"memories"

The Places I've Been - Improv Letters in Action

Improv Letters and Words Quilting

The quintessential graduation gift is Dr. Suess’ Oh, the Places You Will Go! For whether you are graduating from kindergarten or medical school. It’s a fun one, full of optimism and encouragement. And while I don’t want to disparage any of that, I do think it is also important to look backwards some times. Not to hold grudges, obsess over past mistakes, or fester (although I do a fair bit of that myself). No, looking back sometimes is important for celebrating progress and success. It is a good reminder that our hard work did get us somewhere.

In the wake of some high profile retirements from the quilting industry, plus a few more you might not have noticed, I’ve been doing just that. Well, actually, I started this particular process years ago, but the past month really got me being reflective.

Quilting was a lifechanger and is a lifesaver for me, no question. I would not be the person I am, the mother I am, the woman I am, without quilting. It teaches me to embrace my own creativity. It provides a mindfulness that no amount of meditation would ever give me. It is an outlet for anxious hands. And, at the end of the day, is a career that provides financial freedom and personal challenge.

A few years back I started teaching a class on making letters and words, improv style. For my class samples I started working on the names of places I was at or had been. As a teacher I like having samples that can be something else some day, that can be built upon with each class I teach. It simply provides a focus. Picking the community names was a fun thing I tried. And it kind of stuck.

Cheryl Arkison Quilt Teacher

In all fairness, I haven’t got that far. I will admit to overwhelm when I think of having to add Charlottetown, Kangaroo Valley, and Prince Rupert to the list. That’s a lot of letters! But when I sit down to make a word, in the end, it doesn’t take that long. It becomes a wonderful trip down memory lane. I often pull out the photos from the trip and pick colours based on the scenery or something memorable from the class.

My plan is to make a quilt with all the places I’ve been. I can’t predict where I will go in this industry - it is constantly changing, as are my personal challenges - but I sure can appreciate where I’ve been. Since becoming a professional, as a writer and teacher mostly, quilting brought me to some pretty amazing places to meet some even more amazing people. How lucky am I?? I’ve worked hard and will continue to do so (this is not a retirement announcement). As I have no travel gigs booked for this year I might get this done to this point. Then we will see all the other places I will go!

Amanda Jean Made Me Do It

Seven years ago I made a leap. I was recuperating from my stupid knee injuries and thinking a lot about life, about what I wanted to be when I grew up. At that time I started emailing another blogger a bit more. One day we decided to take our relationship to the next level and talk on the phone. It was like being a teenager all over again, chit chatting for hours as I lay on my bed and ignored my family. Now I consider her a good friend, a professional colleague, and a quilty inspiration.

No Scrap Left Behind Binding Triangles

Amanda Jean Nyberg now has a new book. It is out now and I jumped on board to help her celebrate. No Scrap Left Behind is her perfect book. She is extraordinarily frugal and saves everything. This book takes that mentality and applies it to all your fabric. She does so with useful tips, storage ideas, and completely inspiring quilts. 

To celebrate the release of the book Amanda asked us to not only blog about the book but to also make something from it. Back when we were writing Sunday Morning Quilts she got me to save my binding triangles. Those little bits we cut off when joining binding strips. I hadn't exactly been throwing them away, but they got dumped in with the rest of my colour sorted scraps. In our discussions writing the book we agreed on sorting by colour as well as pulling out strips/strings and snippets. She took it to the next level with those binding triangles. So I started putting mine aside. They filled a jar. Then overflowed the jar. After that they filled a bowl. Just as I was thinking it was time to do something about them No Scrap Left Behind comes out. It was meant to be.

No Scrap Left Behind Chain of Diamonds

There are two quilts in the book that I could have done, Remainders and Chain of Diamonds (not to mention Up, Up, and Away from Sunday Morning Quilts). I chose Chain of Diamonds because it reminded me of a sketch I once made myself from a store window I once saw. Plus, I had a lot of colours in my overflowing jar and bowl.

I'm not going to lie, this was an intense make. Made more so by me doing it over the last 2 weeks while I was sick (and my kids). I counted, there are 1709 seams in this quilt! But the good thing is that they are all small. 

No Scrap Left Behind Small Piecing

To keep the project a lot more manageable, I suggest turning this into one of two things. Make the blocks as leaders/enders. That is, prep your background squares and keep them next to your machine with the triangles. At the end of a seam when you are working on something else sew a triangle on instead of cutting your thread. Or, turn this into a Morning Make project. Spend 10-20 minutes a day and slowly but sure the blocks will come together. 

Regardless of how you do this I would totally recommend this quilt. It was fun, it has great impact, and it makes excellent use of those scraps!

I went from a full platter (once I unsquished them from the jar/bowl) to barely a third. I even had to cut a few extra scraps to round out the selection. Now I just might have to make something else to use the rest of the triangles! For a change from my instinctual mix of low volume fabrics for the background I went all the way to the other end of the spectrum. Black prints, including many from my Tag collection, played together. As I made blocks it was a lot of fun to think back to the quilt where the scrap came from. So many memories.

No Scrap Left Behind Binding Triangles

Thanks for being a good friend all these years Amanda Jean. And for continuing to be such an inspiration to quilters everywhere.

I'm happy to be giving away a copy of the No Scrap Left Behind to a lucky reader, courtesy of C&T Publishing. Trust me, you want this book! Please leave a comment below, including your email: nameATserverDOTcom. I can't auto reply through my blog so I need your email to get you your prize. US winners get a hard copy of the book, International winners will get a digital version.

GIVE AWAY IS NOW CLOSED

No Scrap Left Behind

 

Make sure you check out all the other bloggers sharing their projects from the book:

Monday, April 24th Mary Kolb

Tuesday, April 25, Lee Monroe

Wednesday, April 26, Sandi Hazelwood

Thursday, April 27, Bernie Kringel

Friday, April 28, Erin Cox

Monday, May 1, Katherine Greaves

Tuesday, May 2, Tracy Mooney

Wednesday, May 3, Cheryl Arkison

Thursday, May 4, Debbie Jeske

Friday, May 5, 

Giveaway Winner was Sue, comment 190/226. Thanks to the Random Number Generator.

Love the black & white background you used! It's nice to read how you became friends with Amanda Jean too. :)

All The Sundays

Sunday Morning Quilts A Month of Sundays Denyse Schmidt

All The Sundays

70'' x 70''

An oh so special quilt is finally finished. I wasn't impatient or anything, but as soon as the last stitches went in the other day I realized how much I wanted this quilt to be done. Only so that it could be real, that it could be a thing I used and loved.

The first bits of piecing in this quilt started years ago. I was teaching a Slab class, the technique popularized in my book with Amanda Jean, Sunday Morning Quilts. In my prep for the class I grabbed a bunch of scraps from making the quilts in A Month of Sundays. They were handy, that's all. I had no specific plan. So I made my samples for the class and that was that. A bit later I was reading Denyse Schmidt's book, Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspirations. Her Shoeman's Puzzle quilt grabbed me immediately.

I'm not sure when the moment was that I decided to combine all these influences into one quilt, but it happened. And it was love at first sight.

Slabs and Low Volume and Shoeman's Puzzle

It wasn't an easy quilt to make. I made freezer paper templates to keep me on track. Those didn't come into play until after I'd made slabs though. The templates were totally necessary to keep lines as they should be, especially important with all those angles and bias edges. Of course, then there is the removing of the paper. Thankfully there are only 3 seams in each block, about the easiest paper piecing you can do.

The quilt top sat for a year and a half in the closet, keeping a dozen other quilt tops company. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do to quilt it and was willing to wait until the right idea hit me. Or, the right person to do it for me. 

Last summer I met Dara from Stitched Quilting Co. Turns out her MIL lives a few blocks away from me. We had a few visits and chatted quilting, dogs, and mothering. Well a couple of months ago Dara messaged to say she had an opening in her long arm schedule and delivery ready, if I had a quilt to go. Seeing as my Quilts Under Construction list is quite long I wasn't about to turn down the opportunity! This quilt made the cut precisely because I didn't have a plan for it and I already had a wide back purchased and ready to go. After a frantic evening of pulling papers and a few repairs I got it to Dara.

Stitched Quilting Co Free Motion Quilting

With so much solid expanse in the whites/creams of the quilt top this needed a special touch. Dara gave it just that! Such custom, detailed work. So much attention to detail. There are secondary and tertiary patterns in this quilt top and her quilting highlighted them. I'm thrilled with the outcome.

For the backing and binding I chose to go back to my dear friend Amanda Jean's fabric, Good Neighbors. She had a wide back fabric in that collection. And the orange dot was absolutely perfect for the binding. Conveniently I'd just ordered a half yard of it, the perfect amount. And lucky for me, because neither are available anymore!

Good Neighbors Fabric Crazy Mom Quilts

My husband will happily tell anyone that we have a ridiculous amount of quilts in our house. He is very obliging if we are asked for donations or gifts. Little does he know that this quilt will never leave my hands. It represents so much to me, not to mention that I think it is absolutely beautiful. I will always think of friendships, how my career has grown, and the history contained in some beautiful fabric. 

Y2K Quilt - My Oldest Quilt Under Construction

Y2K Quilt in Progress

Back when I was cleaning my garage a few summers ago I came across a few boxes of quilting items. I was pretty lucky no mice made their homes in there. Two round robins project quilts that belonged to someone else (one returned at least) and my Y2K charms.

What are the Y2K charms?

Back in 1999 - when we thought the world was going to end with a massive computer crash - quilters did their best to move on by swapping charms. Precisely, swapping packs of 25 charms with 80 people. Resulting in 2000 charms for a quilt!

After discovering the box again I played with the charms, sorting them by value. They then became a thing I brought out to be leaders and enders as I worked on other projects. That is, sewing pairs or rows together at the beginning or ending of a seam. Progress gets made, but it is slow progress. 

Y2K quilt rows

Let me tell you, these are some interesting fabrics. Definitely not what we would consider modern now. There are, however, some gems in here. I must also admit, that I am kind of falling for the little calico prints. They are so tiny. The colours may not be what I like, but the scale is lovely. 

Right now I am up to 25 rows sewn together. That's half. 2000 charms makes 50 rows of 40 for an 80'' by 100'' quilt. Nothing is pressed, none of those rows are sewn to each other. But that is progress with minimal effort. I just might have it done by the next millennium. Well, at least the next century.