Friday, April 29, 2011

Pattern Success!

Well, the zinnia pattern seems to be a big hit. Just taught a 2 day class up in Pine Grove, CA, beautiful country just 45 minutes from my house.  It  reminds me a lot of Ireland without all the castles.  Anyways, there were 15 students in this class and they all brought their own color choices and all the flowers were beautiful.  This is not the easiest pattern in my collection as it has many layers but turns out wonderful.   I love watching them grow and bloom in class.  I will be teaching this again in Sisters in July and at Thimble Creek in August.  Check my calendar for more info.

You prepare 3 different color charts for each flower.  The best way to do that is to make black and white copies of the original color chart that comes with all my patterns.  With a black and white copy you just see the values of the colors and how they relate to each other and it makes it much easier to change your color palate.  Easy probably isn't the right word.  You are taking the pattern pieces for color A and pinning it to all 3 layers of  the  A fabrics on the color chart and cutting them out all at once.  

Then you would lay the cut fabrics down on the background for all 3 flowers, then do the same for the next color in the color chart, and so on.   I think there are 21 different fabrics in the pattern.  Beside sore thumbs I think I heard a little whimpering on the 3rd day.  They worked hard and persevered. I was so proud.

But last week at the Empty Spools Seminars in Pacific Grove, I had 2 very brave students who wanted to do a 3 zinnia quilt inspired by one of my quilts.  It's  a sample to show the variety of colors you could make the flower in.  I never thought that someone would want to take on the challenge of doing 3 different colors at the same time.  I thought I was the only one crazy enough to try to cut out all 3 color ways at the same time.  But, no!!!!  These girl where determined. 

That is just it.  You have to persevere through the hard parts to reap the rewards and everyone’s level of perseverance is different.  Each student comes to my classes at a different level, battling different fears and challenges.  That is what is so exciting.  But, of course, there is the naysayer  observing this from afar.


I had a student tell me one day at lunch that someone expressed to her, “I don’t know how you can even work from someone else's pattern.”   What!  If I had heard that statement or knew who that was,  I would  slap them.   We are all different.   People think they are diverse and open minded but they are not.  Let's check ourselves before we make stupid statements.  I know a group of girls that believe very strongly in diversity as long as it lines up with their beliefs and it also trickles into the quilting community.  Have you met that person who thinks it not legitimate quilting if it’s not done a certain way?  That’s not being open minded, diverse, or even polite.  

So, we in the quilting world need to cut each other some slack and, if you come to one of my classes, please know that I will help you, whatever level you are at.  At least I will try my very best.  Remember, its only fabric and we can get more.  Unless, of course, you are in Ierland and then you had better conserve.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hidden Treasures

I love junk shops, antique stores, and garage sales.  Things that one person may call junk are someone else's gold.   There is a funky little antique/junk shop up the mountain about 10 minutes away that I love. The problem is she is never open. I have tried weekends, then she is on vacation.  I tried Wednesday or Thursday.  No luck.  It makes my heart start to beat fast just thinking of it.  Mind you, the shop does not have priceless heirlooms. That's not really my style.  But it is full of mismatches, chipped and used, odds and ends.  Her backyard is full of great rusty tools, patio stuff, buckets and just all-around crap.  I see them as garden art.  Joe shakes his head whenever I come home with some of my artist finds.  To me this shop is full of treasures and  when it is open it’s paradise for a junker like me.  

This Chinese restaurant was across the street from our hotel in Galway.
This one is for you, Tim. He is drinking Smithwick's.
Last night I watched an episode of Hoarders Nice segue, don’t you think?  Matt came home 4 weeks ago with his girlfriend and  took one look at the garage and said, ”Mom, are you a hoarder?”  His father shot me a glance then respond to his son “All that crap is yours!”  So I had to watch an episode just to make sure I was OK.
Park House Hotel, we circled it 8 times until we found where parking was.
I must say as I am still unpacking from our wonderful Ireland adventure and I found my bag of Irish treasure.  The second night after the Quilt Festival we drove to Galway on the west side of the country.  It’s a cool college town and you can feel the hip nature in the air. The hotel was to die for. 

First of all, we had our own beds. Always a plus. Don't get me wrong, I am passionate for my hot husband but my own bed and a pair of ear plugs and I am in heaven and so is Joe. The Park House Hotel was very elegant and reasonably priced. The next day we took a ferry ride over the Shannon River to our next stop, Dingle.  How can you not have a good time in a place called Dingle?   
Ferry Ride
Just like the roads in Ireland, the ferry was a little narrow, too.  Joe had to drive us up and onto the ferry next to a big gas tanker truck.  He got so close to the left side, not wanting to hit the truck that I couldn't get out of the car on my side. Do you think he did that on purpose
Just a few miles (30) from the ferry, in the tiny town of Kenvarra, we saw our first castle.  I yelled for Joe to pull the car over.  I think he thought I was yelling about his driving again.  He found a place to pull over which wasn't much but our sweet and sporty Ford Mondeo fit it nicely. We bundled up and walked around our first castle, Dunguaire Castle, circa 1520.  It was breathtaking.   

My first castle.
The best part about our first castle is that nobody was there but us and a Japanese couple that seemed to be taking the same tourist route as us that day as we saw them at several other sites, too.. There was moss  growing on the side of the 4 story stone walls.  It was so soft and green. I pulled a little off and put it in my pocket.  As we walked back to the car we closed the rusty iron gate and a chip of rusty paint fell off the gate.  I picked it up and put that in my pocket, too.  I asked Joe if I would have trouble getting through TSA with my rust and moss.  He rolled his eyes and said he thought I would be OK.  Ah, treasures!
I love rust.
Last night I looked all over the house for them, thinking that I had lost my treasures. But I found them this morning in the bag with  my other priceless finds. Yes, I bought a shirt and a beautiful handwoven scarf and some pretty earrings. 
Irish gold!
But the sea glass, broken pottery, shells, rust and moss mean more to me than gold.  Because they are Irish
moss and rust.

The good news is that I am not a hoarder.  I can proudly stand by that.  But a little weird ?  Absolutely.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The 40 Greens of Ireland

Color has always been my thing. Whether I am making it, playing with it or manipulating it for a painting or quilt, I seem to have been born with the color eye and an overwhelming need to be surrounded by it.  

I have noticed as I travel that there is a color palette to every place I go.  In Hawaii it is the blues.  Arizona is pastels.  At Lake Tahoe it’s the turquoises and in Ireland, it is the greens.  They say there are over 40 different greens in Ireland but I think they are wrong - it’s more like 80 plus. I sat in the car counting them, while Joe was avoiding traffic cones and tourist buses on the small and winding Irish roads.  
Narrow road plus you are driving on the left side.

That was keeping my mind off the fact that I might not make it to our next Irish vista.  Joe was either going to kill me and leave me in a Irish bog somewhere never to be found again or we were going to drive head-on into a large tour bus called the PaddyWagon.  Anyways, there are more than 40 greens, I am sure.  

So you see that the reason I haven’t written you sooner is because I was invited to teach at the Quilt Guild of Ireland for their Festival this year in Dublin.  Yes, it was a dream come true to be in Ireland and with some very talentened quilters.  This guild incorporates all of Ireland, both north and south.  How spoiled we are in the states to have quilt guilds in almost every town.  In California, sometimes we have more than one per town. But in Ireland they have just one or 2 groups.  The quilters drove great distances to get to this festival.   OK, in California that is no big deal to drive 4 hours to search for fabrics.  We just call that a "Shop Hop".

They also have a loving respect for their fabrics. Fabric is hard to come by and they don’t waste a bit of it.  I learned that in class one day when I mistakenly told my students that this was a practice piece and you can throw it away when you get home. The whole class yelled out “Oh no!!!!! We can't through it away. We will make something out of it.”  

That’s when I knew I was so spoiled.  Batiks can cost at least 15 euros per meter, which is about $22 a yard American.  So I have a new respect for my fabric collection and went up to my studio and patted them all and said thank you to the big guy (and I didn’t mean Joe!) when I got home.  

So thank you Quilter Guild of Ireland for the wonderful time Joe and I had.  You are warm, gracious and talented.  And you have way more than 40 greens.

More of our Irish adventure to come but I am sleep deprived right now.