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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

English China

Need a hand quilting project? Try English paper piecing. My first attempt at the technique was on a very long flight to China, hence the quilt's name, English China.

If you keep old issues of American Quilter, check for my "Portable Pastime" article, May 2009. It gives the pattern and some tips on an updated version of English paper piecing using free downloadable hexagon templates from Incompetech to print on freezer paper.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yellow Stuff

This is my favorite teapot. Could it be because it's yellow? I inherited it from my mother-in-law.

Loving all things tea and being primarily of Danish descent, I was tickled to find this story by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, published in 1863:

There was a proud Teapot, proud of being made of porcelain, proud of its long spout and its broad handle. It had something in front of it and behind it; the spout was in front, and the handle behind, and that was what it talked about. But it didn't mention its lid, for it was cracked and it was riveted and full of defects, and we don't talk about our defects - other people do that. The cups, the cream pitcher, the sugar bowl - in fact, the whole tea service - thought much more about the defects in the lid and talked more about it than about the sound handle and the distinguished spout. The Teapot knew this.

"I know them," it told itself. "And I also know my imperfections, and I realize that in that very knowledge is my humility and my modesty. We all have many defects, but then we also have virtues. The cups have a handle, the sugar bowl has a lid, but of course I have both, and one thing more, one thing they can never have; I have a spout, and that makes me the queen of the tea table. The sugar bowl and the cream pitcher are permitted to be serving maids of delicacies, but I am the one who gives forth, the adviser. I spread blessings abroad among thirsty mankind. Inside of me the Chinese leaves give flavor to boiling, tasteless water."

This was the way the Teapot talked in its fresh young life. It stood on the table that was prepared for tea and it was lifted up by the most delicate hand. But that most delicate hand was very awkward. The Teapot was dropped; the spout broke off, and the handle broke off; the lid is not worth talking about; enough has been said about that. The Teapot lay in a faint on the floor, while the boiling water ran out of it. It was a great shock it got, but the worst thing of all was that the others laughed at it - and not at the awkward hand.

"I'll never be able to forget that!" said the Teapot, when later on it talked to itself about its past life. "They called me an invalid, and stood me in a corner, and the next day gave me to a woman who was begging for food. I fell into poverty, and was speechless both outside and inside, but as I stood there my better life began. One is one thing and then becomes quite another. They put earth in me, and for a Teapot that's the same as being buried, but in that earth they planted a flower bulb. Who put it there and gave it to me, I don't know; but it was planted there, a substitution for the Chinese leaves and the boiling water, the broken handle and spout. And the bulb lay in the earth, inside of me, and it became my heart, my living heart, a thing I never had before. There was life in me; there were power and might; my pulse beat. The bulb put out sprouts; thoughts and feeling sprang up and burst forth into flower. I saw it, I bore it, and I forgot myself in its beauty. It is a blessing to forget oneself in others!

"It didn't thank me, it didn't even think of me - everybody admired it and praised it. It made me very happy; how much more happy it must have made it!

"One day I heard them say it deserved a better pot. They broke me in two - that really hurt - and the flower was put into a better pot; then they threw me out into the yard, where I lie as an old potsherd. But I have my memory; that I can never lose!"

The End

Yellow Stuff

This apple birdhouse is located at
Kuiper's Family Farm in Maple Park, IL.

Besides pick-your-own apples, they sell the best apple cider doughnuts. And other yummies like golden honey.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good Morning

Welcome Spring!

I named this quilt Good Morning as it shows the sun rising on our wonderful world. Spring is my favorite time of year when creation wakes up in all its glory. Living in the midwest we have had enough of cold, dreary days and fighting snow. Today it's been raining off and on most of the day, feeding my newly sprouting flowers. With crocuses in bloom and daffodils inching up, it won't be long before the redbud tree pops out in purple.

Sometimes you can use traditional quilt patterns to form other objects. Note how the 1000 pyramids pattern creates trees and the waves pattern makes the sea.

And here's something you might want to watch. The Quilt Show is celebrating National Quilting Day with two free episodes (available free through March 21):
Episode 202 Cindy Needham (there's a short segment with me toward the end)
Episode 802 Edyta Sitar

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yellow Stuff

Welcome, first flowers of spring.

Nothing quilty to report but couldn't pass up the chance to spread a little cheer in the form of crocuses in purple and, of course, yellow.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Moral Compass

The central compass represents love, a moral compass for life. Eight smaller compasses depict other virtues such as joy, peace and patience.

This quilt dates from 2000. Having hung in an office with fluorescent lighting for many of those years, one particular fabric faded quite a bit. It's the burgundy fabric at the very top left of this detail shot.

Fabric pen to the rescue! FabricMate had a chisel tip pen in just the right crimson color to refresh the fabric. I was able to re-color all the pieces made of that fabric, being extra careful along the edge of each piece so I wouldn't slop over onto the adjoining piece. The quilt is (almost) as good as new.