Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hibiscus Class in Winters

I love teaching the Hibiscus pattern. Maybe because this flower makes me remember Hawaii but I think it's    because they always turn out so beautiful in any colorway.  I get so thrilled as the class progresses and I start to see the flowers bloom.  My students think I am crazy because I start to giggle about 1/2 way through the first day.  They can't see it yet but I know what is about to happen. So thrilling. 

 These flowers are from a 2 day class I taught a few weeks ago in Winters, California at the Cloth Carousel. 

The flowers are all at different stages, but you can see how the dark fabrics in the center pieces add such depth and perspective to all the flowers.  It's all in the values of your fabrics.  Light colors come toward you and the dark colors recede. 

You can really see that in these flowers.

This yellow flower had a pink center with red vines and then flowed out into pale yellow as you went to the edges of the petals.  This student's color palate was inspired by a photo. 

The best part of this class was that the students where not afraid to change the color and make the hibiscus their own. We had 10 different colorways and 10 different flowers.   If we had 1 more day, I think we could have started the quilting. 

But have no fear, I am going to teach a Renegade Thread Play class there, sometime in September.  Check with Cloth Carousel and Stitchzz, 9 Main Street, Winters, Ca 95694 (530) 795-2580, for times and dates.  That way, if you have made one of my flowers in the past, or just want to learn a new thread play technique, this is the class for you.   

There are some tricks to sewing  through the fusible web but once you learn them you will find that this is easier than traditional quilting.   It also makes you a better traditional quilter.  That is, if you ever want to go back to that again.  

Just make sure that before you get to any free motion class, you know how to work your sewing machine.  That means you have used it before and know where all the buttons and controls are on it.   I will also be teaching another flower class. This time the California Lupine or, if you are from Texas,  the Bluebonnet

If you can’t make it to Winters, try a week at the beach over Easter at Empty Spools Seminars.  I still have a few openings. It may be a while before I get back to Empty Spools so don’t miss out.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

American Quilter Magazine March 2012

One spring day about 12 years ago, my mother was visiting me up here in Northern California.  I had recently moved to El Dorado Hills which is located at the base of the Sierra Nevada range and is full of gold rush history which is literally right out my front door.   I was still trying to make this new place my home so I would frequently take little day trips to find hidden jewels along the country roads. This became my way to acclimate to the area.  

On this trip I had my mother along and took the back roads up to Placerville, which was  know as Hang Town back in the day because it was a hanging town, if you know what I mean! They didn’t have any lawmen back then so the citizens took it upon themselves to hang the bag guys from the trees.  Really! Not only does the town today have an old miner (a likeness - not THE miner) hanging from above the historic tavern, they also have some great antique shops and Mom and I wanted to visit them.

We were 3 miles up the aptly named Green Valley Road,  when we both spotted a field in the distance full of brilliant color. What was that?  When we got to it, we saw an old, carved sign that read Iris Farm. We both giggled. I turned the car and drove through the open gate, past the cows and up to the most beautiful sight we have ever seen. 

All of my senses were on high alert. The smells in the air were rich wet dirt, sweet blossoms and maybe just a hint of cow.   The ground was wet and our shoes got a little muddy but we didn't care. There where rows and rows of blooming irises in every color.  Blue, purple, reds, pinks, peaches and, of course, yellow. There was a teenage girl with a bucket walking down every row of flowers picking off the dead buds so that  more could bloom.  That is a job I would have loved  as a kid.

Is this what Van Gogh and Monet saw and painted?  I was so moved by the view and filled with emotion.  I just wanted to cry. 

So, I have had a love affair with irises for a long time. My mother bought these yellow irises that day from that garden and they now grow in my mother’s garden along with others she purchased that day.  When spring arrives these yellow ladies dance in her yard and now, also, on my quilt.  I have written an article about making this quilt in the March/April 2012 issue of American Quilter magazine.

This flower will soon be a pattern that I will be debuting at my Empty Spools Seminars retreat Easter week in Pacific Grove. Come spend Easter making beautiful flowers - just like Monet and Van Gogh.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Quilting in the Wine Country

The blessing of a sewing group. Where do I start?  I was just teaching at a wonderful venue in Ukiah, California.  I experienced an amazing group of woman that I will never forget. What made this group so exceptional was their truly loving support of each other. 
The minute we arrived (that would be me and the class cupcake, Peggy) there was a wonderful feeling that you could sense immediately. At first, I thought it was because of the breathtaking views of the rolling hills with rambling areas of wine grapes.  As we drove up the gravel path to the vineyard we passed horses on the hill and a little pond. We where awestruck by the view. This is where I was invited to teach for the next 5 days.  Did I die and go to heaven?

 Peggy and I soon knew it was not just the atmosphere that made this place special, but the woman we were about to meet.
Helen's home that belongs in House Beautiful.
View from our cottage.

Our hostess was Helen, the owner of this beautiful vineyard. She calls herself  just a farmer, but she is way more than that.  She set the mood by opening her beautiful home and studio up to this group of creative stitchers. 
Helen's stash that she shares with all.
This group meets one Sunday a month to share and stitch and once in a while they bring in a teacher that they all want to take classes from for 5 days.  There where 14 creative women of all skill levels. Each one of these women brought something wonderful to the table to make this group special.  They where kind, thoughtful, helpful, and sharing with one another.  When someone left the room nobody talked about the member who just left unless it was with love and caring words.  That is very rare in today’s world.   I have been in a few sewing groups and none of them were even close to the support and kindness of this group. 

Peggy and I asked her how this mix of personalities found each other.  She said that her friend, Dee, and her put a lot of thought into the people they wanted to invite to join their group. Bingo!  They also had been in a lot of small groups that started out great but soon morphed into an event that was no longer fun to be a part of.  When they would ask someone into the group they would ask that person if they had any problems with the other girls.  
Gate to the pool (forgot to bring my suit).

I always talk about how short life is and how precious time together is and if you are in a group that is not sweet and  encouraging, get out!  There are lots and lots of wonderful women out there. Remember, quilting is supposed to be fun.
Cottage on this side, studio on the other side.

Janice's Geranium.

Beth's Hibiscus.

Dee working from her own picture. She is almost there.

Angie's  pears.

Helen working hard.

Janice posing with her quilt.  Ta-da! 


Helen's finished quilt.  Time now for the thread work.
Class "cupcake" Peggy and Helen cutting out little pieces.
Kay's flowers. 
Olive oil garden - where did you think it came from?

Shirley's work.
Najellcka's rose.  Say that 5 times fast or even 1 time SLOWLY.
Kim's rose.

Linda and Kim's finished flower.
Helen #2 working on her Apple Bowl.

Bobbie gave her pink flowers to Kay because
she didn't want to stitch on them which is great because Kay is making pillows with them.
Betty  made 2 Sunflowers.
What are you doing this year for Easter?  Why don't you join me at Empty Spools Seminars  in beautiful Pacific Grove, California from April 8-13.  We will be making some beautiful flowers and playing with threads.  You can either use one of my patterns or work from your own flower photo. I will bring the chocolate, you bring the bunny!