Monday, November 30, 2009

An Abundance of Doll Quilts

I've always known that I had an abundance of fabric, no secret. But quilts? I've never really felt I had made very many since I haven't been quilting for very long. I look at what some quilters have accomplished and the number of quilts made and I'm amazed. When I lecture to quilt guilds, I bring many of my little quilts with me for show & tell. As I was packing them into suitcases for a couple of lectures last month, I realized I needed TWO suitcases to hold them all, so I scaled back and packed only enough to fill one suitcase. Then it hit me--exactly how many darn little quilts have I made in the last few years?? I never actually counted.

There are patterns for 32 little quilts in my three published books (plus 8 that are almost finished for the new book--40). If you count the copies of some of these quilts I've made for trunk shows over the years, that brings it up to about 60.

Then there are the quilts I've made just for fun or for friends--at least 10--plus small quilts for the challenges on my yahoo group (SmallQuiltTalk) and for a couple of magazines or published in places outside of my books.

I also can't forget the little quilts I made before I began designing patterns (although sometimes I'd like to, LOL. Don't look too closely)--there are about 15 of those. Grand total? I've made over 90!!  Wow, that's a lot of doll quilts. I can hardly believe it's that many. Except for a few, they're all hand quilted, too.

Counting them made me feel better--sometimes I really don't feel as prolific as I'd like about cranking out new patterns. I'm always getting asked what's next, what's next? I'd love to put up a few new patterns every month on my website but, ahhh, life gets in the way. I have TONS of ideas, just not enough time or hands to get them all done.

So I guess I have been a "little" busy. Doll quilts count just as much as large quilts, right? In the years since I first began making them, quilters have become crazy for doll quilts and it seems like everybody has one or two or three in the works these days. How many little quilts are YOU making now? Don't worry, it's not a contest. I'm just wondering if others out there are as addicted as I am. Count 'em and you'll see. You just might surprise yourself.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Count Your Blessings

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.   ~Meister Eckhart

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.        ~H.U. Westermayer

Thou hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, a grateful heart.   ~George Herbert

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. ~E.P. Powell

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Other Quilt Show with THAT Quilt

In the last post I talked about attending a quilt show that featured mostly contemporary quilts and other fiber arts. The next day I attended another show, put on by the Northwest Suburban Quilters Guild of Illinois, that was as different from that one as could be.

Pieceful Gathering Quilt Shop was vending at this show and Carrie, the owner, is always so nice about displaying my books and quilts at her booth. She even has a whole page on her website devoted to kits for quilts from my books, the "Kathleen Tracy Doll Quilts" page, LOL. You can find kits for both of the quilts I show below at her online store.

Here's her version of my little Lincoln's Platform quilt from Remembering Adelia. I like the way it turned out and I think I actually like HER border better than mine.

This is the Calico Comfort nine-patch quilt from the same book.

I met  Dorothy  from Ewe-nique creations and admired her lovely wool Block-of-the-Month Crazy Quilt. I've never been a crazy quilt fan, but lately some have been thrown my way, and you know what? I actually like them now.

This is the little crazy quilt I made that's in my book American Doll Quilts:

Most of the quilts at the show were very traditional and I loved the ones made with reproduction fabrics from the 19th century.

Madelyn, from my SmallQuiltTalk group, made this sampler and the little one below it:

But this is the quilt that stopped everyone in their tracks. A "Dear Jane" quilt made by Shar Snellman:

If you're at all interested in quilt history or quilts made during the Civil War, you probably have heard of the Dear Jane quilt from 1863 made by one Jane Stickle. It is actually dated and signed: In War Time 1863 Pieces 5602 Jane A. Stickle. There are 225 different blocks and it's really an incredible quilt. It's assumed that Jane made the quilt with so many little pieces to occupy herself during the Civil War and, like many women with loved ones in the war, to take her mind off of the anxieties and worries she may have been experiencing. Here's the original, which resides in the Bennington Museum in Vermont:


Brenda Papadakis spent five years researching and documenting Jane Stickle's quilt. In her book, Dear Jane, she tried to reproduce each block as accurately as possible. There are Dear Jane enthusiasts all over the country and other parts of the world making Dear Jane quilts in all sorts of versions. Some try to reproduce Jane's quilt faithfully using the same colors and Civil War fabrics and some make the blocks using contemporary fabrics.

I can see why so many quilters are in love with this fabulous quilt. It's the ultimate sampler quilt, every block unique.  Making a quilt like this would be a BIG commitment, but then I could actually step back and say “Wow, I made this." I've been toying with the idea of starting one for quite awhile and seeing Shar's finished quilt motivated me again. I'm going to do it. Madelyn said it took her 10 years to finish her quilt--it's almost done. What else am I doing in the next 10 years?? If I make one block a week and stick to it . . . maybe it would take me 5 years at the earliest? More likely 15 . . . but that's ok. I'll just make it one of my lifetime goals.

Shar said it took her 4 years to make hers and I can't imagine the work she put into it. But look at that smile now that it's finished!

Right now I have to concentrate on finishing my next book, but after that, in the Spring and Summer, who knows? Can I do this? Am I nuts? Has anyone else finished one and do you have any advice for me? Stay tuned for my excellent quilting journey next year. Unless I chicken out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two Quilt Shows in One Weekend!

The weekend before last I attended 2 quilt shows, each as different as night and day. The first one, The Fine Art of Fiber, was held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, one of my favorite stomping grounds (literally--I walk there all the time). The gardens were a lovely backdrop for this unique show that was hosted by Illinois Quilters, Inc., North Suburban NeedleArts Guild, and the Weavers Guild of the North Shore.

The show featured more than 150 pieces, including quilts, various types of needle arts, knitting, weaving, wearable art, dolls, and jewelry. There were also vendor booths selling a variety of quilted, woven and knitted items. What I love about this show--I attend every year--is that the quilts featured are so very different from the type of quilts I make--most are modern, bright, versatile and completely non-traditional. There were a few traditional quilts thrown into the mix, but the fun part is seeing just how creative some of the quilters get with color and fiber.

This is a  really neat I Spy quilt, with the smallest pictures I've ever seen. If I had one of these to look at every day, I'll bet it would keep my brain active and I'd start remembering more . . .

Here I am in front of one of my favorite quilts, wearing a really fake smile, I don't know why. Ingrid told me to say "CHEESE" and I listened to her. After I got home and looked at the photos I decided I was probably drawn to it because it matched what I was wearing! I really do love red and blue . . . .

Here are a few more of my favorite quilts:

Can you believe the quilting on this one?? It was a rather small quilt too.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this quilt!

Here's Ingrid standing in front of one of HER favorite quilts (she thinks now that I do a little applique I'm going to make one of these for her someday. I told her uh-huh, SOMEDAY):

I wanted to buy this beautiful woven jacket, but it cost $465.00 . . . .

I really want to learn how to knit before I have grandchildren--but hopefully that won't happen any time soon. Isn't this little sweater sweet?

That's it for now. Check back later this week.  Next post:  What I saw at the other quilt show that helped me come to a BIG decision I've been toying with for awhile.