Monday, October 28, 2013

Autumn Leaves

My Yahoo group Small Quilt Talk is making Maple Leaf quilts this month. I thought you would like to see what some of the members did with their beautiful blocks.

Made by Bonnie G.
Bronwyn made two!

Charlene's quilt

Karen's leaf blocks are mixed with signature blocks from members of the group.
Joanne's quilt

Quilt by Katy

Marian made hers for her little cloth doll . . .

Made by Kris

Robin's runner

Quilt made by Susan
All so creative and unique. It's not too late to make your own little leaf quilt. When Thanksgiving rolls around  you might be glad you did. Find the pattern for the little Maple Leaf block here.
Here's the one I made. I'm trying to get another one finished but not having too much luck so far. Just a little here and there. I thought I'd make it  with some appliqued leaves. Here's a peek -


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Autumn Is Good for the Soul

It's been very cool here in my area of northern Illinois. I love this time of year and become motivated to exercise more when it's cool outside. This morning I put on a warm fleece jacket instead of a sweatshirt to walk the dog. As the cold wind whipped against my face, it felt good to be alive. As soon as I started, I couldn't wait to finish and get home to my hot cup of coffee. But I pushed on.
I'm struggling with time management issues right now and have a long, long list of things I need to do this week. I immediately felt stressed thinking about them. Some of them, like cleaning the house, paying the bills, doctor appointments and a mammogram, are necessary and will not be fun. It seems like there will hardly be enough time for myself, or for quilting.
Last week while I was at the car dealer getting my oil changed I read something motivating in a magazine about changing your focus from negative to positive. As I walked, I forced myself to change my focus and started to count my blessings and think instead about things that really matter. Grateful that I could walk at all since I still have a painful foot thing going on if I walk too much or too fast, feeling sorry for myself, but remembering instead that old line about the man who had no feet . . . . finally reminding myself that it's feeling much better than it was earlier this year. Last week I told my athletic son I felt discouraged, it hurt to walk more than a mile or so, said maybe I should just give up, stop walking at all. His response? Maybe I should  try walking more, not less, LOL . . .
"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."  - Emily Bronte
I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
My mood seemed to lift and perhaps it was due to the fact that I was walking briskly and the blood flow to my brain improved. Or maybe something else. I'll have to remember to get out walking early in the days to come, before the weather gets too cold and I have to exercise indoors.
"Exercise, such as walking, increases the blood flow to the brain. A study of people over age 50 found that walking 45 minutes a day at a 16-minute mile pace improved thinking skills. The participants started at 15 minutes of walking and built up their time and speed. The result was that the same people were mentally sharper after taking up this walking program."  I could use some mental sharpness some days.
Walking and other exercise releases endorphins, the body's happy drugs. Walking at a rate to get your heart pumping will give you more of this benefit more than walking at a slower heart rate pace. But even at a slower pace you will notice an improvement in mood.
Walking outdoors gives me time to think and if I create a distance between me and my stress I feel better.  Breathing fresh air, trying not to tense your muscles and feeling the body move as you walk are natural stress-relievers. Of course, walking past this house a few blocks away always gets my blood boiling . . . . I am not fond of this part of Halloween . . .

I kept walking and tried to pay attention to other things - watched the dog romp around excitedly, enjoyed the leaves and trees, birds and sky. Push on, hot coffee waiting at home! Thanksgiving isn't the only time to feel grateful.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Coffee Cups Quilt Mystery Solved!

I had a great time in Michigan where I visited the Capitol City Quilters Guild for a presentation and workshop. The mystery of the coffee cups quilts? Turns out it was not that much of a "mystery" after all.
(Michigan is sure pretty in autumn! They had a lot more color than we have here in Illinois.)
I brought a photo of the quilt along with me and showed it after my presentation. Several members of the guild remembered working on it in 1988.  The quilt was a group effort and commissioned by the General Foods company, which was located in Battle Creek, Michigan. According to member Jan Gagliano, there was a record of it in the guild's history notes - 
"Coffee Cup Quilts:  Members agreed to make two Coffee Cup quilts for General Foods' quilt collection, each approximately 60"  x  60", one blue & white and one red & white, to be tied. $625 to be paid to Capitol City Quilt Guild for each quilt. General Foods is to provide fabric and pattern."
Jan said that members worked on the blocks at guild meetings. "It was fun and made us a nice profit." Jackie Beard, another member, told me that she joined the guild a year before and that it was her first attempt at applique.
General Foods eventually merged with another large food company in the Chicago area shortly after that. When the two companies were combined, "General Foods" was eventually dropped from the corporate name and existed only as part of a brand name for a flavored instant coffee, General Foods International.  So a coffee cups quilt was appropriate and perhaps may have used for advertising purposes?

Remember buying those instant International Coffees? They're still available but sold under a different brand. My husband sees them at the company store and occasionally brings home a few tins for me (they're sold in plastic "tins" now).

His client company acquired the quilt along with the brand and displays it  at their corporate headquarters. I'm glad that they did not just toss the quilt into storage somewhere. Apparently, someone in the company appreciates quilts enough to display them. 
According to the guild, there was a second quilt commissioned  - coffee cups made in blue and white. When I sent my husband on the hunt for that one he couldn't find it since some of the areas of the building were being renovated. He suspected some quilts had been taken down or moved. The two sister quilts were separated and the mystery of that blue and white quilt may never be solved. But at least now I know the story. And, I just may make my own appliqued coffee cups quilt someday . . . .

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Mystery of the Coffee Cups Quilt

The client company my husband works with has quilts displayed as art around the building. He sent me a photo recently of one he saw hanging near an elevator lobby. He knew I'd like it because I love coffee and have had coffee cups on my brain for more than a few weeks.

Sorry the photo is not very clear. The red and white theme is interesting, though, isn't it? Apparently, the quilt was made in 1988 by the Capitol City Quilt Guild. I don't know much about quilts made during this period. (I do know I was not a quilter yet and was pretty much off coffee that year because I was pregnant with my son.)
There is a slightly intriguing side note to this little story. My husband did not know this when he sent me the photo of the quilt but, as it happens, I am visiting the Capitol City Quilt Guild later this week. How coincidental, don't you think? Of course, he knows that I am travelling to Michigan for a presentation and workshop, but I know for sure I did not mention the name of the guild.
Who actually made this quilt? Were the cups made by members of the guild or one person? Is it even the same guild?  And, if it is, tell me just how a quilt made and designed by the Capitol City Guild  in Michigan found its way to the wall of a company in Chicago where my husband was able to spot it? And why, when he saw it in the lobby where it was displayed, did he feel compelled to pull out his phone and take a photo of it for me, not knowing I was actually going to visit the place where the quilt was born?
Did the quilt wish to be discovered and recognized? Was it lonely for its original home and hoping to return to Michigan with me? Is the designer/maker alive and kicking? (I hope so.) When I visit the guild this week will they be able to finish the story for me? These and other questions may be answered after I do some sleuthing and get back from my trip . . . .
 Here's what the description next to the quilt says:
"Coffee cups quilt. Designed by the Capitol City Quilt Guild, 1988.
"Quilting has long been associated with American handicraft and with the comfort and warmth of home. This pair of quilts applies this tradition in a witty fashion that makes reference to historical craft through the use of needlework. However, the repeated serial image has greater affinities with Andy Warhol's practice of repeating motifs than it does with traditional quilt design. Although it is reductive, the strong silhouette of a generously scaled coffee cup, resting solidly in its saucer, conveys the notion of heart and strength that a cup of coffee represents."
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You'll notice that the description refers to a PAIR of quilts but my husband only sent me a photo of one. He said he didn't see another one. So, I made him promise that, one day this week while I am at home drinking my morning coffee, he will go on a hunt to find the other coffee cups quilt. It may be displayed on another floor or even in a different building, who knows? Surely he has nothing else to do at work that's more important than finding the second quilt . . . .

Now I wish I had a red cup . . . .

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Facebook, Finally

Hey, I'm on Facebook now. I resisted for years and this past weekend I caved and joined.  I've been sooo out of the loop and decided it was time to change that.  Now I'm getting in the loop and trying to catch up with all the other quilters out there. Better late than never.  Know what? It's actually kind of fun. Facebook. Who would have guessed?
If you like my blog, LIKE me on Facebook too. Click on my Facebook link in the column on the right side of this page (not the photo below). It's a business account, not a personal account, so I'm not "friending" anyone. But I'd love to see your comments.

It's been fun posting pictures and writing there about quilting. It's not blogging, just another way to connect with those of you who want to stay connected and see what I'm doing on a more frequent basis. Hanging out together you could say. And one more way for me to spread my love of quilting all over the place. Wish me luck and perhaps I won't fizzle out on you like I did with Twitter . . . .

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It's been so long but today I'm getting back to working on some applique and then hope to have time to play around with my Maple Leaf blocks to see if I can make it all work together.

Yesterday, I went through my scraps, looking for just the right combination  to go with the blocks . . . .  Funny, these blocks look so bright yet they're all made with reproduction fabrics and not colors I'm used to working with so much. I love the way they almost have a "modern" look.

 Are you in a Maple Leaf mood yet?


Saturday, October 5, 2013

October Leaves

Every year about this time I bring out my "fall" fabrics and begin playing in earnest. In my Yahoo group we're making small maple leaf quilts for October.

It's an easy block and you can find the pattern here.
I prefer to make mine scrappy, but that's just me. You may wish to make yours with just 2 colors.

For the past few years I've spent early fall making small leaf quilts for friends and family. I made this runner for myself a couple of years ago. Yes, I know, it's a little wild and quirky but I do love that print I used for the setting triangles. Not everyone agrees, LOL. Even though I'm not sure it's exactly "me" I don't regret it for a minute. October can get kind of wild at times here in the Midwest, you know.
This year I am determined to make something new. Check back before October is finished to see what I came up with. I'm still thinking about how to set the blocks. I think the new one will be a teeny bit calmer because I made some new blocks and added blue prints to tone it down if it needs it. Or maybe it won't be calmer, we'll see. Who am I kidding? My quilts usually take on a life of their own . . . . I just go with the flow and do what the quilt tells me to do. Sometimes an original design or plan gets thrown out the window and another takes over. Isn't that the way it works for some of you too?
Here are a couple of quick suggestions for setting your blocks -

So, if you have the time, get out your fall-colored prints, play around a bit and then hurry up and make something "fallish" before winter gets here! And then show me what you came up with. I'd love a peek.
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Thanks for all of your recent orders and the nice response to the Sentimental Quilter mugs.  FYI - The first round of mugs and mug quilt kits were mailed out on Friday. I ordered more mugs and they will be here next week.  Please be patient. If you ordered one and it does not arrive next week,  you should get it in about 2 weeks, give or take. If you ordered a kit AND a mug, I will wait for the mugs to arrive and then mail them together. And then we can all sit down and have coffee or tea together and dream about maple leaves . . . .