Floral Wraps from A Month of Sundays

With no offence to my awesome kids, the best present for me is a day of no-obligation sewing. Just me and the chance to play. So when Hubby offered that up one afternoon on Mother's Day weekend I took advantage. Sure, it was tempting to sip tea and read but I decided I needed to flex my muscles and take something off the very long want-to-do list: Floral Wraps.

In one long afternoon I got five of them cut and nearly all sewn to completion. I was an assembly line machine. Barely took a washroom break. And it was so worth it. Not only was it satisfying, but now I have these great gifts.

The pattern comes from my book, A Month of Sundays. These days we have reusable totes, shopping bags, and even snack bags. But I'd never seen a reusable floral wrap. Sure, the flowers are gorgeous, but the paper and plastic they come wrapped in, not so much. Now you can buy your own flowers and bring them home safely and in style. Or, you can make a wrap and give it as part of the gift!

The floral wrap uses laminated cottons. There are so many available these days. You could, if you preferred, make your own by laminating vinyl to your favourite material. I am lucky, though, in having a few local shops with a good stash of laminated cottons. (In fact, I may need to stock up a bit more now.) Oil cloth works too, but it is a bit stiffer to work with. If you can't source them locally, make sure to check out your favourite online retailers.

Each wrap contains a pocket to hold the stems and ties to keep it all together. By using the laminated cottons your wrap can be simply wiped dry when you load the flowers into a vase, not to mention the ability to keep them moist as you transport.

These are what my girls' teachers are getting this year as gifts. And perhaps a few other people in our lives. Think of these for Mother's Day, birthdays, hostess gifts, just because...

The Curve of Time (Weekend Reads)

Our summer last year started with a road trip. An epic family road trip that saw us meander through the interior of British Columbia, spend a few days with me quilting (teaching) with the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Modern Quilt Guilds, and then hopping on the ferry for a week of camping on Vancouver Island. It was a magical family vacation for us.

Thank goodness our kids are adventurous travellers and don't get car sick.

We did the trip with the modern conveniences of hotels when we didn't want to camp, grocery stores to stock our bins of food at the campsite, and Goretex. So it was both inspiring and deflating when I started reading The Curve of Time while we were on the Island.

M. Wylie Blanchet wrote The Curve of Time, documenting the summers spent on a boat with her five children. The would leave from the coastal home that looked like a fairy's log cabin to board The Caprice as summer began. Up the water ways of the BC coast, both Island side and coast side they would explore. Just her and the kids, and usually the dog. And this was in the 20s and 30s!

Here I was thinking we were brave for a 2 week road trip in our German engineered station wagon.

The stories in the book are haunting at times, light hearted at times. They tell of the growth that happened among the children, of the joys of discovery, of the tension of travel by sea. Mostly they tell of the challenge of motherhood. Because even when you are battling current, ghosts, and storms you are still raising your children. It is a most definitely enlightening tale of mothering, amongst all the scenery, sailing, and adventure.

On that same trip we were on my husband coined the now often used family quote: It's only an adventure when not everyone who left returns, otherwise it's an excursion. The Curve of Time is certainly a book to inspire exploration and install an adventurous spirit in any woman. And to encourage this mama herself to find a few more excursions for her family.

Being Present

It must be said, I cannot do it all.

Writing books and articles, quilting, patterns, and teaching. Mothering, being a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. Cooking and cleaning. Being here. I cannot do it all. Something, somewhere, always falls to the side in a heap of lack of time or enthusiasm. 

Thankfully I have kids who don't see the mess that I do, who beg to go out for steak even when I do want to cook, and who patiently model for me. Thankfully I have a babysitter willing to put in extra hours and friends who will pour me tea when they see my shoulders hovering somewhere over my ears. And family who send texts and understand why I haven't called. And dear readers here who send notes because I haven't blogged in weeks.

The last few weeks have been a blur of a photo shoot for the latest book, then finishing all the details for that book. There were family visits and trips to the ER, movie nights and snuggles, afternoons enjoying the sun then evenings watching the snow. I had to work and sneak in living my life. Laundry optional.

But the manuscript is in, the photo shoot done, the bathrooms cleaned, and some brisket in the oven. So I can sew for fun again and laugh with the kids over bad knock knock jokes. I can sit down with my husband at the end of the day instead of burrowing into the studio. I can catch up with the world.

Speaking of the photo shoot for the book...

Kate Inglis came out to shoot this book as well. It is an insane collaboration that I am proud to be a part of. She shot A Month of Sundays too. We hit the ground and five days later it feels like we surface into regular light and reality. And along the way we shoot. Well, she shoots the things I tell her too and she translates my obscure thoughts into gorgeous images, capturing the light and the quilts in a way I didn't imagine. In between we eat and drive and talk and fall into dreams.

Now she is home, celebrating her own book, Flight of the Griffons. The universe may explode from her creative powers. 

And I am home, here. Quietly being who I am.


Modern Quilt Perspectives (Almost Weekend Reads)

Well, you know I am a fan of quilt books that are more than a collection of patterns. So imagine my delight at one where the patterns, at first, feel like an afterthought! Then, after a careful read, they are not. Rather, they are part of an integral whole story. Not just of the specific quilt, but of the book.

Meta? Yes, I know I'm pushing it a little, but bear with me.

Modern Quilt Perspectives is a book about the practice of quilting more than the quilts. But in that discussion is the inherent story of a quilt. For every quilt has a story. Don't believe me? Wait for it, I will get to that.

This book tackles the many reasons and themes we make quilts. Conversations, Identity, Social Commentary, and the Quilting Tradition are all tackled. Through a brief discussion; the story of each quilt; running commentary of design, technique, and decision making in quilts; and the pattern itself. Thomas Knauer reveals so much of himself in the practice of making his quilts. Central to all of these discussions is that each quilt has a story.

Thomas introduces so much here. It is a structured bit of work for a guy who freely speaks his mind and isn't afraid of challenging norms. The book really is his, right down to his explanations of basic quilting tools. And the stories he tells of the quilts are emotional and vibrant. Not to mention inspiring.

When I first started the book I grumbled a little that patterns were included. The discussions Thomas presents are thoughtful, if not cerebral. They are a direct challenge for us to examine the way we think about quilts and our making of them. I believe every single quilter would benefit from taking the time to examine their making. So when I came to patterns for each quilt it frustrated me. If the goal is to get the reader to reflect on their own quilt stories, why would we be encouraged to simply recreate a quilt Thomas made? Then I read this:

"The pattern is only a map, a set of guideposts along the way to make a quilt. In many ways, a pattern is the quilt boiled down to its essentials, not just technically, but conceptually, and each remaking is an investigation of the ideas under consideration. I think of most of my patterns as a set of possibilities, the starting of a conversation about an issue, thought or world view. The specific materials you choose and the ways you might vary the pattern are responses and replies... I have come to really love the idea of quilt patterns, the idea of these quilts being made and remade in untold variations and the ways in which these quilts will become parts of people's lives."

It puts into a words a completely different perspective on patterns. It isn't about recreating the quilt on the cover or the page, it is about making that quilt yours and part of your story.

For sure, there are quilters who walk into a store and ask for the exact fabric on the pattern cover. Or they buy a kit. But you know what? That's their story. You don't know why they need it to be perfectly matched, they may not even know. But something in the fabric, in the pattern spoke to them and they want to join the conversation.

How many times have you been at a guild or retreat show and tell and someone stands up and just says, "I don't know why I chose these fabrics, I just liked them." Well, that's a story. Thomas, in Modern Quilt Perspectives, invites us to dig a little deeper into that story too. Why those fabrics? Why that pattern? What spoke to you? Find the story, even when you don't think it is there.

So, this book couldn't exist without the patterns because they are indeed part of the conversation. Twelve different tangents of a long, winding conversation. And who knows where they will go?

F&W, the publisher, is giving away a copy of this book to one of my readers. I was provided with a review copy for this post, part of Thomas' blog tour. Leave a comment here by midnight MST on Sunday, April 13. Tell me how often you work from patterns and kits.