Category Archives: Musings

Around the World Blog Hop

My cyber friend and fellow Inklingo quilter Cathi from Quilt Obsession in Canada asked me to join the blog hop on November 17th. It sounded like fun but I couldn’t accept the invitation because I’d be in Virginia celebrating my father’s 90th birthday on that day. Several days later she emailed again and asked if I could do it on December 1st. I said I’d love to so here I am.

My instructions were to invite other bloggers to participate and to answer the following four questions:

What am I working on? How does my work differ from others of its genre? Why do I create? And how does my creative process work?

Sandy White is from Toledo, Ohio and has been quilting since the mid 90’s. Like Cathi and I Sandy is “an Inklingo groupie” and a hand piecer. She also enjoys hand appliqué and hand quilting.

#1 WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

 Wait – before I begin let me show you my Alabama Beauty which was still a work in progress when Cathi asked me to join the blog hop. I mailed it to my quilter Margaret Gunn while I was in Virginia.

 

I used the Inklingo Orange Peel Deluxe pattern. It is hand pieced – I even attached the border by hand​! With one exception all of the quilts shown here are hand pieced or appliquéd.

Alabama Beauty finished!!!

I will be entering it in QuiltFest, Jacksonville 2015 next September along with the following three quilts – which all need blocking and binding – so technically they can be included as work in progress. Right?

POTC

Patchwork Of The Crosses. Quilted by Margaret Gunn

Pie and Tarts

Pie and Tarts. Quilted by Margaret Gunn.

mini drunkard's path

2″ Drunkard’s Path. Quilted by Margaret Gunn. This is a mini – it measures less than 30″ square.

I have seven other projects in various stages of completion. I will start with the one that is well on it’s way to being finished

3″ DRUNKARD’S PATH

12 Drunkard's Path

I’ve started joining the 400 quarter blocks into what will eventually be 100 six inch full circle blocks – 10 blocks x 10 blocks.

No border is planned – which will be a first for me – there is so much going on I think it will be able to stand alone.

NEW YORK BEAUTY

nyb-1-4

I have resisted the urge to preselect the fabric combinations – I think it might be fun to do one at a time. When designing blocks I always set aside the fabric I have used to avoid repeating it. That forces me to use my stash and not rely on favorites. Sometimes on the last blocks of a large quilt I have to use some pretty funky combinations – but I think it makes a more interesting quilt when there are some odd pairings.

As always, I am going to use a mix of my Kaffe and Co. fabrics and batiks and small all over prints – basically because those are the only fabrics that I own.

HEARTS AND FLOWERS APPLIQUÉ

The pattern is Hearts and Flowers designed by Kim McLean from Kaffe Fassett’s book “Quilt Romance.” It is 78” x 78” – so most of the appliqué pieces are large. There is a lot of machine piecing  – and not really that much appliqué – it should go together fairly quickly.

heart-and-scallops

Kim hearts-and-flowers

This is the picture from the book – as usual I am doing my own thing with the color.

UNION JACK

union jack blog

There are several Union Jack patterns online – but the design of the flag is usually not accurate. It is such an iconic image – it reads “Union Jack” with just some thick and thin Xs – any color and any shape.  My husband is English and it HAD to be accurate.

Each block measures 18” x 10”. I downloaded a flag and enlarged it in Photoshop and made my own paper piecing pattern for the 4 striped units. I’d forgotten how much I despise paper piecing. I tried it with templates but that didn’t go well – so back to the paper piecing.

I plan on three blocks across and five down. – ten more to go. All with different red, white and blue prints (already selected and cut in pieces ready to sew onto the papers.)

CLAMSHELL PICKLE

pickled-clam

This was a trial block to see if I liked it. I do – I love it! I’ve only made one block but all of the pattern pieces are cut out and ready to sew.

HEXAGON STAR

Hex Stars

I am trying an unusual setting of a hex within a hex. I won’t know if it works until I make a few more blocks.  It may be too busy – if it is I will just use the plain hexagon in the taupe fabric.

I do not have the fabric pulled for this project. I am saving that job for when the overwhelming urge to play with fabric suddenly comes upon me.

WINDING WAYS

winding-ways-1

I plan on 49 blocks – 7 across and 7 down. I have two options – I may use dark batiks and very light cream batiks (every block different of course.) Or maybe dark/medium combination as shown in the test block above. I have the fabric pulled for both options! But you knew that didn’t you :-)

Once I have pulled the color combinations for a project I am eager to get to the next quilt – just so I can play with color again. That’s probably why I have so many projects in the works.

#2 HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

That is a difficult question – I am not sure it does. I don’t want to claim anything I do as original. I usually follow commercially available patterns and I use “store bought” fabric.

My use of color is my “signature.” Living in the tropics is definitely an influence.

I love a challenge – inset seams and curved pattern pieces are a favorite. The Alabama Beauty at the top of the blog has 16 pieces in each block and all of them are curved! I love the difficult patterns  you rarely see at a quilt show or on Google images.

I also enjoy hand piecing. In today’s rush rush rush world of “Quilt in a Day” there is something to be said for relaxing with a hand pieced project.

#3 WHY DO I CREATE?

Art is my passion and my therapy – I have to do it!

me-at-easel3

As long as I can remember I have wanted to be an artist. This is my favorite photograph taken when I was about 3 years old – hard at work at an easel – my tongue sticking out – which is what I still do to this day when I am concentrating.

I studied art in England in the 60’s. I was a graphic designer and a digital printmaker for many years. Today I design and make jewelry and I quilt. I have been quilting for about thirteen years.

batik-squares2

This was my first quilt. I had no rotary cutter, no quilting rulers, and zero experience. I measured everything with my stainless steel type gauge (my favorite ruler from my graphic art days.) I marked the squares and the cutting lines with a pencil and cut with scissors. It is machine pieced.

The pattern is Nine-Patchez from the book Cut-Loose Quilts by Jan Mullen.

#4 HOW DOES MY CREATIVE PROCESS WORK?

How much time do you have? Never mind – I’ll stick to quilt making.

My stash is essentially Kaffe Fassett Collective prints, batiks, small all over prints, and “nearly solid” mottled fabrics. Except for backings, borders and bindings, I almost never buy more than a quarter yard. I love all the new pre cuts.

When choosing a pattern I always check to see how many fabrics I can use in each block. I am of “The More The Merrier” school when it comes to selecting fabric for a quilt.

besos-y-abrazos

x and + pattern. This quilt has 387 different fabrics. Quilted by Jan Burnham.

marens-quilt

Same pattern – another color way. Quilted by Jackie Kunkel.

I mainly make one block quilts so I want each block to be able to stand alone. During the process I often think – if I made the whole quilt using just this one block how would it look?

I can spend literally HOURS changing the fabrics in a single block (after having spent several days pulling fabric from my stash.)  My fabric choices may look random – but believe me the chaos is very very controlled I do NOT do random – EVER!

When designing the blocks I have a spare parts department for the bits that are rejected – I keep them because they may work in another block.

spare-parts

When the blocks are all finished I spend days – no – make that weeks – arranging and rearranging them on the design wall. Occasionally I have to eliminate blocks because they don’t play well with the others.

Borders are agony for me. I struggle with all of them – some more than others. Unless I choose to leave my quilt borderless it is a necessary evil I must deal with.

Choosing a border for this quilt was a long drawn out process – I made countless changes along the way – one of which was to make 44 more blue blocks for the new “inner border.”

between-sunrise-and-sunset

It is called “Beyond Sunrise and Sunset” and won a first prize ribbon at QuiltFest Jax in 2013 – quilted by Margaret Gunn. It was also featured in the November/December issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited Magazine in an article written by Margaret.

When designing the borders (and the blocks) as long as I keep thinking “something is wrong – it just doesn’t feel right yet” I will keep trying new ideas. I have to reach the “ah ha – that’s it” point before I will stop.

As you can see I finally decided on a piano keys border using all of the mustardy/ochre yellows in my stash. It doesn’t read as a specific print – it is the yellow I was looking for but with more depth and texture than a single print or solid.

Process is actually the reason I started blogging in 2008. I needed a way to record the making of the Angel quilt (an adaptation of a Mary Lou Weidman pattern.)​

carols-angel-quilt

In Panama we don’t need quilts to keep warm – I make them because I enjoy the process. When they are done I hang them on the wall –  throw them over a sofa or chair or give them away and move on to the next one.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”  Greg Anderson

I love this quote – in fact I named this quilt ​”​The Journey” after discovering this quotation.

batik hexagon1-2

1.5″ Hexagons. Quilted by Jackie Kunkel.

My goodness – I certainly did get carried away. If you have managed to reach this point – I thank you  for your patience :-)

 

 

Alabama Beauty blocks 19-36

blocks 19-36Done! Now to join them.

Union Jack Block #4 and #5

Flag block #5Flag block #4

 

 

 

Between Sunrise and Sunset

winner

This is not a very good picture – in spite of trying to correct it in Photoshop  – but it shows the blue ribbons and that’s all that matters. I bought a new camera a few days before I left and didn’t really practice very much – other than to figure out how to turn it on and off, zoom and scroll through the pictures. I must have done something terribly wrong because a brand new 14 megapixel camera cannot possibly take pictures that are unacceptable unless they have been Photoshopped!

Many people at the show asked about the two ribbons – the category was Large Pieced Duet which means that one person pieced the top and another person quilted it. My amazing quilter Margaret Solomon Gunn  brought this top to life with her stunning quilting – it was a team effort!

Entering my quilts in the Jax show gives me a deadline to work towards – a goal and a sense of purpose. I look forward to the once a year trip – being in the same room with lots of pretty quilts and mobs of other quilters is thrilling. I work in isolation here in Panama. We have no large active quilt guilds (just our little group of 3 or 4 people), no quilt shops, no quilt shows or quilt classes.

I spent a lot of time hanging around near my quilts – because I love talking to other quilters and it is just easier and more natural to strike up a conversation in front of my quilt instead of going up to somebody and saying please talk to me about quilts and quilting :-) I talk so much I am hoarse by the end of the day!

I have friends and family in Jax so it is always a fun-filled mini family reunion when relatives from other states fly down to join us. Looking forward to next year when I will be entering 4 quilts – all quilted by Margaret.

Margaret’s recent blog post titled Jax Quiltfest & other quilt show musings is very interesting – I will let you read it for yourself.

If you’d like to see the winners in all the categories the 2013 Show Winners Gallery is at SmugMug

I also entered my Besos Y Abrazos in the Intermediate Duet category – the Japanese x &+ done in 386 different Kaffe & Co. fabrics. It didn’t win anything. Which was surprising – because the show attendees LOVED it!

Besos Y Abrazos

It looks a bit tired and floppy – it’s been to Germany and back – to the quilt show that never was. God only knows what happened to it while it was there for several months! I made it for an Homage to Kaffe Challenge in Merzig Germany in the Spring – months passed and the show that was supposed to be judged by Kaffe himself never happened. I was lucky to get it back in time for the Jax show.

I am glad to have both well-travelled quilts safely back home. Speaking of well-travelled –  I must share the saga of the Between Sunrise And Sunset quilt with you. This quilt has quite a back story.

Some background:

I send all of my quilts to the US for quilting, then the quilter sends them back to Panama and I block and bind them and return them to Jacksonville to my friend Carol to wait for Quiltfest.

This quilt had a special detour to Massachusetts where it was  professionally photographed by Jeffrey Lomicka for an article Margaret has written in the November/December 2013 issue of the Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine.

After blocking and binding I sent it via DHL to Jeffrey for the photo shoot – then he was going to mail it to Carol in Jacksonville.

But… when Jeffrey was setting up the photo shoot he noticed a slit/rip/hole on the back of the quilt and he emailed me to ask  “if this was a known issue.”

No – it definitely was NOT!

This is from a letter I sent Jeffrey and Margaret:

This is what I know for sure:

Preparing the quilt for shipment I cleaned every single thread and piece of fluff off both sides with the tape lint roller. While doing that I was able to inspect every square inch of the quilt – front and back. There was no hole in the quilt. I would have noticed.

I folded it in half with the backing side out. Then I folded it in half again and in half  once more. Then I folded that in thirds to make a nice compact bundle. I placed it in the bag I had made especially for it and I fastened the top with a piece of white elastic. Then I placed it in a clear plastic garbage bag in case it got wet en route.

My husband David took the package to the DHL office. He did not just drop it off, fill out the forms, pay and leave – he wanted to see how they were going to prepare it for shipment. When he saw that they were wrapping yellow tape around the package and were preparing to stuff it into an envelope he said STOP –  that was unacceptable – he even told them that my wife will kill me if this doesn’t arrive safely. So he left – taking the quilt with him –  went to our warehouse and got a sturdy box. Came back to DHL with the quilt in the box which he taped closed himself. Only then did he leave.

This is what I think happened:

Look at the tracking info below. On July 11 at 2:25 am it was processed for clearance at Cincinnati, Ohio – then there is a clearance delay of almost two hours. Clearance is customs. I know only too well that anything or anybody coming from Panama is always given extra special attention from US customs. Panama is a well-known route for drugs from Colombia (our neighbor) to the US.

So…. I imagine the conversation among the US customs officers in Cincinnati went something like this:

“Here’s a box from Panama – what’s in it?  A bedspread. Hey – look at this Joe – somebody paid $235 to ship a stupid bedspread to Chelmsford MA! Don’t they sell bedspreads in MA? This is weird – something’s up here – let’s have a look. Yeah it’s a bedspread alright but what’s inside? Let’s take a look.”

Either they made that hole on purpose or they damaged it accidentally as they were inspecting it. I can just imagine it being handled, poked, prodded, sniffed by people with dirty hands. Draped on a dirty table in a warehouse – maybe even dragged on the floor.

Have you seen the reality TV show “To Catch a Smuggler” on the National Geographic channel. It is about customs at JFK.  Believe me they don’t treat your stuff that they suspect may be hiding drugs with respect. A well know way for small time smugglers is to soak clothes in liquid cocaine. Just google soaking clothes in cocaine.

That is the only scenario that makes any sense. It was never opened until it went through customs in Ohio.

If that is indeed what happened at least I am thankful that they went through the backing and not a more visible spot on the front. And that they didn’t cut through any quilting stitches.

I am eagerly awaiting your opinions on what to do about the hole.”

After the photo shoot Jeffery sent it to Margaret in Maine and she got a piece of the backing fabric from Jackie Kunkel at Canton Village Quiltworks – thanks again Jackie.  Margaret patched the hole and sent it on to Carol in Jacksonville. The next time I saw it was at the show sporting it’s two blue ribbons. I wasn’t able to see the patch until I got the quilt back to the hotel room on the last day of the show. Margaret did a great job – you wouldn’t be able to see it unless you knew where to look.

Just wanted to let you know my blogging will be slowing down as I try to finish the Alabama Beauty to get it to Margaret ASAP. I must have it back in time for Quiltfest 2014!

Please stay tuned…

Halfway there

Three rows joined. Click on the picture for a closeup view.Image

Life in the tropics

My daughter just sent me this picture she took on her phone. This little thief just stole a tomato off the kitchen table.  He climbed up the red palms outside the window. Our house is a duplex so my kitchen window is just a few feet away – but fortunately it was closed. It’s a good thing too – because I have a bunch of bananas on the kitchen counter and several avocados ripening in a bowl. He would have had a feast.

Minutes after receiving this picture I went downstairs to the laundry room – which is under the house – not closed in – and found a disaster. The dog’s food was all over the place, the empty bowl thrown across the room, bags of detergent were opened, stuff was knocked off the shelves. A plastic bag containing lots of small items was ripped open and the contents strewn around. He must have been looking for more food – that tomato he’d just eaten just whetted his appetite for more.

This is a capuchin monkey. We have lots of them in the neighborhood – but as the incessant building continues to pave over the green areas – some of it jungle – the wildlife is getting squeezed out of their natural habitat. Not long ago my husband saw a dead monkey in the street just a block from our house – he’d been run over by a car and another monkey was beside him trying to help him get up. So sad.

Cats

Quincy – our 14 year old in her favorite spot at the dining room table.

Lucy our 15 month old on the coffee table in front of the sliding glass doors to the balcony – one of her favorite spots in the house.