Heading to Houston

Does Pearl look a tad miffed in her stitched portrait? It’s likely because I’m once again leaving her behind. I’m off to Quilt Market. Photos and commentary to come!

(This amazing Pearl portrait was created from a photo by Codi and Alisa at Home Ec Workshop. Check out their shop window for lots of other critters, some nearly as cute as Pearl.)

Have Letterpress, Will Travel

Kyle in the Type Truck

Interviewing Kyle Durrie was a pleasure. She’s the proprietor of a Portland printing business, Power and Light Press, and is touring the country in a renovated 1982 Chevy step van equipped with letterpress equipment. (You can read her story on my Etsy post, here, and on her blog, here. The photos in this post are hers—she’s a fantastic photographer.)

Kyle is 31 and after talking with her I was in awe—because of her commitment to her craft and trade, her thoughtful answers to my questions, and simply because of what she’s doing. I learned about Kyle’s journey when she drove her Type Truck into Iowa City earlier this summer and parked it outside Home Ec Workshop (where proprietors Alisa and Codi kept her parking meter plugged while she printed with the crowds). It was a hot, hot day and I didn’t make it to the Type Truck—and have kicked myself ever since, but several of my UI Center for the Book friends met Kyle and printed with her and had great things to say about the experience. You can read about it on Kyle’s blog, here.

After hanging up the phone, I gushed about my conversation with Kyle to my husband, but I admit to one funny comment. I said that if one of our daughters had come to us and told us she was going to do this, my first reaction would be “No way! That’s crazy! It’s dangerous! You can’t possibly!” And yet here I was thinking Kyle was such an original thinker and so impressed with her willingness to put her life on hold for a year to pursue this experience. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, about fear, taking risks, and letting go. Thanks for that one, Kyle,  for reminding me that being a visionary isn’t just for people “out there,” but those in my own backyard.

Heading to Tahoe

I’m off on what has become an annual (year one and year two) Lake Tahoe retreat. It is with both excitement and fear that I leave—fear because there are plenty of undone things, but excitement because I’m actually going to sew for an extended period of time…can’t wait!

And I also can’t wait to see my quilting buddies, who are moving from the category of new acquaintances to longtime friends.

I spent last Saturday finishing up my witch blocks and can’t wait to see what the others have come up with. I’ll share them with you soon! Have a great week.

Outfitting Babies for the Best Life Has to Offer: Reading and Eating

Cotton fronts

There’s nothing better to celebrate than the birth of a new baby, and no better gift than a quilt. But in reality, I often don’t have time to get a quilt done for every new bambino—Paul and I are lucky to be surrounded by young folk who keep on popping them out. We get to hold them, and oooh and aaaah over them, and then hand them back when they’re crying. Best of all possible worlds!

Although I can’t quite get a quilt done for every baby, I still like to make a little something. And so my go-to gifts these days are some of our favorite baby books, accompanied by a couple of bibs. I typically make one side of quilting cotton, and one side of flannel for soft face wiping. I add a little rickrack, impractical but too zippy to resist. I’m hoping to get a slew of these stitched up on my upcoming retreat.

Flannel backs

As for books, we typically give those that were our daughter’s favorites, including The Snowy Day and Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats, Dr. DeSoto and The Amazing Bone and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Stieg, Noisy Nora (a great rhythm for reading aloud) by Rosemary Wells, Blueberries for Sal (kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk) by Robert McCloskey, and Bill and Pete by Tommie DePaola.

There are so many great books for babies and toddlers—what are some of your favorites, old or new?

A Gift from a Quilter

Friday afternoon I attended the funeral of a quilter. S. was unbelievably talented, particularly with appliqué. Years ago, decades really, I took an appliqué class from her and while appliqué didn’t really stick, it’s one of those things I have on my “when-I-retire” list (as in, “when I retire I’ll alphabetize all my spices, finally read War and Peace and Moby Dick, and learn to appliqué really, really well.”) It intimidates me.

But S. never intimidated me. There wasn’t a kinder, more self-effacing soul around…her workmanship and color sense were exquisite, but she’d act as though her quilts were just any old thing, in a way that made you laugh, both because she laughed all the time, and because you knew her quilts were really something special. In the program from her funeral was a paragraph she’d written about her quilting, and one line in particular struck me as so true—”Indeed, it is the this initimate relationship between the quilter and the cloth—the needling and holding of the fabric—that makes quilting a uniquely personal art form.”

I want to share a poem that was read at her funeral—there were two, and both by Czeslaw Milosz. The first was “Encounter.” The second is reproduced below. Thanks once again, S., for sharing a glimpse of something beautiful.

Gift (1971)

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early.
I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping
Over the honeysuckle flowers.

There was no thing on earth
I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.

Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.

In my body, I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.