Posts Tagged ‘quilters’

In Praise of Speed

Friday, March 2nd, 2012
Quilting with the Sweet

Quilting with the Sweet

I never cared about fast cars. A little bit about fast guys.  Never about fast bicycles, or the many drugs under that heading. Speed has always just been trouble in a  box.  But fast sewing machines……………….Well, Yes!

One of my pet peeves is sewing machines that are just too slow. There’s a moment for that. The first time you show a five year old how to  do free motion, yes, I do put the machine on slow. Its not likely to happen any other time.

Why? There’s an illusion that if we sew slowly we’ll have more control. Boy, is that an urban legend.

Imagine yourself on a bicycle for the first time. That first time when you are so scared that you pedal slowly. Wobble, wobble,  wobble. Once you really start to pedal faster you find you have so much more control and stability. It’s true of free motion too.

I’m so enjoying my experiments with the HQ Sweet Sixteen. The speed on a long arm/ mid arm machine is what makes the smooth and excellent stitching possible. Slower is wobbling along on my bike.

Nicer than the machine speed is the ability to stop on a dime needle up or down. Fast starts, fast stitches and fast stops make for excellent free motion.

But here’s the really cool thing. I just quilted 7 little quilts in less than one hour. Wahaha!!!!!  My mother would have called that seven in one blow. Take that, Green Giant!

There are things you didn’t know you needed, you really need. 

Who Me?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012


Quilter  Magazine offers a Teacher of the Year award. It’s one of those rare moments when someone says thank you. Class is always a rush. Quilters are the best folk on earth and if anyone will follow the niceties, it’s quilters. But it’s rare and lovely to hear a thank you.

I grew up in a teaching family. Everyone in my family had a teaching degree although not everyone taught. But even though I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, it was assumed that that was true if I wanted to be a teacher. I did want to be an archeologist, but that involved bugs and snakes. Bugs I like. Snakes I don’t. Eventually, the snakes and the need for serious organization intruded into the dream and I took my degree in primary education.

It was with serious shock that I realized I wasn’t suited to teach in a regular classroom. It should have been a clue when I realized that I was leading the riot. I’m great at communicating and setting up learning environment. Not so good at crowd control.

So when I began to teach quilters, I knew I found a home. But I also found that my students have always taught me.

They’ve taught me the kindness and personal support quilters give each other.

They’ve taught me to laugh at myself most.

They’ve taught me that the worst disaster is only a comedy in process.

They’ve taught me that nothing is impossible. It just takes more time.

They’ve taught me that physical limits are simply an invitation to do it differently.

They’ve taught me that most things can be fixed with chocolate, duct tape and ice cream, at least for a while.

They’ve taught me to ask for help.

They’ve taught me that accepting someone’s help or gift is a gift in itself, and it’s selfish not to do so.

So, since someone nominated me for teacher of the year, I have one thing to say. After all you’ve taught me, thank you.

Lauren Strach: A Botanical Lunatic with a Plan

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Lauren doesn’t look like a lunatic. She looks like a pink cheeked soccer mom. Look out! Stand back! 

She’s an emerging art quilter who attacks new approaches and techniques with gleeful ferocity. And masters them with passion. Every time she visits me, I find myself flying to my machine, inspired by her intensity.

Lauren says,

“My inspiration, like so many other quilters, comes from nature. 

As a life-long biologist and Master Gardener, I thought I saw nature, but it wasn’t until I embraced my artful journey that I began to really see.  My inspiration is found in the whorls of snail shells, the miniature worlds of mosses and lichens, the rugged nooks and crannies of the bark of the fallen tree, and the intricate shading and nuances in the early spring wildflowers. And, the more I see, the more I see.

The act of translating that vision in line, pattern and color into textile recreations introduces the next level of AHA!  It is an ever fascinating challenge to take the experience of seeing with eyes wide open, to shape it into form. From the fantastical realism of exaggerated insects, to the abstracted likeness of the quintessential flower bud, I seek to uncover the universal codes, to bring them to life with fabric and thread.  Tactile, textile translations of the mysteries of nature, celebrating the wonders of life, that is where I find my inspiration.

Lauren’s work has been showed at both Paducah and Houston. She was a finalist in the $100,000 Quilt Challenge. Where will she show next? It could be anywhere. If she doesn’t send it in, it’s likely 
to fly in on it’s own.

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