Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Back in the Quilting Saddle

May, JuneJulyAugust, September.  Wow. That middle part was all a whirl!
Yes, we did move "on time" and arrived in Belfast, Maine shortly after Memorial Day.  We looked at houses the day after we arrived and put an offer on one that very afternoon.  By the next afternoon, we had the contract!  We closed on the house about three weeks later and the movers (from Michigan) arrived the very next morning. It seems as though movers have jets on their trucks. They get to their destination so quickly. (Note: we had been watching the real estate listings all winter, so we knew pretty much which houses we wanted to see.  Also, our buyer's agent had been in communication with us throughout, so he also knew and had everything lined up.  The house we bought was at the top of our list.)

Once we were in the house, our time was spent unearthing our stuff from all the boxes.  We did it slowly, so there has been almost no need to re-arrange things.  We did have to paint the living room, put shelves in a linen closet and in the bathroom. And of course, we set up the quilting studio.  This space may be evolving a bit more, as I do need to find a good work table,  but I now have space for a large quilting frame.  I set it up yesterday, but now am waiting until the roofers finish all their pounding before I spend more time in there.  House and studio pics will come in another posting.

For at least 17 years BQ (Before [I began] Quilting) an old quilt hung on my living room wall.  The quilt had been found in one of the grandmother's trunks. It had no known history, and she wasn't a quilter.  It was made from silk neckties and brocades and was a vibrant mix of colors.  Given my ignorance of the care for old fabrics, especially silk, the long exposure to daylight faded much of the colors and many of the silk pieces were crumbling when I took it off the wall and packed it away in a pillow case.  I have looked for a photo of it when it was in good shape, but I can't locate one.  The photo below shows it as it looks now.

faded silk quilt

Believe it or not, the block is a 60-degree diamond, pieced with random strips in log cabin fashion. The black angles, which meet in the rectangles, make it difficult to see the actual block.

60-degree diamond

The block and the resulting pattern has always intrigued me. Last October at the last Beaver Island Quilt Retreat, I began an attempt to recreate the pattern. I decided to use my shot cottons, mixed with plaids, dots, and stripes.  I cut muslin templates of the 60 degree diamond so I'd have consistency in the final size. All the strips were sewn on to the muslin, log cabin style,  beginning with the red scraps in the middle.  Sounds easy, but I got so confused as I was piecing. I was trying to achieve a herringbone look within the block. Most of the time I would get one side ok and the opposite end just wouldn't work out.  Consequently, I finished  far fewer blocks than I had anticipated at the retreat.  I sort of liked my work, but wasn't too excited about it.  It seemed too busy and I had perhaps too small of a sample to handle the busyness.

Gwen Marston and me, with my work on the wall

It is amazing  when one steps away from problems for a bit that a solution becomes apparent.  I put this project away and didn't look at it again until I established my studio here in Belfast.
I decided I needed to calm the piece down.  So I made semi-monochromatic green blocks and tried them out. I chose green because almost all the blocks I had made had a touch of green, and it is the complement to the orangey-red/pinks, too.  I sent photos to two good friends, Elisa and Jean, and they sent me their comments. (Thanks !)
Here are some of my arrangements and then the final trimmed down piece.


Now, this will sit on the shelf while I contemplate the quilting pattern... and hopefully I will come up with a good idea.  In the meantime, I am happy to be back in the saddle.


  1. Truly beautiful -loved reading through your process!!

    P.s. welcome back ...

  2. oh I love that silk quilt top - completely understand putting that up on a wall and enjoying it every day. I totally did not see those black rectangles in the original even after you pointed them out. Love them. love your blocks, love your top, fantastic. gorgeous. congrats on the house! I've got one I'm trying to sell in MD - hoping we get an offer soon.

  3. Congratulations on your move, and for getting your quilting studio up and running again. Fabulous quilt!! I like all of your arrangements, but the one you picked is just perfect.

  4. So glad to learn about your life again! I really like that quilt.

  5. Excellent! And so different from the original.

  6. LOVE the final quilt! Of course, I am always a fan of that shade of green…missing BIQR this year, but, spending some extra time in our cabin in PA. Glad your move went smoothly and you are quilting again!

  7. SO glad you decided to honor the old quilt with a new version! What an amazing block design! Your quilt will be beautiful. Love the acidy greens!


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