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Archive for January, 2010

French GeneralYou’ll probably think I’m crazy when I tell you (or maybe you’ve already come to that conclusion) that I managed to get myself down to the French General shop in Los Angeles (www.frenchgeneral.com) again this past weekend.  But, what a delight it was. 

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a Creative Soiree by Kaari Meng (from French General) and Jo Peckham from the magazine Where Women Create (www.wherewomencreate.com).  Don’t ask me how I got invited, because I haven’t a clue.

The event billed itself as an event in honor of  CHA.  Not knowing what CHA was I quickly turned to google to reveal all.  I found out that CHA does not stand for a type of tea (that’s CHI) but  stands for the Crafts and Hobby Association which hosts shows for both retail and wholesale shows for crafters.  And the focus of the soiree was to bring together a selected group of vendors, crafters, and at least one lurker (I believe that would be me) who had travelled to attend CHA and let them be creative.

Since I barely knew what CHA was, I didn’t quite make it to the show…but it didn’t keep me from making the trip down from San Jose to Los Angeles to attend the soiree.  After all, five hours isn’t that long to drive to attend a magical event. 

Not knowing what to expect, I actually saw a couple of familiar faces (including Joanna Figeroa from Fig Tree Quilts) and met a few others that I’ve only known by email (Paula from Paula’s Kit Club) or through their books (Amy Hanna author of Rejuvinated  Jewels).  There were also editors from a couple craft book publishers (Lark Books and Watson-Guptill Publications) and other folks that I know I’d seem before in the pages of various publications but didn’t know their names.

I was able to do a little shopping including beads and charms from the variety of antique jars shown here.   Also on view was fabric from the next two lines of French General fabric that Kaari has designed for Moda Fabrics.   Titled Rural Jardin and  Lumiere de Noel, they should be available in shops in March and June of this year,  respectively.

Someone at the party asked me if my friends questioned me for having driven some 300 miles to attend a party.  My reply was that my friends know me far too well to think that a measly 300 miles would keep me from attending something so wonderful.  My sincere thanks  to Jo Peckham  and Kaari Meng for a wonderful weekend.

–Penny

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Stitching at Mapledurham

Even thought it’s months and months off, I’ve been thinking of what stitching I’ll need to get ready for my long adventure to England this year.  I keep changing my mind…do I take one of those long ago started projects?  Maybe something new?  Maybe something with paper piecing?  It’s just too hard to decide. 

The quilt I worked on during my last trip two years ago is in the photo above.  I managed to finish appliquing the swag border, all while watching the BBC on the telly.  And, I only had to take red thread!   The quilt is still in it’s “top” stage…but hopefully it will get finished up this year. 

The Almshouses at Mapledurham

During that trip I stayed at The Bothy, one of the cottages we’ll be returning to this year.   Mapledurham (www.mapledurham.co.uk) is a wonderful estate about an hour’s drive from London that has eight cottages that it rents out on a weekly basis.  In addition to a phone booth and post box, it boasts a watermill and manor house  — all within a short stroll from the River Thames. 

Back in 1999, I brought a group of 18 women to England for a quilt tour, and we took over four of the cottages on the Mapledurham estate.  And, since then, I’ve returned whenever I could (although with not quite so many companions).

The Bothy at Mapledurham

If you are planning at trip to the UK, and you’re not intimidated by driving on the other side of the road, you may want to consider renting a cottage.  You’ll get a slice of rural life, as well as the opportunity to eat scones and clotted cream while in your jammies.  It can be less expensive that staying in a hotel, even more so because you can do some of your own cooking.  And, if you are as fortunate as I am to have some terrific friends to go with…you’ll appreciate every moment.

— Penny

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Fleurs d'Haiti Bracelet by Kaari Meng

Being from California, I think I have a particular appreciation for the effects of earthquakes.  It’s something that is always with us…and there is rarely warning.  So the recent events in Haiti have hit hard.

Last night I read a post from Kaari Meng of French General (http://frenchgeneral.blogspot.com/) saying that she has donated a dozen bracelet kits that will be sold off on Etsy with the proceeds going to the relief effort in Haiti.   This is all being organized by a friend of hers, Rebecca Sower,  who has received donations of some beautiful hand-crafted items as well as bundles of craft supplies from some very talented folks.  So, if you’re interested in helping out AND getting a wonderful bracelet kit to boot, check out the items available on the Haiti by Hand Etsy storefront by clicking here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/haitibyhand.   And, if you don’t see the bracelet kits uploaded quite yet…check back. 

And, in keeping with this theme I’d like to make folks aware of another way in which we can all help our neighbors in Haiti.   Through my employer, I found out about the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti (http://www.hashaiti.org/).  Even though it’s some 50 miles north of Port au Prince, it is one of the closest hospitals still functioning fully.   As you can imagine, it’s being tested in terms of capacity by treating far more people than it has space and supplies for.  So, if you’re looking for a way to do more for Haiti, you might want to consider this organization.   (FYI, I have no affiliation with this hospital.)

–Penny

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Yellow Yuwa Fabrics

I’m hopeful that some of you out there in blogland can help me with a little fabric surveillence, especially those of you in Australia who seem to have more access to Yuwa fabrics than us in the US.

As you may has figured out, I’m nuts for Yuwa fabrics.  And, I have a fairly extensive collection…but when I look at my Yuwa closet (yeah, it’s actually a whole closet full of Yuwa fabrics) it seems that I focused on reds and pinks with a smattering of beige and green.  But I got this crazy idea a few months back that I would pull all my yellow yuwa florals (those yummy, buttery and baby yellows) and make a quilt.  Only problem…I don’t have enough yellow fabrics; even having exhausted all my usual sources. 

So, if any of you have any ideas on where to pick up small pieces of yellow Yuwa fabrics, can you give me a shout out?  Anything between a fat eighth up to a fat quarter would be the right size.  I’d also happy to trade fabrics…Yuwa for Yuwa…if you have some in your personal stash that you can bear to give up and are looking for pinks or beiges.

And, for all of you out there (and I see what you’re searching for) that are looking for sources for Yuwa Fabric in the US, I understand that Prairie Queens fabrics is expanding their website.  This should make it easier to see the Yuwa fabrics that they have in stock.  Check them out at www. prairiequeensquilts.com.   Don’t know when the expansion will occur, but it’s worth checking anyway.

–Penny (fingers crossed)

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Happy Dance

I’m really not much of a gadget girl.  Why, I don’t even have a pair of applique scissors!  But, one thing I really do love is a great template/ruler.  And, the Quilt-in-a-Day ruler for making flying geese is one of my very favorite tools.  

Prior to Eleanor Burns’ stroke of genius in plexiglass, I hated making flying geese.  They were always coming out wonky, or worse yet…the wrong size.    I even taught a class on six ways of making flying geese a few years back.   Every half hour I taught a new way.  But, everyone agreed…that if you needed a standard size that this was the most accurate and speedy way to make gaggles and gaggles of geese.

Quilt-in-a-Day Flying Geese Ruler

So, why the happy dance you ask????   After all these rulers have been on the market for several years now.  Well, besides having templates that make 1″ X 2″, 2″ X 4″, 4″ X 8″, 1.5″ X 3″, and 3″ X 6″ flying geese….Eleanor Burns has just released a new size…the JUMBO Flying Geese Ruler that will make a whopping 5″ X 10″ block as well as the smaller 2.5″ X 5″ one.  Why, that’s not even a flying geese anymore…it’s a flying Pterosaur (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pterosaur). 

Always check your local store…but in case you don’t have these rulers in your sewing box and can’t find them locally look here for this and the other sizes of these wonderful rulers: www.quiltinaday.com/shoponline/rulers_display.asp?i=18527.

— Penny (who is trying to dry out from all the California rain..we may drop off into the ocean yet)

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Parisian Courtyard

As many of us do, I find that I have such limited time to quilt my own designs these days…what with work and getting ready for my class projects…the discretionary quilting time just isn’t there.  But, happily, my place of employment insisted that we all take two weeks off as vacation this past holiday season.  This allowed me an entire week to do whatever I wished.  Gosh, when was the last time that happened???!!!!  No fulfilling commitments to others, no seminars to organize, no crazy attempts to take a vacation to a faraway land that puts me home more tired than when I left.  It was bliss to just stay home in my flannel nightgown and sew while watching Pride and Prejudice for the 185th time. 

So, I’m sharing with you the fruits of my holiday labour…or also known as my completed top from the fabric line Rouenneries by Kaari Meng of French General (www.frenchgeneral.com).  As you can see, I even did some heavy-duty piecing along side my applique…imagine.   I’m sorting out about the quilting, so keep tuned for the finished quilt.

"Parisian Countyard"

Inspiration for the overall design came from an antique quilt in the collection at Winterthur, and the appliqued center from a ceramic tile.

— Penny

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More on Hexagons

My hexagon class is fast approaching and I thought I’d come up with a quick little project for the students to make.  So, after looking at a fabulous antique hexagon quilt shown in the book The Fabric of Society by Annette Gero, I came up with this little diamond shape with an appliqued insert of a pretty basket fabric.  

I used the 3/4″ hexagons available from Paper Pieces (www.paperpieces.com), so it’s not all that big of piece; actually perfect for a little sachet pillow or pincushion.  Isn’t it cute.  It took just a couple of eveings to put the hexagons together.  I used two fabrics from the upcoming line of French General fabrics called Rural Jardin, along with a treasured piece of Yuwa fabric (the flower basket).  And now it’s all layered and basted to be hand quilted.(Yes, I’m giving hand quilting another go.  It’s small…keep your fingers crossed.)

By the way, if you haven’t seen the book I mentioned, take a look at Annette Gero’s website her clicking here http://www.annettegero.com.  The book might seem expensive, but beautiful books like this are well worth the cash outlay.  It’s a hefty coffee-table kinda book, with magnificent color pictures with a bonus — Kim McLean has designed reproduction patterns for many of the quilts included.  Can’t go wrong with that. 

–Penny

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