that direction - that I am now committed to making more pieces in what I now see as a series. The third quilt was finished this year, although it was started some time ago. It's called "Celestial Dance", and I've shown a close-up photo as well as one of the whole quilt. When I learned to "couch" threads in a Carol Taylor workshop, I had no idea where it would take me. I have adapted her method and made it my own, and am using the small folds of fabric cut when I am making up "fat quarters". I have made other smaller pieces using this technique, and in the coming year, plan to make other larger pieces. You will notice that I've also used it in "Encounters with Kente". So this is how far I've got so far in my end-of-year, taking-stock/listing accomplishments/setting goals for the new year process that I'm goind through. I would love to hear back from any of you who go through a similar process yourselves. And of variations in this practice. Thanks for letting me share my own.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Other Africa-Inspired Quilts

I hope you have all enoyed a wonderful Christmas, full of all the good things that bring us together - especially friends, family, food. And that you have been enjoying a relaxing Boxing Day - tidying up the leftover bits of paper and ribbon, cleaning up the remaining turkey and trimmings, bringing back some sense of order to your home and life. Boxing Day is one of my favourites of the year - I indulge in reading a good book, doing a Sudoku or two, and possibly bringing out a new jigsaw puzzle to try. It's also been a day to begin thinking about what I want to work on next - which quilts I have managed to work on this year
and which quilts I hope to work on during the coming year. I thought you would enjoy seeing a few previously unposted Africa-inspired quilts, to get your own creative juices going. First is Sandy's African Collage piece - beautifully balanced, and most effective in showcasing the African art work. Next is Margaret Kelly's scrap piece, which I might have showed you before. It's been donated to the Kitambaa Sewing project, and will be quilted and bound shortly, with Opportunities to Own it being offered to you whenever it makes an appearance.The next two photos show the front and detailed quilting on
Janet Archibald's African Collage. Just gorgeous, Janet. She took the motifs from around the silk-screened animals and used them as the inspiration for the quilting designs she used in her border. And lastly are three little hut Christmas ornaments - made by the Niger quilters I introduced you to earlier this month. Perhaps they might be a fund-raiser for us for next Christmas? I also wanted to let you know that most of the money to finish Alice's new sewing school has now been raised. Christmas sales were terrific! There have also been donations of 5 new sponsorships for students to her school, and several donations of sewing machines, so that graduating students can be provided with treadles, fabric and thread as they begin their own businesses. My husband will be leaving for Uganda the day after tomorrow, and will be gone for 4 months. He is taking new "fashions" for Alice and her students to start producing, as well as some of the fabric they need for borders, new sewing machine
needles, more embroidery floss, and various other things for the Bitengye Designers. He will be seeing all of them at one time or another, so will send photos that I will then be able to pass on to you. Thank you to all of you who have continued to support this work, and who have bought items made by these remarkable women, and so have enabled them to provide for their families in all the ways we take for granted we can provide for our own families. You have truly made a difference in their lives!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quilters in Niger, and other news

Recently I received a very interesting email from Shannon - a quilter from Niger in West Africa. Her mother had purchased my It Takes a Village pattern in the US, and she sent me photos showing me a couple of ways it had been used with local fabrics, as well as telling me about the quilting going on in that part of the world. The first photo is Shannon's own design, based on an enlarged version of my African hut. Then there is 10-year old Micah, with his very own Village Quilt. And the third photo is of an auction quilt, made by Shannon's quilting group to raise money for a local school. Thanks so much for writing, Shannon, and telling us all about yourselves. It's pretty exciting to hear, and encouraging to us too.

Then there is this lovely photo of a very happy Nerissa (from the Comox Valley), the proud owner of this year's Opportunity to Own quilt. (I hope the dog is only invited onto the quilt on rare and very special occasions, Nerissa!) And the last photo is of our sweet Nora - now 5 months old and chewing on everything in sight. She's just delightful - smiling readily, gurgling and chortling, and especially happy when she is in her jolly jumper. I was able to visit her earlier this week, and to help out by looking after her for a few hours at a time. Now I am back home again resting up for their Christmas visit to us. One last note. When I posted the photo of Gladys's winning 12 X 12 quilt on my last blog, I neglected to link you to her own blog - http://www.fibresoul.blogspot,com/ - where she describes her process in making this piece. My apologies for not including that info earlier.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Water Challenge Quilts - The Group formerly known as TheTamagawa Textile Artists

I returned this week from a quilting retreat at Honeymoon Bay Lodge. Eighteen of us, most of whom have been going on retreats together for the better part of 10-15 years, experienced a new venue for us, and it was a great success. Queen sized beds for all (no more bonking our heads on upper bunks), a hot tub, cosy common rooms and catered meals. It was great. There was even a massage therapist on site! It was great to see everyone, and what they were working on, and once again to vote on the challenge quilts. This time the theme was water/the coast, and it was interpreted in a number of
different ways. I'm only able to show you a few of them here. Some were in a 12" X 12" format, while others grew to be the size they wanted to be. We had winners in both categories - Gladys Love's in the "12 X 12 category" - its the last shown here, and incorporates a slice of stone from the Lower Mainland. Just gorgeous! And in the "Other size" category, the winner was Carol Seeley's polar bears. Her hand applique is exquisite, and the theme of polar bears who are becoming homeless as the polar ice cap melts, is beautifully portrayed. I feel so fortunate to be amongst these friends - such a creative group - twice
a year. Nothing like the creative energy that abounds at such a gathering.