What’s new . . .

The world in which we are living is stranger than usual. I’ve spent so much time since late last February thinking about the strangeness of it all, and also wondering how much of that strangeness is going to be a lasting part of our new normalcy when we finally go back there. Probably, the word ‘normal’ itself will need a new definition after what we’ve experienced during the year of 2020. Oh, insert a long, loud sigh here.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to distract myself from some of that thinking and wondering  by focusing on the book I’m currently writing, to be published next year by C&T Publishing. Working on the book has been helping to keep me grounded. The reality is that there isn’t a whole lot I am at liberty to say about my book, but I can share something about the process of bringing it to life, and where I am in that process at the moment. The manuscript is currently in the hands of my technical editor. She has already given it a thorough review to check all the numbers — the yardages, cutting directions, and project instructions. Right now, she’s coordinating with the photographer on the how-to photos, reviewing the subject (quilt) photos and overseeing the detail shots. Then, she’ll be working with the illustrator, insuring that my illustrations look good and make sense.  I’m champing at the bit to announce more juicy details, but as of this moment — I can’t. They are top secret.  In a few weeks, the book will be moving along to the design stage, which I’m super excited about! It will be a chance for me to have a hand in the visual look of the pages, the colors, and the general feel of the presentation. Getting to this stage of producing the book is very exciting! At this point it will begin to look like a real book!

While the technical editor is hard at work, for me the last month or so has been a quiet time, and a chance to catch my breath after the all-in effort that I put into the actual writing. Writing about my process was a new experience for me, and an educational one. Learning about the format that was required by C&T was interesting. It felt like a bit of a juggling act to fit my words into the format required while still maintaining my own creative voice. With the help of my terrific development editor, Beth Baumgartel, I feel confident that my own style and voice will come through. She was such a great person to work with, so encouraging and so easy to communicate with. I feel lucky to have been partnered with her for that part of the journey.

In other news, I’ve been thrilled to be able to teach several in-person classes at a local quilt shop, Second Spring Quilt Shop, which was recently opened by my friend Yvette Acevedo. The shop is  located in Greenport, New York, on the north fork of Long Island. It’s a warm and welcoming place, filled with beautiful, quality fabrics, patterns, and lots of interesting notions, plus everything else you’ll need to create your quilts. If you are lucky enough to live on Long Island, go visit the shop in person. You’ll be glad you did! Check out her website, where you can shop in the online store. If you’re interested in taking a class with me at the shop, you can sign up right on the website. I’m very much enjoying teaching there. It’s so great to be able to have in-person interactions with other quilters (while wearing masks and social distancing). The classroom is spacious and filled with light. Yvette’ shop has provided a great resource for quilters that’s comfortable and well equipped.

I hope all is well with you, my quilting friends. Be safe, stay healthy, wear your masks and practice social distancing. We will all be together again, enjoying quilting together, attending quilt shows and even hugging! I’ll see you then!




Interesting times

There is an old curse that I’ve been thinking about lately. It goes like this: “May you live in interesting times.” This current situation in which we find ourselves certainly qualifies as an interesting time. My husband and I have been on lockdown here in our cozy condo on the North Fork of Long Island since the end of the final week of February, which makes it now a full two months that we have been hunkering down due to COVID-19. It’s been . . . well . . . interesting.

We took a little mini-vacation in Florida back in February, which didn’t really go so well. Instead of the nice, relaxing vacation we had planned, we discovered that the location we’d chosen was not the best. Instead of the lovely resort we expected at a well-known, high-end hotel brand, we found a rather run-down, pathetic and slightly dirty-around-the-edges place that had obviously seen better times (like the ones that had been glowingly portrayed on their website). We tried to make the best of it, but when my poor husband spent the next-to-last day of our getaway suffering from a horrible case of food poisoning, any pretense of a pleasant vacation flew right out the window. It was a relief to return to our nice clean home. And poor Fred doesn’t want to even think about Chinese food for a very, very long time.

We’d heard about how the virus had affected China before we left on our ‘vacation’, and while we were in Florida we listened to the news about how my beloved Italy was being devastated by the deadly scourge. And then, it showed up here at home, with a major outbreak just one town away, in Southold. We’ve been lucky. We’ve stayed healthy, and the infection rate in our own hamlet of Aquebogue has been very low, although all around us the virus has been affecting families, some of whom we know. Luckily, those close to us, our dear friends and family, have been unaffected as of yet.

I was able to join my my quilting group, the North Fork Quilters, for one last meeting after returning from Florida, just before the virus hit. We were already cognizant of the threat. Chairs at our long table were placed further apart than normal, and there were no hugs exchanged, even when I shared with them my very, very good news that my book proposal to C&T Publishing had been accepted. It was wonderful to receive their congratulations and encouragement, but I really did miss those hugs I knew I’d have received under more normal circumstances. 

So, a few days later, when the lockdown was announced, my good friends the North Fork Quilters began to produce face masks by the dozens (and in some cases, by the hundreds!) while I contributed a few dozen for first responders, my family, friends and neighbors and and then concentrated my efforts on producing content for my book.

And I’ve been at it since. Part of me is glad to have the distraction of a job to do, since my face-to-face quilt instruction business as The Quilt Whisper has come to a standstill. I’ve been busy making projects and writing for the book, but another part of me is feeling slightly guilty for not producing face masks to aid the front line workers and those who now have the need to follow the New York State guidelines for wearing a mask when out in public. Even more guilt-inducing, I’ve been jealous of those quilters who have lots of time to finish up their longstanding ufo’s and just fiddle around in their sewing rooms, having fun exploring U-tube and Pinterest and Facebook and other fun parts of the internet (although I have made time to watch the adorable Pluto from Canada-land every time his two-legged mom posts a new video — little Pluto with her squeaky voice and great advice is just too cute to miss!).

I can’t reveal the topic of my book, to be released in the early fall of 2021, except to say that it’s about a technique very close to my heart, one I’m passionate about. Those of you who know me and my passion for this particular technique will probably be able to guess what it is, but for the general public, the topic must remain a secret. It will contain a gallery of my own art quilts, a second gallery of quilts and projects produced by some of my students who learned the technique in my classes, it will be scattered with stories I learned in a place I cannot mention and it will contain some brand-new projects that introduce the technique with step-by-step instructions. Is that mysterious enough?

I can say that I am thrilled beyond words to be writing a book to share with quilters around the world. It’s been a long held dream for me. I’m honored to have it published by such a renowned and respected company like C&T.

To my friends, colleagues and customers, I wish you all good health and the patience you need to get you through this challenging and interesting time. I miss you all and can’t wait until we are able to hug each other again!

A visit to TWO Quilt Shows in just two weeks!

A visit to a quilt show is always more fun with friends, and two shows on two consecutive weekends makes for even more fun!

The first show, AQS Quilt Week in Lancaster, PA, was a two-day bus trip (March 29-30, 2019) that included an overnight stay and plenty of fabric shopping, too. Lancaster is a quilter’s mecca, with beautiful scenery, delicious food, and the presence of quaint buggies, bike-scooters, and other wonderful Amish things like shoo-fly pies. This year’s quilt show did not disappoint. I took very few photos at the show mostly because I was busy chatting with friends, but those that I did take were of quilts that grabbed my heart. I’ll show just a few of them to you here, complete with titles and attributes to the talented quilters who were generous enough to share them with the public.

The quilt above, ABC Frippery, was selected Best of Show. I was stopped in my tracks by its astonishing detail and workmanship. The maker is Janet Stone of Overland Park, KS. Janet is a previous winner of the AQS Best of Show award, and is known from her many fabulous alphabet quilts, as well as for including a sheep in every one of her quilts. This one was no exception. It took a while, but I finally located the sheep. It’s in a tiny gold locket hanging just under the “M”. Janet quilted this beauty on her stationary machine. It includes machine appliqué, beading, bias work, couching, crystals, embellishments, free motion quilting, and machine piecing. Wow.

The quilt above took my breath away. It was part of a special exhibit, “The 14th Quilt Nihon Exhibition” according to the show catalog, Quilt Nihon is one of the most prestigious international quilt contests in Japan. Tomoko Sagami’s “At the Secret Territory (Shimeno)” is hand-quilted from kimono fabrics given to her by her mother, mother-in-law and friends. Tomoko wrote that “the theme of the quilt is the carefree character of the Manyo people and their intimate love scenes. I depicted the theme by using the Japanese Shippo pattern.” I was fascinated by the tiny traditional pieced blocks she included in small sections of the Shippo pattern. Below is a detail pic:

Look at that little basket block!

Upstairs in the Lancaster convention center was another special exhibit, “35 Years of AQS Anniversary Showcase Preview: Collection of The National Quilt Museum.” The exhibit showcased 15 previous Best of Show quilts on loan from the National Quilt Museum’s permanent collection. Below is a photo I took of Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s Midnight Fantasy #10.

Caryl is one of my quilting heroes. She was one of the innovators of machine quilting, making it an acceptable art form back in the old days (the 1980-90’s) when quilting by machine was controversial, and only hand-quilted quilts were thought of as “real” quilts. It is always wonderful to be able to see one of her masterpieces in person.

Next weekend, next show…..

The second show, The Smithtown Stitchers -The Joy of Quilting was last weekend (April 6-7, 2019). While there, I happened upon one of my students, Rosalie Wong, smiling beautifully in the photo below with her Best of Show award-winning quilt! She had met with me just a few weeks ago, for a little help in deciding how to quilt her magnificent masterpiece. I was proud and flattered to have been a part of the process that produced her gorgeous quilt! Congratulations, Rosalie! A well-deserved award!

Quilt shows are wonderful. They provide us with not only beauty to gaze upon and enjoy, but the opportunity to connect with other quilters and share the joy that quilting brings us. Aren’t we lucky to have such opportunities?

My interview by Teri Lucas

Today, the amazing and uber-talented Teri Lucas posted an interview with me on her blog. It was incredibly fun to answer her great questions!

Read the interview here.

Teri is such fun to be with. She has a sparkling, slightly snarky (in a good way) sense of humor that can, and has, caused her dining companions to snort loudly when they laugh. One of the best outings I’ve ever experienced was a lunch with Teri and Melanie Testa. The three of us laughed so uproariously that  people at other tables  who were innocently trying to enjoy their food gave us dirty looks and may have even muttered under their breath more than once. It was a lunch I’ll never forget.

Teri’s blog currently details her travels as an independent sales representative for Benartex, Northcott, Banyan Batiks, and Figo. She’s a good storyteller. Check it out! She’s a fantastic teacher, too. Take a look at the Tutorials and Helpful Hints section of her website. There’s some really good stuff there.


The importance of being kind to yourself

Venetian Lace #6

I alway make a point of telling my students that they need to be kind to themselves. “It makes no sense to be impatient with yourself,” I tell them during workshops I teach,  “You are the most important person in your life. Be nice to you.” I even write it in my class handouts.

It can be difficult to remember to take care of ourselves first.  I’m reminded of the flight attendant’s instruction to first place the emergency oxygen mask over your own face before tending to your children.  Outside pressures and responsibilities can interfere in our artistic lives, making it difficult to find the time and space that we need to fulfill our creative passions. When we can’t do that, we creative types tend to get cranky. And then those around us can get impatient with us.

But it’s unrealistic to expect our friends and loved ones to be kind, thoughtful and caring towards us, if we can’t manage to feel those very things for ourselves.

Thought for today . . . be nice.  Give yourself a pat on the back for all that you have accomplished, and go easy on yourself for the things that may not be exactly as you’d like them to be.  Things will change.  They always do.

Revisiting the old days – or – On coming home again

It’s been said that you can’t go home again. Maybe that’s true. A person can’t go home again, in actuality, because everything always changes. We ourselves change when we change our surroundings. When we leave our homes, we encounter new things: a new geography, new people, new sights, new smells, new sounds; all these new things affect us, making us change our way of seeing, our way of feeling, and even our way of thinking about the world around us.

We are often told not to dwell on the past. After all, you can’t change it, can you? What’s the sense of taking that trip down memory lane, when you’re sure to come out feeling depressed and frustrated and muttering “couldah, shouldah, wouldah.” Who needs to be reminded of all of their failures, all their mistakes, all their wrong turns and bad decisions? Better to leave all that in the past, where it belongs, right?

Still, it can be a good idea to revisit the past every now and then. After all, there were good things that happened, too. Going ‘home’ again, and thinking about your past can be an excellent way to evaluate where you are in your life, and how you got there. Perhaps it can help to set a course for a new direction or a different way of thinking.

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