Slow Down

lilacvase

My children are all off to school for the last day of the 2015-16 school year.  I hear lawnmowers and birdsong through my open windows, and this morning I took a tour of my peonies to check on their progress.  They are so beautiful at every stage.

I wrote a few weeks ago that spring, more than the other seasons, reminds me to slow down and live in the moment.  Last night as our family played games together in the backyard, I looked around and felt so content.  We were together, with no urgent to-do list breathing down our necks.  It felt SO good.  It’s been interesting to watch the end of year stress begin to lift and dissipate, allowing for some unscheduled naps and creative play.  It makes me happy.  I am so ready for this.

In my mind, they’re walking through the door today to stay.  Mine for the summer.  Except it really isn’t the case anymore.  There will be the flurry of end-of-year parties, followed closely by soccer tryouts and the ongoing soccer and football practices that we’ve planned the summer around.  My teenagers will spend much of their time elsewhere with friends, we’ll be off to reunions and vacations and hosting guests when they’re in town.  We have a surgery scheduled.  Birthdays, holidays, tournaments, and the day to day work of ten people in the house.  It’s a different brand of busy, and I want to slow it down.

I want to bottle my six year old in all her first grade, precious stage.  I want her voice to stay just as it is, especially when she reads to me.  I want to hear my seventeen year old daughter’s daily reports on life forever.  I want to memorize all of them as they are right now.  Oh, we mothers have so much to keep and ponder in our hearts!  I want this summer to nourish and bless each of them in their development.  Today it feels like we have an endless supply of golden days stretching out in front of us, but really it will be gone as fast as my lilacs and peonies.

Today I have a growing prayer in my heart for wisdom, strength, and enthusiasm to be the mother they deserve, to navigate the days and weeks purposefully, and especially to slow down and enjoy it.  To smell ALL the flowers.  Read good books.  Play in the sun.  Get enough sleep.  Be happy.  Love.

Happy summer to all of us.

Kathy Doughty’s Modern Patchwork Class, part I

Last week I attended a two day quilting workshop taught by the incomparable Kathy Doughty, owner of Material Obsession, author of several books, and one of the best teachers of her craft that I’ve encountered so far.

Kristen_Kathy_me

The workshop was sponsored by Utah County Modern Quilt Group, Broadbent’s Quilt Shop, and Quilt Bliss.  Everyone who planned and prepared for the event did an outstanding job.  I loved every minute of being there, spending time with friends, time with my sister, and the opportunity to learn from Kathy (without having to take an international trip) was worth every penny.

Kathy_soulsearchingquilt

Kathy generously shared her story, particularly her quilting journey, and there was so much to glean from all that she said.  Little things like “work within your stash” and “find what makes the fabric you love a hero” and “stay in the quilt, don’t finish in a rush”.  She described working within colors as “stepping in and out of your colors” and spoke about how the starting point in a quilt can be just about anything: a color, a fabric, a design, or something else, but often she ends up in a different place than she thought she would.  She started with the quilt above, aptly titled “soul searching.”  What a great starting point.  I have definitely come to associate quilting with soul searching, and I learned to do more of that searching thanks to Kathy’s lectures and teaching.

Kathy_teaching

In my own quilting journey, I feel like I’m approaching a crossroads of sorts.  The paths blend a little at present, but I see a new direction up ahead.  I have spent years learning from patterns, from fabric, from all sorts of people as I’ve sewn quilts from patterns I purchased with fabric I chose. There are still a number of these quilts in my future.  I want to finish what I’ve started, use more of my stash, and learn a little more from all these designers.  But what I really want, what is up ahead, is a more consistent, committed effort to find my own voice and discover how to make with what is inside of me.

Kathy helped me see how I can begin (or, perhaps, continue) that journey.  I decided to embrace the opportunity, and on the first day I opted not to choose from the patterns in her books, but to just dive in with no particular design in mind.  My starting point ended up being this awesome Japanese crane fabric and a jewel shape, using Anna Maria Horner’s Fibs and Fables collection to build on that.

cranefabric

At the end of the day, my progress looked like this:

my_project

I found that I didn’t move as fast as usual because I was standing back, thinking, looking, auditioning fabrics and ideas.  Kathy generously paused several times to ask me questions, let me ask her questions about what I was doing, and help me see my fabric through her eyes.  By dinnertime I had a headache and felt more exhausted than usual, but when I climbed into bed that night hoping to sleep, I couldn’t.  I ended up thinking about my project all night long!

I was amazed by how many quilts Kathy and her husband, John, brought with them from Australia.  Standing in person before quilts I’ve long admired in her books was such a treat!  A few favorites from the first day:

Kathy_ikatdiamondsquilt

I have loved this Ikat Diamond pattern since I first saw photos of it.  Such a gorgeous quilt, with the shot cottons, rare fabrics, beautiful contrast, and Kathy’s lovely hand quilting.  I kept staring at it throughout the day.  It really inspires me.

Kathy_mostlymanorquilt

This quilt using Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s first collection, Mostly Manor, caught my eye for a couple of reasons.  I have a bit of this fabric and am excited to sew with it, and I love the combinations within the blocks, combined with the scrappy diamond border.  I thought that her addition of a calmer, more monochromatic plaid as a background was really interesting and definitely not something I would have thought of.  It’s also not a blue I would have picked to compliment all the brights in this range, but it totally works and I find that really interesting.  Super fun!

Kathy_diamonddolliesquilt

This Diamond Dollies quilt really captured my imagination.  It’s so cleverly made, and the little girls on it are darling.  I love this use of color and large scale prints in the setting triangles and sashing.  I don’t know that I would have had the courage to use those black dots as sashing, but now I want to be brave and try something this bold.

Kathy_dolliesblocks

Seriously, so cute!  I’ve got to make one of these quilts!

There’s my quick review of the first day of instruction.  Ironically, I didn’t even turn on my sewing machine!  The interesting thing is, I’m still thinking about all of it.  My project is up on a design wall at home and I pause daily to look at it and explore options.  I think I know what I’ll do next, but I’ve had to detour back to other projects with deadlines and we have to push through the last week of school before I can really let myself explore.  I did start a couple of other projects during the second day of instruction, and I’m excited to share more soon!

Jennifer

Anchor’s Aweigh Quilt

Anchorquilt1

I saved it for a trip to the beach.

This quilt has been finished for months, but I could only photograph it in my favorite place.

Anchorquilt2

For obvious reasons, I would think!

I love this quilt.  I love all the quilts I make, and every time I finish one, I think I *might* love it best.  But this one is special.  All my life, trips to the beach have been precious to me.  It’s a place where I feel more whole than I do anywhere else.  As a missionary I fell in love with the Puget Sound, with water and bridges and ships at anchor in harbors. With all of the colors that come with life near water.  All of it.  And though I live at the foot of the dramatic Wasatch Mountains, I’m a “by the sea” girl with all my heart.  And anchors?  Well, the analogy of anchors has ever been dear to me, and I’ve been blessed with some pretty secure anchors in my life.

My friend Xenia quilted this for me, and I’m so happy with her work.  As I requested, she quilted the rope winding around the anchor and alternating patterns in the colored stripes, much like the original Anchor’s Aweigh quilt by Tula Pink.

anchorquilting

I love the way Xenia quilted alternating patterns into the alternating white and aqua stripes in the background.  For the binding I used a navy rope print; it creates a subtle stripe look and continues the nautical feel of the quilt.

anchorbinding

It’s a really big quilt and I hope it will be one that we enjoy for many, many years.  The making of it was fun – my sister Kristen and I each made one at the same time.  There were hundreds of two inch squares to piece, but it was completely worth it.

anchorquilt3

I’m thrilled with my anchor!  Thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer

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