Tag Archives: Quilt

The Story of A Quilt

26 Dec

From a stack of library books, a quilt was inspired. The Celery Stick block from Marnie Buck and Jilly Guffy’s Quilt du Jour was supposed to quickly yield a nice big quilt top to build my machine quilting skills. Oh, well. Quilt and quick aren’t really two words that go together.

The Celery Stick block is easy to piece and scale up or down. Shopping my stash, deep night blues and yellows formed the color palette. Oh, yes, an Italian hilltop town at night could totally be an option. Many great memories of day trips to this northern Lazio town were reason to start strip cutting.

But what to quilt? After all, the whole purpose of this quilt is: 1) to play and enjoy the quilting process 2) to create a warm queen size bed cover 3) to be challenged. Then it occurred to me. I could quilt in the guild symbols of 18th Century Orvieto to build my skills.

Alanna Nelson Oriveto Quilt Inspiration Arte e Mestieri

Arte e Mestieri di Orvieto

The Guilds of Orvieto depict the reliance on textiles in 18th Century Orvieto’s economy. I remember the afternoon spent chatting with a gentleman who made terra cotta representations of these Guild mascots. I bought one as a gift. I wish I’d purchased more. So here is my quilt that is inspired by Oriveto which hung at the 2016 Rising Star Quilt Show

Vintner was one of the easier quilt shapes to dress.

Detail of the quilt top.

The Oriveto City Seal

Alanna Nelson Orvieto Quilt at Rising Star Quilters 2016 show

Orvieto as it hung at the RSQ show

Save

So think of me if you’re ever on vacation and you find you cannot sleep forever. I’m under this wonderful quilt with twinkling lights and wonderful wool batting.

Save

Save

Nika Feldman: Traveling with needle

18 Aug

While I may forget a comb or pajamas, it is rare that I hit the road without knitting or reading. On a recent overnight sail, I found myself in one of Gloucester’s book stores, looking for a quick read.

Leisurely deck reading of American Craft Nika Feldman

All magazines on deck!

Unwilling to commit myself to an entire book, I picked up the most recent American Craft magazine.  Nika Feldman, the subject of the August/September feature, is a woman after my own heart.  This woman travels, relates, communicates with a needle, thread and scissors. I always travel with knitting needles and yarn, eschewing quilting as less portable. How could that change?

Mulling over ways to bring quilting into my travels, I realize that a sketchbook and pencil fell of my travel packing list. Ten years ago, these tools lived in my purse. The arrival of the iPhone pushed it out of my bag. It was too easy to snap a photo, and my purse was lighter, smaller. Sketching should re enter my daily habits and most definitely return to my travel packing list.  Shouldn’t everyone draw?

At one time, drawing was a skill crucial to education. Travel journals consisted of words, sketches, watercolors. Of course, at this point, I always turn to Isabella Stuart Gardner’s travel journals. As she neared the end of her life, Isabella burned her letters, but chose to keep her travel journals. How do you remember your travels? Selfies? T shirts? Art? Magnets? Post cards or other ephemera? Matchbooks, coasters or cocktail napkins?

Would drawing change your relationship with the place? Clearly, traveling with a needle, scissors and thread completely frames Feldman’s work. She has the benefit of time on her side… no quick sailing trips to Gloucester… but your travel experience would definitely change if you drew or stitched.

So much for deckside knitting comtemplation.

Cowabunga II

17 Feb

Despite subzero temperatures last weekend, we stayed quite warm under Cowabunga II: Feline Party Wave.ccII_full

Do you remember that surfing cat fabric I picked up last year at City Quilter? Bought to create Kowabunga Karina? Well, I took apart the second baby quilt top and starting piecing, playing and procrastinating, pushing my blue hand dye fabric collection to the brink and completed an 80″ x 90″ top (actually, I had to go buy additional border fabric… nothing appropriate left in stash). There was a stash of wool batting. How lovely, light and cozy this quilt feels.

ccII_statler

The Statler did most of the quilting, as I mentioned in my January round up. I trimmed out sections where I quilted in these haikus:

Stoked for dawn patrol; A glorious green room glide; feline party wave.

Gnarly offshore winds; Pop up and grab the back door; Just carve it, kitty

Inspired by the 60 degree angle of the surfing cat fabric, improvisational equilateral triangles fill most of the quilt top  (I realize now that my hub was holding the quilt upside down). Never mind, the quilt is done and on my bed. It’s the first quilt I’ve made for our bed in many years of quilting. After all, most of my quilts are destined for the wall these days. And before that, the beds that needed quilts were doubles and twins.

With the scraps, haikus and momentum still left, there will be a Cowabunga III.
ccII_back

Remind me NEVER to think it’s a great idea to sew a back together on the bias. Throughout this process, I realize that I have lots of enthusiasm and ideas. Part of my process is whittling down this fire hose of loose thoughts and prioritize. What is really worth the time, energy and materials for the impact? I spent a lot of time putting the back together. Fabric was chopped up quite unnecessarily for little final contribution to the quilt.

Quilting is going in the back seat again… as I mentioned, the MHK3 comments came back quickly and there is a tam on my horizon.

How begin 2016? With whichever craft I please!

14 Jan

Blocks of quilting, knitting, mending, drawing and dreaming frame the early days of 2016.

Alanna Nelson knit Boston

One Sunday afternoon to do list.

Soon I’ll finish the second quilt in the Cowabunga Cat series. This one kind of got away from me. Originally, the second surfing cat quilt would also be a baby blanket. After the first, I felt like the fabric needed more room to breathe. So I unsewed the top and placed the large isosceles triangles in a larger setting…. try queen size. The top is still pretty busy…. but I can definitely see waves of surfing cats moving through the tube.

Although I said I’d never use a Statler Stitcher on my quilts after Karina Kowabunga, Laurena’s Longarm Quilting now has several of the Anita Shackleford Modern packages available for the computer guided quilting machine. “Modern Paisley” seemed the perfect choice for this surfing cat quilt.

Alanna Nelson Statler Stitcher quilting Modern Paisley

Anita Shackleford Modern Paisley Digital Quilting Design

Trimming out portions of the pattern, changing height and other diddly choices means I’ll spend more than 8 hours quilting the 81″ x 90″ top. Over the autumn, I wrote several little haikus about surfing cats, two of which I’m quilting into the top. I’ve got some leftover fabric and a few more haikus… a third quilt in the offing? While these projects weren’t even on my horizon in January 2015, it’s been a fun little hike.

Already the pull of the 2016 quilt diversion dots my day dreams: Quilt du Jour by Marni Buck and Jill Guffy.

Quilts 2016 by Alanna Nelson

Quilts du Jour by Marny Buck & Jill Guffy

Plucked from the library just before Christmas (along with Margaret Radcliffe’s completely approachable and useful Knowledgeable Knitter), the simple blocks have lots of opportunities to play. We could use a few more large quilts at home. I’ve signed up for studio blocks as a subscriber at Laurena’s through the summer. With only two large WIPS destined for machine quilting, I do need to look at stash and play with possibilities.

Ah, how pleasant it is to just jump into whichever craft calls me today! Random craft choice won’t last much more: we’re leading a Knit a Long for the Aidez cardigan at Sit and Knit. Who knows what 2016 will bring?

Karina Kowabunga! Quilt

31 Jul

Remember that surfing cat fabric I purchased last winter? Improvisational piecing resulted in a couple of quilt tops with coordinating Cherrywood gradient packs. Despite the fact my to do list is 8 miles long today, I went to Laurena’s to use the Statler Stitcher.

Of course, I didn’t want to do things simply. Mixing two quilt patterns and trimming the motifs made the process much longer. After finishing the project, I decided I wouldn’t probably use the Statler on my quilts again. Ok, maybe if I designed the quilting motif and let the Statler do the stitching. There’s a time and place for everything, so I’m sure I’ll rent the Statler again. Overall, I’d rather move the longarm rather than letting the computer do that work. However, the quality of stitching was spectacular… such perfection.

When I got home, I laid it on the floor to really look at the trimmed piece. Immediately, fluffy feline placed her paw of approval.

Can you imagine surfing ginger cats in this quilt?

Can you imagine surfing ginger cats in this quilt?

Karina Kowabunga will have an orange sherbet binding then zipped out to a sweet pea I love.

The second quilt top will be dissected and placed into a larger setting. All of that action needs more space. I wonder what will happen next as the improv piecing becomes more thoughtful?

Road Trip: Quilt National 2015

18 Jun

Ohio may not be everyone’s ultimate summer destination, but I’ve always wanted to visit a Quilt National at the Dairy Barn in Athens. This juried biennial exhibit reflects cutting edge art quilts from around the world. Videos where the artists talk about their work are available on the Dairy Barn YouTube channel sharpen my anticipation.

In true Tactile Travel style, I’m researching good food, cultural history and interesting shopping. Do you have any suggestions?

Surfing Cats at City Quilter

20 Feb

It may be the last day of New York Fashion Week, but my schedule includes work, lunch, shopping and a show. No runways for me! With the weather and wind VERY brisk, I’ve actually taken the Metro. Normally, walking is an integral aspect of the Manhattan experience. How else can you get a feel of the city?

I don’t need quilting fabric, but a visit to City Quilter finally happened. For one who has seen MANY quilt shops, let me just say that this quilt shop curates a very fun selection of cottons. Once my eyes caught this fabric, the wave of “MUST HAVE” rolled over me.Alanna Nelson quilts surfing cats

Surfing cats from Riley Blake Designs. This will be a fun baby quilt back. It seemed only natural to grab a selection of Cherrywood gradations to match the colors.

What a great way to warm up a cold winter day!

Hanging at Original Sewing Expo SAQA booth

9 Apr

It’s another one of those ridiculous weekends when there’s not enough time for all the great exhibits going on in New England. So spoiled to bask in the plethora of textile wonder, my weekend will actually start on Thursday, April 10 at the Original Sewing Expo in Worcester. Find me at the Studio Art Quilt Associates booth at the beginning of the day.

Of course, it’s time for the Machine Quilters Expo… an event I’ve never actually been to, but I can count on Laurena and other Rising Star Quilters to fill me in.

If you haven’t yet seen the New England Quilt Museum’s  exhibit of the 2012 Nihon Japan winning quilts… run!  The show closes this weekend.  I was so pleased to see my friend Teresa Gai‘s quilt there.

As I test my hat pattern and proof my Master Knitter Portfolio, my thoughts turn back to quilting. Walking at Breakheart Reservation last weekend, I loved the black and white lines contrasting with the blue sky and the winding path. Possibilities…..

Alanna Nelson SAQA Art Quilts at Original Sewing Expo

Civita II Mini Raffle Quilt

19 Nov Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy

In northern Lazio, there is a hilltop that Rick Steves essentially saved from washing away, both figuratively and literally. Civita di Bagnoregio  was the birthplace of St Bonaventure, but the gritty volcanic tuff and earthquakes eroded the sides and summit of this bluff. Until Rick Steves waxed on about it in the early 1990’s, it seemed destined to disintegration.

Civita di Bagnoregio, ItalyAbout 10 days before the Rising Star Quilt Show, members received an email with new ways they could support the show. I’d never made a 12×12″ mini quilt for the raffle, so why not?

In 2010, I made an 8×10″ quilt based on a drawing I did of this hilltop town. About 75 pieces were pieced together, which was quite enjoyable, and I wanted to take this and play with the basic image. Could I create a simple quilt and finish in time? As Tim Gunn says, “Make it work.”

The mini quilt had 4 different fabrics, 3 of them hand dyed/painted pieces from my stash. I outlined buildings with machine quilting, but that left the windows. What to do? I would love to capture the way shadows hit the space, and I would love to finish this quilt before Friday afternoon!

In comes the October speaker for the Rising Star Quilt Guild, Jane Davila, who not only spoke but brought many goodies for textile artists.  I picked up a couple of nail-polish-bottle looking bottles of accent ink from Smooch. Obviously, I have a lot to learn about using these inks, but when the time and simplicity are paramount, it worked.

Civita Quilt by Alanna Nelson
I wasn’t at the show on Saturday (ehem, it was the best day of the last weekend of sailing season), but I heard it attracted a bunch of tickets. Best wishes to whoever won!

Rising Star Quilters Show 2014

17 Oct Rising Star Quilters Show Raffle Quilt MA 2013

October 26 – 27, 2014

Amble on over to Cary Hall in Lexington, MA for the Rising Star Quilters Guild for eye popping quilts, a boutique of hand made items, raffles and scavenger hunts.   Truly something for everyone, quilt fiend or not!

Rising Star Quilters Show Raffle Quilt MA 2013

Autumnal Stars is the large raffle quilt at the 2013 RSQ Show


I’m donating a mini quilt for our raffle inspired by a hillside town in Italy. You can also see my contribution to the “Two by Two” challenge (photos up next week, I hope!) Hope to see you there!