Hello all, Mary Ellen here.
It is a beautiful morning here in the neighborhood-truly, not tongue in cheek this time. The canine and I had a great walk in the sunshine, and by the end I had taken off my gloves and hat. (whisper-I think spring is in the air) When we returned home, I took a circle around the garden in the spots that aren’t too squishy wet to see what’s up. It’s time to do some clean up of the parts I can reach from the paths–too early to walk on the beds. Don’t get overly anxious you gardeners out there. It’s not good to pack down the dirt walking on it too soon. Lots of leaves are in the beds from our Snyder trees-no matter how late the last fall raking occurs, more leaves come down after. The daffodils are looking great, the hellebores too. Starting to see bits of green on many of the perennials. Got to thinking of my nana and thought I should bring some forsythia inside to force. She always had branches of things in jars on her windowsills in early spring. She would force them into bloom, and then usually get them to root. They would be returned to the garden to expand the stock! I always think of her when I spot the first shrubs blooming. She had a flowering quince bush the size of a Volkswagen bug that was gorgeous every year. Haven’t seen one like it since.
I ordered some new quilt books for myself and they all arrived this week. Our blog discussions of modern quilting were the inspiration for these titles: 15 minutes of Play by Victoria Wolfe Findlay, Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston, Modern Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman, and not so modern Happy Trails:variations on the Classic Drunkard’s Path by Pepper Cory. I think my favorite is Victoria’s book. Her outlook on the process and her love of scraps are transmitted so clearly. She shares her love for her grandmother’s scrappy crazy style quilts that inspires her own style today. I’d love for us to have Victoria at a seminar in the future. I think both traditional and “modern” quilters would enjoy her. Great book for the guild library. I don’t own Gwen’s first Liberated book but I have seen many quilts in its style. Very fun way to work. Jackie G’s seminar class this year is a child of Gwen’s technique. Both of these authors have a tempered disregard for rules that the Quilt Police might want to enforce about the use of color and color placement, precision of points, placement of grain. And that disregard makes for some great quilts. Both authors intersperse reflections on their point of view and creative process throughout the pattern directions.
Surprisingly the 12 patterns in Elizabeth’s book are noticeably more structured than Victoria and Gwen’s. The piecing is more complex (lots of pieces requiring precision matching, and quite a bit of curved piecing) than her first book introduced. But that is what she was aiming for–the subtitle of her book is “12 quilts to take you beyond the basics”. I feel the first book (which I also own) was for the young woman, just joining the ranks of quilters, who wanted to make pretty things from fresh fabrics in a somewhat “Pottery Barn” style. Now she has some basic skills and can “take it up a notch”. Elizabeth does have more construction knowledge than some of the other modern style designers whose patterns I’ve read. I don’t always agree with the methods she chooses, but then I seldom follow a pattern the way its written. I notice that some of the newer pattern designers do things in “old school” ways; perhaps after they’ve been at it as long as some of us have, they’ll come to the streamlined methods we have developed over many years of quilting. (That really sounds snooty, doesn’t it?) I do really like Elizabeth’s style and will make a couple of these quilts. The patterns she includes for the pieced backs are as nice as the fronts! They can be quilts on their own, but what fun surprises to turn over your quilt and find some piecing similar to the front. Also great for those times when you have muddy paw prints on the front of the couch quilt and want to give the quilt an Irish wash because company’s coming. (Ask me about my mom’s explanation of that expression.)
Pepper Cory’s book is a reprint of an oldie but goodie. The original copyright date is 1991! I’m getting into the Drunkard’s Path block these days. I have recently come upon a circle ruler from Creative Grids that makes cutting very accurate circles a breeze. The secret to painless(relatively speaking) curved piecing, in my humble opinion, is correct cutting and accurate seaming. Once you’ve got those under control, blocks like the one which is the basis of the Drunkard’s Path are easy to sew. And you have so many layout options, for quilts which look much more complex than they really are, that you can have fun for days coming up with your own designs. These new rulers and gadgets that come out so frequently these days are helping to make blocks, that used to require templates and hand piecing, achievable on the machine.
Have you purchased any new books or patterns lately that you can tell us about? With the price of them so high these days, we should share our opinions. If you’re willing to share some reviews, I’ll archive them here for others to check out before purchasing. I’m off to work on a quilt from a Pam and Nicky Lintott jelly roll book–a mom and daughter team who’ve written several very good books on using precuts. Pretty quilts, well written patterns that you can count on to have no mistakes, which is a rarity!