Monday, January 28, 2013

Why grey?

Truth be told, I did not intend to make another grey quilt. After all, I have one. It is spectacular. Big and complex with colors that glow. I need a quilt in bright jewel tones. Something to draw people into my booth at the Baltimore Craft Show--can you believe that it is coming in less than a month? February 22-24 to be precise.  (Do check it out at

Indeed I would wake up in the mornings thinking of lovely intensely blue quilts--the colors of the sky and the ocean. Full of dreams of water and light. Joyous quilts. Maybe a complex red quilt--now that would be a statement--wouldn't it? What about the colors of the rainbow again? A friend had even noted that she thought my work was looking too serious recently. "Was I OK?" she asked kindly.

I tried. I really did try to start such a quilt. But when I got to the studio. That day when I decided I just had to make the quilt to see what it looked like it. Well, you guessed it. I made the row that I knew. The one that I wanted to make. It just happened I guess.

Sure I would put a bit of light and color in the quilt. Notice that little promise I pinned up to check it out. And then I kept going.

Those deep rich greys were calling me again. Becoming more complex as the colors progressed. Wonderful rich navy. Hints of the warmth of the mauve. The sky as night progresses.

Why did I want to work in these colors again? What was it about them? Why was I drawn to these soft colors of slate and mist, mauve and taupe? Was it the trees in the winter? Their bark against the fallen leaves? Or the sky just before a snow storm? Those deep rich colors? Or just wanting to contrast these dark colors against clouds of light and promise?

 Indeed I am not sure there is even an answer. Does it even matter? Does this ever happen to you? Can you control the colors you work with? And when will I ever finish this quilt?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

mauve--can you define this color?

Oh the color mauve--what a love hate relationship I have with you? Yes, it is glorious--soft and elegant. Haunting. Reminds me of trees in November. The soft haze of hills in the distance with  just that touch of pink from the setting sun? Just hints of it in the colors of the clouds.

And yet, to define this color. What exactly is it?  I remember the first time I got an order for a quilt in the color mauve. Now this customer knew exactly what she wanted. But was it really mauve she wanted? Wasn't she thinking more of faded magenta with a hint of taupe. Colors can be so particular and so general at the same time. I used paint chips and fabric samples. Patience and photographs to match her room.

And that was when I learned that mauve was actually an invented color. An eighteen year old chemist. Indeed his biography was called Mauve--how cool is that. And then to make color more interesting, the dyes for the color mauve tended to fade so we now think of mauve as lighter than he did. You learn something new everyday don't you? Want to know more--check out this article on Wikipedia:

Now I have another order for a quilt in mauve.  One of my rolling hills. You may remember them--wall hangings and table runners that capture moments of time and space. Simple but complex at the same time. Here is one in blues and sunrise colors.

Yes, I can find lots of fabric in mauve but I also need colors to create the feeling of light and distance. Not too bright. The first attempt had too much orange and brown. But the quilt is not supposed to be lavender or purple--can't use too many blues. That would change its nature also. This is the hard part.

I go through and find a soft yellow. A few wonderful greys. I create the color palette. Not too bad--I tweak it a bit. Search for just a few other darker faded lavenders. Must make sure I don't get it too brown. This quilt should be haunting and magical.

I make the first piece. Does it work?


Maybe just a bit more light. A little more yellow. But soft and gentle. Not too busy.  I play some more. Keep piecing. I love that hint of soft apricot. Just a bit of warmth. That works, doesn't it?

Now I can't wait to finish it--two more blocks. Then sewing it together. I think this time I have caught the moment. Now I want to make another one. So lush, isn't it? Almost magical. Then maybe I should make one in taupe--there is even a color called mauve taupe. The possibilities are endless, aren't they?

And you--how do you work with mauve? What do you think of it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

the eagerness of dawn

There is something about dawn--that proverbial promise of the new day. The sun rises slowly and majestically. The sky lightens and the day begins. So cliched and yet also so powerful.

Now those who follow my blog know that one of my very favorite things to do in winter is to snowshoe up to the top of nearby Helicopter Hill and watch the sun rise. I  get my DH off to work--give him his toast--it is always "perfect"--and lunch. Drink just a bit of coffee and then put on my snowshoes and start off.  I know the trail well--up and down the mountain, through the brush and then it is just up to the top. Always changing a bit but always the same.

For me this is the subject of so many quilts. The drama of standing alone with the sky and watching these moments so fleeting and sure and yet each so very different.

Always I hurry--will I be late? The trail is almost routine--one foot in front of the next. Watch out for that rock. Interesting trails in the snow. Deer and coyote. Fox and turkey.  Plow through the brush--try not to slap myself in the face. I glance at the sky through the trees. Do I have time yet? Then up and up. Until finally I am at the top slightly out of breath. Warm from the exercise.

In the north the clouds are a lush rolling pink.

The valley ahead soft with the mist of the heat and snow. Rolling grey and blue. Mauve.

I concentrate on the sky where the sun will rise. As the season moves toward spring the sun rise moves along the mountains.

So many colors in the sky. At first dark and haunting. The moon just a crescent hanging above the scene. Too faint for my snapshots.

The yellows move into greens and teals. Again so subtle my camera does not catch it.

Then I see it. First the glow in the sky where the sun will rise.

Then the first hint of light. So quietly and surely it slips up. It is hard to pause in this drama to snap an image. I point and aim then watch again. Waiting silently.

Until finally that shining diamond of light.  Soon the light will glow on the trees.

The roses fade into the light. I turn for home. My mind is focused on my hot breakfast. Cheesey grits this morning. One of my favorites. Sunlight will be touching the house when I return.

Sometimes it is necessary to stop and absorb the moment, isn't it? Take a deep breath and just be in something so essential and known but also so individual and different. At least that is what I do. And you--what is essential to your soul?  Do you stop and watch the dawn?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

getting the grey right

Sometimes one quilt just leads to the next one. Sewing together my quilt trees, I kept wondering what would happen if.... Can I make another one in greys? Maple trees catching the sun, glowing against a dark almost ominous sky. Hmm. That could be interesting.

The grey sky almost pieces itself or that is how it feels. Sure I had to dig for some fabrics. Decide how many warm colors to include. How dark to make it. What other colors to add? Adding that wonderful dark mauve that is almost a grey. Hints of blue.

But now the landscape that will anchor the sky. I want a bit of light. Just that promise of gold lingering and reflecting off the maples. I pin up fabrics to get an estimate of the color that works.

OK--there is something haunting here. How to echo it in the piecing? I start--cut some fabric, start sewing. Sometimes the only way forward is forward.

 Well that didn't work--I don't want the ground to clash with the sky. No need to finish it. Let me try again.

Closer isn't it? But still a bit too bright. I can do better. The ground should be sultry. Complex but not competing with the sky and the maples. Let me see how this works.

Yes, that is great. Colors that will tell a story and still fit in with the gold of the maples. Enough grey to echo the sky but not clash.

Don't you love it when you can't wait to finish a quilt? Do you ever wish you could just sew more quickly? So hard to be patient when my mind is spinning with more colors, more quilts. Does this ever happen to you?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

it's 2013!!!

Dear all,

OK--I will try to avoid some of those cliches. You know, how quickly time passes. A retrospective on the year that just passed. Time to move forward. Make new resolutions. Set goals. I am sure you have heard them a lot during this time of year. One tradition that I had not heard before came from a daylily forum that I participate in. A gentleman from Pakistan--yes, apparently there are a number of daylily growers in Pakistan--daylilies in town squares, outside businesses, it must be lovely. But I digress. Anyhow, one year when he was visiting Japan he was invited to a FORGET THE YEAR party. Business associates, friends, relatives, whatever would get together just before the New Year and forgive all transgressions so that they started the New Year with a clean slate. What a nice tradition, isn't it? Worth thinking about.

And now to return to quilts. I hope that many of you got to see my article in the December January issue of Quilting Arts magazine. What an honor to be interviewed by Kristine. What a wonderful job she did asking me questions that I had not previously considered. Isn't that the mark of a good interviewer? And then I discuss how I am sewing those very thin strips that currently intrigue me. Worth checking out. And yes, I do have copies available in my studio.

Meanwhile I am working very hard getting ready for the Baltimore Fine Craft Show. Yes, it is in less than two months--February 22-24--at the Baltimore Convention Center. I just looked at the list of decorative fiber exhibitors and I confess I was blown away by the quality of exhibitors this year. I will be at booth 4208. My nose is to the grindstone and my fingers to the sewing machine as I try to make my booth stand out. Oh so much work to do. So many ideas for new quilts.  More on the show next month but if you want further information check out their web site:

And yes, I have started cleaning and organizing the studio. For those who can make it into Shelburne Falls, I do have several smaller "old favorites" on sale.  I may try to post some of them next month. And for everyone else--the quilt of the month is back. This time it is enchanted city. This was a quilt I made several years ago and was hanging in a gallery. I love the dimensions of this piece. So many different colors and such movement. It is about 40x40 inches. The quilt was priced at $1200 but for the next ten days--or until sold--it will be $750 plus shipping and any applicable taxes. So if you are interested.... This is just a snapshot that I took but it should give you a general idea.

Meanwhile do have a great New Year. Enjoy the return of the sun. And if you are in the Shelburne Falls area, I hope some of you will drop by to see me--I plan to be open most days unless the weather is bad.