Thursday, May 26, 2016

Crazy Quilts, Sessions 4 and 5: Progress

In January, Teri and I (Kara) started teaching a class called "Crazy Quilting: Start to Finish." You can read about how this class came about here. We began with block construction in session one, marking and stitching motifs in session two, and in session three we got creative with ribbon. We have had two classes running simultaneously at different quilt shops, but with different schedules; once a month on Saturdays and every two weeks for six Wednesday evenings. Our Wednesday class wraps up tonight, and we will share our students' finished projects in a future post, but this week we'd like to show you their progress thus far.

As part of the class we gave our students a piece of flannel-backed muslin to use as a practice piece for the stitches we taught. Some of our students turned their practice pieces into samplers, and another neatly labeled her stitches for future reference.

Working on a practice piece

Labeled stitches

A sampler-style practice piece 

Teri and I have taught our one-day crazy quilting class multiple times over the course of the last two years, but the drawback of that class is we rarely get to see the finished outcome of our students' work, let alone any progress they may have made. For this reason, we developed our 6-week class, and we have been floored, amazed, and tickled to see the creativity of the stitchers in our classes. And these aren't even the finished blocks! I won't wax on too much about how pleased we are to see our students' inspiring work; I will let it speak for itself. 

This student utilized the fairy tale theme.
A beautiful flower using hand-dyed silk,
a ribbon stitch, and some French knots
A stunning rose out of wired silk ribbon
A block close-up, with gathered ribbon "fireworks" over the castle
What a delightful, traditional spider and web
Neutral background fabrics set the stage for this student's creative and whimsical embroidery.
Adding a drizzle stitch
A birdbath in a garden
A clever use of narrow silk ribbon

Hardanger embroidery was incorporated into this block

Peaches, hummingbirds, and woven roses: three of my favorite things!
This student is using crazy quilt stitches on her
log cabin-style quilt block made with silk.

Did a love of music inspire this motif?

We love the use of the pearls on this block. 
The daisies are a great use of a piece of trim cut apart. The daisy petals in the motif represent "He loves me, he loves me not."

What a clever use of a crocheted doily!

We have been thrilled with the progress our students have made so far and are grateful that we have been blessed to teach them. They have taken what they've learned and run with it! As with any class we have taught, Teri and I have learned just as much from our students as they have from us. Stay tuned for our final wrap-up and review of this class!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hookers and Strippers

I bet that got your attention! But relax; this is a far nicer story than the title might suggest.

Have you ever walked into a place and been so overwhelmed that you had to sit down to take it all in? That's what happened to me (Teri) last week, when I was taking a walk with a friend through the downtown area of Frederick, Maryland.

Our usual practice on "book club" days is to park in a small parking lot in an area called Shab Row. We walk through town to the appointed restaurant, where we enjoy lunch and a lively discussion about the book we've read. Afterwards, my friend, Vicki, and I will take a walk through the city or in lovely Baker Park. She is a tolerant walking buddy, who puts up with my stops along the way to snap photos of inspiring flowers and such. After our walk, we often stop and shop in Shab Row.

Who could pass up the opportunity to stop and admire these irises and pansies? I can already imagine the silk ribbon in my hands, as I try to create such a pretty pansy! One gets the sense that even nature embroiders the center lines on these flowers. I think when I create my pansies, however, that I will omit the fly resting on the top petal!

This mother goose and her goslings in Baker Park were getting a good bit of attention. She seemed oblivious.

When we arrived back in Shab Row and were heading back to our cars, I looked up and saw a sign that grabbed my attention. As many times as I had been in that area, I couldn't remember seeing that sign, but then again, my memory isn't what it used to be. Of course, we had to go inside and check it out!

We entered the shop and were happily greeted by the owner, Kathy Makers. As my eyes adjusted to the change in light, I realized that I was gazing upon shelves full of beautiful wools and threads in a rainbow of colors. For a moment, I was speechless (which doesn't often happen), wondering how I had missed this shop in my many trips to that area. But I felt better about my observation skills when I asked her how long they had been open, and she replied, "Since Saturday." Well, no wonder I'd missed it . . . it wasn't there! I had to sit down (on a quite comfortable armchair) to look around before I started exploring the shop. 

As I sat, Kathy explained that she owns a shop a few doors down the block and needed a classroom area, so when this space opened up a few months ago, it gave her an excuse to expand and offer more merchandise. I'm sure my friend was choking back a laugh or two when Kathy asked, "Are you a hooker?" and I replied, "No, just a stripper." Kathy was, of course, referring to rug hooking, as she offers materials for that craft, as well as needle felting, punch needle, and wool appliqué. I explained that one of the first things we teach in an embroidery class is how to strip the floss and separate it into single strands, but we caution our students not to share that we've been stripping in class, lest people get the wrong idea.

One can never have too many threads, and what a great variety of colors and types she offers.

Wool yarn, roving, supplies for needle felting, and wool fabric scraps. Wool wonderland!


Shelves of wool in such luscious colors and designs, so inviting in their display. There was so much to see; I can't wait to go back and discover treasures that I missed. My great fear: finding a new love to demand my time!

A view to the front of the shop

What a lovely classroom with its cozy log cabin feel!

Proprietor Kathy Makers giving us a tour of her classroom area

We'll be back!

For more information about Primitive Homespuns, check out the website by clicking here.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Baltimore Album Questions and Observations

Today, I (Kara) am going to share the rest of our Baltimore Album block pictures from the Lovely Lane Museum trip. This trip was the first time that I had been in the presence of actual Baltimore Album Quilts that were not behind glass, so I was able to closely look at all the blocks. (Some of us even stood on chairs to get a closer look!) The beauty and intricacy of these quilts were awe-inspiring, yet they also raised a few questions. I thought I would use this post to share some observations and questions that arose from our trip.

One of the things that has always drawn me to Baltimore Album quilts is that they usually contain blocks with very vivid fabrics—unless they spent some time underwater, like the Reverend Best quilt did. So vivid, in fact, that it makes one marvel that these quilts are antiques.

I love the vivid blue and reds.

What a creative use of fabric for the vase

Simple shapes with eye-catching colors

A simpler basket variation with the bright colors 

Another observation is that the inking on these blocks is amazing. Beautiful handwriting is a lost art today (I include mine in that assessment), so to see the detail of the inking on these blocks up close was mind-blowing. Did they ink before or after they appliquéd the block? I know the hardest part of our fairy tale quilt for Teri was the inking, not the appliqué.

Such lovely handwriting

This artist even inked the sailors!

For me, one of the blocks stood out from all the rest: this lovely vase of flowers. The level of creativity the artist reached is truly inspirational. 

This block, from a distance, looks like a painting.

An inspired use of gradated fabric

This rose was done with a single piece of red fabric, but dimension
was added using embroidery and stitching.

Some of the blocks prompted questions among us as we took a closer look. One block led to some debate as to how the artist created the leaf veins.

The whole block

The vines appear to be couched cording.

Were the veins painted on or part of the fabric?

This block prompted us to ask, "Are those jalapeños?"

What fruit are the shapes above the lemon?

While this block begged the question, "Is that a basket handle or a really large caterpillar?"

Did she really stuff all the channels with cord and stuffing? How long did this quilt take to complete?
Who comes up with something this detailed?

All the quilting was done with a backstitch on this quilt.

Great attention to detail was put into so many of these blocks, and I hope to put that same level into my future blocks. It was such a privilege to be able to examine these quilts so closely and to learn from them. We hope we have brought you with us on our visit to the Lovely Lane Museum, and that you have been as inspired by these amazing Baltimore Album quilts as we were.