Japanese Scissors and a New Quilt

Names for Snow Quilt Improv quilting

It is well known among the people who live with quilters and sewers that our scissors are protected and precious commodities. Use them on paper and we might divorce you! At least, according to endless memes and jokes. All jokes aside, our scissors are such a fundamental tool in the sewing kit. Rotary cutters are amazing, but we all know not a thing can happen without scissors.

I've spoken before of my love for the Japanese tailor's scissors in my possession. I love these scissors so much I have two pairs.

Last month I decided that I would make a quilt only using scissors. Even for squaring up. Free hand cut squares made in to half square triangles. I had a stack of white/cream/neutral fabrics that needed to be brought to life so they were the starting point. I don't have much time these days to sew, so my Morning Make is deliciously important to me right now. Each day I make a set or two of these improv half square triangles. Slowly but surely they are adding up. And because we are having a proper winter here with loads of snow and a lot of cold weather the inspiration is quite literal. I've already got a name for this quilt: Names for Snow.

Scissors Quilt Improvisational Piecing

But back to those scissors. 

My scissors were brought in special by the great owner of Knifewear, a local shop specialized in Japanese forged steel. Their knives are beautiful, sharp, and amazing. About six years ago I asked the owner if he ever sees good scissors on his buying trips to grab me a pair. And lucky me, he obliged. They quickly became my favourites. They travel with me to classes and the requests from students for their own pair increased. So I asked Knifewear again. And guess what? They've brought in a couple of dozen for you!

Japanese Sewing Scissors

Can we take a moment to admire the awesome packaging?

Don't let it distract your from the incredible scissors inside though. We brought in two sizes: 240mm and 190mm. That is the size of the overall scissors, not the blade length. The handles are essentially the same.

Large = 4'' blade length with a blunt tip 

Small = 2 1/4'' blade length with a pointed tip

Let me tell you two things. One, they are ridiculously comfortable to use. If your hands get tired cutting these scissors will change that. And two, they are phenomenally sharp and precise. So sharp. An utter dream to use. 

Japanese Sewing Scissors

Knifewear is selling the scissors at their Calgary, Ottawa, and Vancouver stores. If you can get in there you will be spoiled by all the amazing things they have. (You've been warned.)

You can also buy them directly from me. I have a handful of each size available. If you are interested, then send me an email or direct message. First come, first served. Email is at the bottom of the page.  Cost below:

Small $93

Large $109 (Also comes with oil for the hinge)

Plus personalized shipping. Trust me, they are worth every single penny. And yes, keep these from grubby hands who might cut paper with them!

Cheryl Arkison Scissors

Adventure - A Quilt for Not a Book

Improv quilting Doe fabric

Adventure

36'' x 42''

My husband defines the distinction between an excursion and an adventure as this: When you go on an excursion everyone makes it back. When you go on an adventure, somebody or something doesn't survive the trip. He is morbid and sarcastic, that man. 

This quilt is definitely an adventure.

A few years ago I had an idea for a book. I was fresh off the publication of You Inspire Me to Quilt, still riding high. Over bourbon on the best patio over I sat down with an industry friend, a good colleague, and we were brainstorming ideas for my next book. We both got really excited about one particular idea. It was stellar. Or maybe it was the bourbon talking?

Walking Foot Quilting Aurifil Thread
Robert Kaufman Essex Linen

Nope, it's still a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, my publisher did not necessarily agree. Even though I've published three books I can't just throw an idea at them and have them send a contract my way immediately. So I took a few months to flesh it out. Because of the nature of the concept this required more time than I usually need at this stage. A book proposal is necessarily detailed as it is - table of contents, sample chapter, and quilt examples all required - but this one needed even more to get the concept across. I got all this together and then they came back with a request for an actual quilt to see the concept in action.

Sigh. 

Sure, okay. I went right to it. Got the quilt top all made, got it basted, then stopped. Life got busy. And it's never really stopped. No excuse, because I've made other quilts in the meantime. But the mojo slipped away after the initial burst of work. Then the reality of whether I truly had the time to actually write another book sunk in. I did not. Not for about 2 years there. I so desperately wanted to, but unless I became both a) suddenly flush with cash and b) able to function on zero sleep for months at a time it wasn't going to happen.

I won't lie, I shed some tears over this. Frustrated and annoyed at the position I was in - even though I put myself in that exact position - I wallowed for a bit. I got depressed seeing the success of others in the industry via social media, jealous even. It was ugly and mean spirited on my part, to be perfectly honest. And that is before I beat myself up on the regular about it all.

Not sure how exactly, but gaining some perspective changed everything. At some point I took stock of my own successes and felt proud. I started to play my own game. I saw all the freelance, short burst writing I was doing as practice for everything else. My schedule, or at least my approach to it, allowed for more time. So I re-pitched the book concept. 

Shot down again.

This time though I decided the quilt I'd started needed to not languish on the closet shelf. Up there it mocked me, made me feel like a failure. It was time to reclaim that part of my creative history. At worst, it becomes another story to tell at a trunk show (or on a blog). At best, it becomes a cool quilt gifted to a beautiful baby. So here it is. 

This quilt went on a creative adventure. The book never came back alive, but that's okay. The journey was still worth it. And who knows, that concept hasn't died entirely...

Improvisational Quilts Half Square Triangles
Carolyn Friedlander Doe Fabric

Quilt Details:

-  Fabric is a couple of Mini Charm packs of Carolyn Friedlander Doe mixed with her curated selection of Kona cottons. It was a give away from Quilt Market a few years back. The background is Essex Linen.

- Backing is also from Doe.

- Binding is Carolyn's crosshatch in this amazing green. I wish I could find more.

- Quilted with a pale yellow from Aurifil in straight lines changing directions. There were a million knots to bury with the quilting pattern I chose, but I do love the end result.

Ballet Blue - A Donation for The Blue Gala

Blue Quilt Calgary Murals Instagram Worthy

Ballet Blue

72'' x 72''

When the fact that you have 3 bins if blue fabric combines with a request for a donation quilt for an event called The Blue Gala this happens.

It actually started when I pulled out some scraps to make a sample strip set for a class I was teaching. Just one block. But then the donation request came and the block was sitting there, demanding my attention. It was rather bossy, actually. And before I could stop myself I spent my mornings making more strips sets and cutting more blocks. I fell in love with the process as much as the final result.

Sew strips together, cut a block on point. Take the scraps and add more strips, cut more blocks. I became obsessed with minimizing the waste after cutting. And when the blocks are together I loved the lines the precise squares brought back. I always say with improvisational piecing that at some point you have to add the order back in. This quilt ends up a great combination of improv and precision piecing.

Blue Gala Silent Auction Quilt Donation

I digress...

When I posted the quilt top a few months ago the amazing Dara at Stitched Quilting Co offered to quilt it for me, a donation of her services to the cause. Thank you so much Dara! That girl loves her free motion work and it shows. She added depth and even more movement to the quilt.

This quilt will be part of a silent auction at The Blue Gala. All proceeds go to Pancreatic Cancer Canada. I am thrilled to support the cause for two reasons. One, my son is part of the ballet school, H/W Ballet, hosting the event and will be dancing. More important than that though, is that my father in law was taken from us too young and very quickly from pancreatic cancer. In tribute to him, I make and donate this quilt. 

If you are local or looking for a good Saturday night out you can come join us at the gala. If you aren't local but are interested in bidding on the quilt shoot me a note. I will also be on Instagram Stories that night, watching the bid. After I watch my boy dance, of course.

Blue Gala Quilt Binding Carolyn Friedlander Archtextures.

Familiar Blocks in Fun Ways

Churn Dash Traditional and Modern Quilt

As a quilt teacher I am constantly thinking about my classes. Seriously, I think about them a lot. If I am not prepping a class - I teach a few times monthly now - I am playing around with ideas for classes. Can I change the way I am teaching a technique? What feedback did I get from that workshop? Do stores even want this class? Who else can I pitch a class to? It is a near constant state of juggle and hustle. At the same time, I want consistency and any marketing expert will tell you that I should have some standards.

Last year I ran a fun series at a local shop. I'm still trying to figure out how to translate it into my offerings because there is overlap with existing listings. For now, I am excited to offer this new class.

Familiar Blocks in Fun Ways

Take a traditional block and change it up. Play with technique, scale, colour, value, and more as your take the familiar and turn it into something fantastic and fun. 

Right now it is on offer at My Sewing Room as a monthly club. Each month we will tackled a familiar block. Up first is Churn Dash. Coming up next is Pinwheel. Then we have Stars, Drunkard's Path, House blocks, and Flying Geese. I had a lot of fun sewing up that first sample and I have no doubt students will as well.

2018 is set up to be a busy year for teaching, with a few trips and a lot of local classes. Like I said, I am constantly looking at the juggle and the hustle. My schedule is still being updated - there are some fun Fall excursions in the works. Keep an eye on things! Teaching is one of my most favourite things to do so I know this will be good times ahead for all. 

I am always open to feedback, custom requests, and questions. This includes my classes. Don't hesitate to drop me a line.