Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's About Time!

“Well, it’s about time,” I hear you muttering at your computer screens. “You’ve been taunting us with photos of that same red and green quilt since before Christmas!” Quite true… so with apologies for what may now be an anticlimactic reveal, let me tell you all about it.

I made this quilt at my first Gwen Marston Beaver Island Quilt Retreat in 1997. Gwen's topic that year was Four-Block Quilts. I brought along four Oak Leaf & Reel blocks I'd made ahead of time so that during the workshop, I could focus on design and assembly. Much of what Gwen taught is outlined in her subsequent book, Classic Four-Block Applique Quilts: A Back-To-Basics Approach.

My blocks are framed with appliquéd dogtooth and vine and berry borders. As Gwen instructed, instead of having borders elegantly turn the corners as they traditionally would in a medallion format, mine are unresolved, marching boldly off the edge of the quilt in a far more casual manner.

I can’t tell you how challenging this was for me. My quilting style back then was as stiff and formal as those Oak Leaf blocks, and even though Gwen assured us there was historical precedence for this treatment in many antique quilts, the technique just rubbed me the wrong way!

So did some of Gwen's sewing methods. If you look carefully, you might notice that while leaves and berries are appliquéd by hand, the vine itself is top stitched by machine. “What will people think?” I worried. “They’ll call me lazy for combining hand and machine appliqué in the same quilt!”

But you know what? I have yet to hear a critical peep out of anyone. Little by little, I’ve embraced Gwen’s relaxed, no nonsense approach to quilt making. The few quirks in this quilt that used to annoy me, now make me proud of my personal growth as a quilter. It’s about time!

Oak Leaf and Reel 
30" x 30"
hand appliquéd, hand quilted
© Diane Burdin, 2000

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Doesn't Kill You

A telephone call in the middle of the night is seldom good news. As our phone rang early last Thursday morning, I said a few quick prayers for the wellbeing of family and friends. It’s amazing how much bargaining with God one can do between ring tones.

My husband answered to hear, “… police calling… small furnace fire… parents taken to hospital… smoke inhalation… but they’re okay!”

During the night while my parents slept, their furnace caught fire, sending acrid black smoke throughout the house. What woke my mom was the carbon monoxide detector (GET ONE). Dad proved harder to awaken since he is hard of hearing. They managed to call 911 (on the portable phone we recently installed , so they’d always have one within reach). In spite of Mom’s physical disabilities and Dad’s disorientation because of the smoke, the firemen got them out of the house in record time.

We are blessed that they managed to escape with only smoke inhalation. Restoration of their home, their self confidence and their day to day routine will take time. For now, much of the coordination between insurance company and contractors is falling on us "kids." Let’s hope the adage is true, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy New Year?

I hope that 2009 has started well for you ~ not so much here.

Let’s see, where was I when I last posted over three weeks ago? Oh yeah, celebrating Christmas, when my biggest concern was whether or not would deliver my packages in time for the holiday.

The New Year delivered surprises of a different nature: medical issues, a family emergency, travel snafus, plumbing problems, and enough snow to complicate all of the above!

I’m not usually one to make New Year's resolutions. They seem pretty pointless when so much in my life is out of control. But something tells me, this year, I'm going to need the discipline of a goal, the daily reminder of a watchword, true resolve!