Sleepy Saturday

While I love you dearly, I was tempted, almost beyond my ability to resist, to stay in bed this morning and not bother opening the shop. “Why?” you ask. Because it was dark, rainy, and just a perfect day for staying in bed snoozing, or maybe reading a book. With Paducah coming to an end, and it being a rainy day, I was pretty sure no one much would be out and about today. Unfortunately, I was right.

While I know quilters in this area and beyond look forward to the AQS show in Paducah each year, quilt shop owners do not. Well, maybe I should only speak for myself. This quilt shop owner doesn’t look forward to Paducah time because it pretty much kills business for the whole month of April and on into May. “Why?” you ask again. Because folks who make plans to go to Paducah save their money for weeks before the trip, then spend their money on the trip, and then are broke once they get back home from the trip for a few more weeks. It really takes a bite out of our monthly sales figures. Not good for a small, independent quilt shop. Even if they don’t buy all that much at the show it still costs a dollar or two to make the trip, especially if they stay for three or four days.

In past years, we’ve had folks drop in on their way to Paducah which is always nice. We didn’t this year as far as I could determine. We also have had folks drop in on their way back home from Paducah. Again, I don’t think a single person who’s been on their way home stopped by. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I have some theories rolling around in my head that I’ll let stay there for the time being.

I have heard, by way of conversations, from a few ladies who went that the quilts, while mostly beautiful, were too artsy for their taste and there was almost nothing there that they’d take the time to make. The skill level was amazing as one would expect, but the “life” in the quilts left something to be desired. One person thought there were too many pictorial quilts, something she’d never bother trying…me neither for that matter. Call me old fashioned (I’ve been called worse and probably will be again if you keep on reading), but I still marvel as much if not more over the appliqué quilts made back in the ‘30s and the hand quilting that was done on them than over the modern/contemporary quilts of today. Maybe that’s because those quilts from long ago were made with very primitive tools by comparison to what we have today, and the fabrics were whatever the quilter could get her hands on. No matchy matchy, dye or print fabric especially for a particular quilt back then.

I know I’m opening a can of worms here, and no, I’m not knocking or belittling the quilts that were exhibited this year, or any year. I greatly admire the work of these artists and know enough to appreciate all the time and energy that gets put into these quilts. I well remember my introduction into the world of art quilting by Caryl Bryer Fallert and her stunning quilt New Dawn. I went to Martha Pullen’s Quilt Academy the very first year it was held, and every year thereafter, just to see Nancy Zieman. She was the only person on the program who I’d ever heard of. You have to understand, at this point in time I was not into quilting but was very much into sewing, especially children’s garments. In that same venue I not only saw Mrs. Zieman and Mrs. Fallert-Gentry, but I also fell under the spell of Jinny Beyer and Ricky Tims. This was a three day event and I went home after the first day with brain overload…bigtime!

When I got home I pulled up New Dawn on the computer to show my husband. I told him I’d found what I wanted for Christmas (you can stop laughing any time now…). When he saw the photo of the quilt his exact words were, “That’s not a quilt!” When I told him it was an art quilt he was just as dumbfounded as I had been. Who would have thought that someone could take fabric and make something that looked so much like a painting. To this day that remains one of my most favorite quilts to look at. Victoria saved a photo of it to my phone and that’s what shows up any time I press the “on” button. She also saved a photo of Ricky Tim’s Fire Dragon Rhapsody (you might have to scroll down a few rows to see it). This is the quilt I see after I swipe the little arrow to open my phone. It is also the quilt that Mr. Tims debuted at our shop in April 2005 when he taught here. He’d not entered it into Paducah that year because he’d entered the Lonestar quilt he and his dad had done together. So you see, I do appreciate and admire art quilts.

It just appears to me, by way of observation, that the quilting world seems to still be split into two sectors. If that truly is the case, and neither the twain shall meet, maybe the shows need to be split as well. Maybe there needs to be a major show for traditional quilters and a separate major show for the contemporary, art, and modern quilter. Just thinkin’ out loud here…

According to the speaker at a recent guild meeting, quilts that won ribbons years ago wouldn’t even be considered for shows today. I know the observation wasn’t meant to sound snooty, but I couldn’t help but kinda hear it that way. I have no doubt that those quilts from years ago were just as well made but not nearly as over the top as those we’re seeing now. If it’s true that skillfully made quilts that are traditional in nature will face higher hurdles just to make it into the major quilt shows where all the big money is to be had, then those quilts may very well be doomed to be relegated to local quilt shows where they may only get local exposure and never be seen by the larger quilting population who would appreciate them just as much as they do those over-the-top quilts at the major shows. And no, I’m not knocking the local quilt shows either because some of them are pretty good size and have some awesome quilts on display. I just can’t help but wonder what would happen if those quilters who prefer traditional quilts and who go to the AQS show in Paducah each year only to come back somewhat to very disappointed because they see their quilting world going more and more toward the artsy side of quilting decided to just quit going to the show all together. Would they be missed? Are there enough of the artsy quilt lovers out there to sustain a show of such magnitude? I’d already heard from vendors at past shows that sales were down and some vendors opted not to even go to one of the biggest shows on the books. Yes, it makes you wonder what would happen if the traditionally minded quilters stepped away, or “shrugged” if you will, and used their buying power differently. Hmmm…

OK…this whole post totally went down a rabbit trail because what I’d REALLY meant to tell you about is a new set of FREE projects called Quilting Editions that is supposed to start today on the Quilting Tizzy blog. Here is the list of supplies that you’ll need. Sheryl will give us two sets of instructions each month and showed four different projects that she’ll be sharing with us. I can’t wait to get to project #4 because that one has a teapot on it. As of this posting the instructions weren’t up yet but be patient. She has lots of critters vying for her attention, not to mention family and life in general. Just keep checking back until you see the instructions pop up. You could always subscribe to her blog which will prevent you from missing anything important. These projects should be quite interesting and will no doubt make me a bit hungry for strawberries, one of my all-time favorites. Let the cutting, and sewing, begin!

And the Winners Are…

Sorry to be so long in announcing who won all the goodies from Saturday’s giveaway. Life just seems to keep happening and getting in the way of making the announcement. So, without further ado, here are the lucky winners and what they’ve won:

Ann B. – The Giving Quilt book and pin
Dana S. – The Giving Quilt pin
Cheryl E. – The Wedding Ring pin
Janet R. – The Wedding Ring pin
Hueisei – Sonoma Rose pin
Denise P. – Sonoma Rose pin

Congratulations! Thanks so much to all of you for letting me know which pre-cuts, if any, you prefer. I hadn’t even thought about the 2-1/2” mini charms making our sewing so much quicker. They are a bit pricier you know, so for those who’ve not used them yet you might want to weigh price vs. convenience when buying these. Then again, they’re so cute it’s almost impossible to resist them! I’ll be looking into getting more pre-cuts now that I know I don’t have to have a lot of supporting fabrics to go with them.

I won’t keep you long but did want to point out a blog you might want to check into if you’ve not done so already. Jenny at Elefantz is doing Monogram Monday and shares a new letter every Monday that you can use to make a sampler or individual items. The letter for today is “J” so you’ll have to do some catching up. She has several really nice designs for free that you’ll want to take advantage of as well.
Chinese Almond Bush
Looks like we get to enjoy some warm days for a while. I love sunshine! Victoria is ready to get a good tan and has already been mowing. We have tulips blooming along with our Chinese Almond bushes. I just saw a new sprig of it coming up in the side yard. How it got there is anyone’s guess. I’ll take it though. You’ll hear no complaints from me about self-planting plants, as long as they’re not weeds of course.

The Giving Quilt – Review and Giveaway

The Giving QuiltA few weeks back I was contacted by Mary Pomponio of Plume Books to see if I would be interested in doing a review of Jennifer Chiaverini’s book, The Giving Quilt which is to be released in paperback tomorrow (April 2). Obviously, my answer was YES! and I waited for the book to arrive.

While waiting, I debated on whether or not to read any of the many other books that Mrs. Chiaverini had written and decided against it. With this confession I have no doubt that you can’t believe that I, a quilt shop owner, have never read any of the Elm Creek Quilts books. I have collected several of them, probably at least 10, in hardback version but have never taken the time to read any of them. While I love books that carry on with familiar characters, I tend to prefer to start at the beginning and read the books in order. Since I’ve not had a chance to do this it’s not been done. So, rather than starting at the beginning of this series I decided to assume that I might not be the only quilty person out there who had never read an Elm Creek book and see if the book could stand alone without the benefit of having read any of the background information of the main characters. The book passed on this point with flying colors. If you happen to be one who has never read the Elm Creek series do not hesitate to pick up a copy of this book so that you too can begin your adventure into the lives of the Elm Creek Quilters.

In addition to some of the regular Elm Creek characters, the book focuses on the lives of five ladies who are attending a quilt camp sponsored by the Elm Creek Quilters. You get to learn “the rest of the story” so to speak about each of these ladies through flashbacks of the events in their lives that brought them together at camp. Through their stories, we are reminded that what may appear on one’s surface might be somewhat-to-greatly different than what lies underneath. I must admit that while I could identify with aspects in each of their lives, I don’t think I would be able to handle some of their situations quite as graciously as they do. If it is true that a writer puts much of themselves into their work, than I can only deduce that Mrs. Chiaverini is a very gracious and wise woman.

The timing of the review request was rather interesting. How? First off, the book starts with the Elm Creek ladies getting ready to host a quilt camp. We had just finished our third quilt camp, in as many months, just three days before Ms. Pomponio contacted me. Knowing what goes in to putting together a camp was not lost on me as I began reading the book. It did make me wish that I had a similar facility in which to host such a camp. The focus of the Elm Creek Quilters camp, called Quiltsgiving, was just that…giving. Sylvia asks at the beginning of camp, “Why do you give?” The answers were as varied as the quilters themselves. The quilts to be made that week were to be donated to Project Linus. The quilt design that the ladies learned to make there could then be used in their own community later on.

The second interesting aspect regarding timing was the cover of the book. The quilt shown there uses the same block that is in our first quarter Thimbleberries Club project. I didn’t realize until I read the book that the block is named Resolution Square. You learn something new every day!

While my preferred genre of reading is mysteries-I like the challenge of figuring out “who done it”-I did enjoy reading this book very much and do plan on starting at the beginning and reading those which came before. I know I have the first six books already which should be a good start and will have to see where the others that I have fall in the timeline. I just bought The Union Quilters in hardcover (don’t tell Victoria, she’s Confederate all the way!) while on vacation even though I knew it would be a while before I could get to it. Once a collector, always a collector; if it isn’t fabric it’s books and more…much, much more.

In addition to sending the book for me to read and review, Ms. Pomponio also sent a copy for me to give away on this blog. Plus, she graciously sent some beautiful quilt pins based on the books in the collection as well. I was thrilled to see that these pins were made by the company where we have gotten our charms and quilt pins the past several years, PinPeddlers. They do such wonderful work!

Wouldn’t you like to win? You have six opportunities to do so. Someone will win the book and a matching quilt pin, and five someones will each win a quilt pin. All I ask is that you leave a comment below. If you’d like, you’re welcome to answer a question that I’ve wanted to ask while you’re at it. I would be ever so grateful. The question is which of the pre-cuts, i.e. 2-1/2” strips, 5” squares, 10” squares, etc. do you buy most often? If you never buy pre-cuts please let me know that too. Do you buy them even if there are no supporting fabrics in the shop from which you are buying them? Just curious… You have until the end of our Spring Eggstravaganza to leave a comment. That would be by 5:00 p.m. CST on Saturday, April 6. Yes, we are having our loaded eggs this week so be sure to drop in for that. There’s a surprise in every egg!
Giving Quilt Pin Sonoma Rose PinWedding Quilt Pin

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