Thursday, July 11, 2013


Quilt Retreat This Fall

Last year I met a woman named Patricia Belyea who not only makes quilts, but also imports yukata cloth--the stuff for making kimono--from Japan. That is all well and good. But when I learned that in her previous life she had been in the world of design and marketing, I suggested we talk about co-hosting a quilt retreat. Bingo! Just like that we were flying down the runway toward this fall's destination.

It is going to be my dream come true: a beautiful lodge on the Hood Canal, a couple hours outside of Seattle, which we will have the full use of so we can stay up as late as we want and sew, visit or talk. The place has fantastic food. I will be able to put up a frame so I can have a hand quilting project going, and can teach people how to quilt. AND I get to teach anything I want. I will be teaching classes specially made for the retreat, showing quilters where I get my ideas, how I develop them, how I approach the process. Patricia will be bringing lots of yukata cloth and will have a chance to give us a thorough introduction to it. I will be performing my 12-year-old musical quilt show, Joe the Quilter, one last time before I retire it for good. The whole thing will be fun, relaxing and energizing all at once.

We have a few more spaces to fill in the retreat, so we have decided that now is the time to have a summer special price: $995.00, which includes 5 nights and four days of lodging, with evening events, classes all day, and the thing I am really looking forward to: having someone else cook all the meals.

All the information is here:

I am looking forward to teaching at my first retreat in 20 years. I hope to see you there.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Don't Give Up

I teach a lot of workshops, and in many of them we make blocks which all need to be arranged at the end of the day. Sometimes the quilter will come to me in frustration  and say, "My blocks aren't working!  It's just not going to work." In one of these situations recently I found myself explaining yet again, " Your blocks are fine! All you have to do is stick with them...keep working with them, don't just give up." Don't give up on your project, I always say, because there will come a point in it where your insecurity will bloom and convince you that what you are doing is no good. You just have to work through that, until you get to the point where you see the sort of secret language your project has and learn to speak it.

That is where I ended up with this one, and had to listen to my own advice. My idea was to create a gaudy, strange background for a portrait, then to see if the portrait could overcome its background. The way I made it I ended up with bias edges all around the outside, which caused a lot of trouble. Then, when I was sewing down the bias tape like crazy all around the inside, I seemed to be gathering the fabric a lot, causing lots of fullness and distortion throughout. Oy.

I just wanted to quit and start a new quilt. This is something I rarely do. I usually have to work from beginning to end on a single quilt. So, just as I was starting to pull this off my design wall, I heard my own words ringing in my ear: "Don't give up...stick with it!" That was when I realized I had to see it all the way through.

Alright, then, I thought, lets take these problems one at a time. First, I had to lose all the wavy bias edges that were unfixable. But that would make it too small for my taste. Ah ha! A frame! I could add a frame to replace the outer 6 inches I removed. Since I am making a sort of parody of a Roy Lichtenstein  painting, a frame would fit right in with my intent. It had been so long since I added a border like this that I got heavily into it, the careful measuring, the mitering and all. The more I worked, the more I saw how I could believe in it, how to let it speak its own language.

Sometimes, I do have to let a project go...have to abandon something I can no longer believe in. But that is rare. Mostly I end up like this, needing only to work through the moment when my insecurity takes over and tells me I might as well quit.