Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review & GIVEAWAY: "Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts" by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms

"Across the Pond" © by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms 2012
photo by Brent Kane
I'm a big fan of quilts with small pieces, so I was very happy to be invited to participate in this Blog Book Tour to announce the arrival of this wonderful book, "Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts" by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms. 

We will be doing a GIVEAWAY today. Just leave a comment on this blog, only one comment per reader, and the winner will be selected by random drawing and announced tomorrow.

The Blog Book Tour is making ten stops, and Wonkyworld is the third stop. Sew, Mama, Sew! hosted the first stop on July 18th, and last week Be*mused was host. Here's the schedule for the rest of the tour:

August 10 ~  See How We Sew
Aug 13 ~   Quiltsalott
Aug 20 ~  Amy's Creative Side
Aug 29 ~ Supergoof
Sept 3 ~ Quilts in the Barn
Sept 11 ~  Stitch This/Martingale
Sept 17 ~ Quilting with the Past

So, I've literally been carrying this book around all summer, and it's something I know quiltmakers will love. I've also learned, since I'm mostly a collector and haven't made a lot of quilts, that this book is the second of two. The first one is a bestseller- "Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts" and is also available online.

"Pumpkin Peel" © by Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms 2012
photo by Brent Kane

Continuing on from their love of small block quilts as seen in their previous book, Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms now share their passion for antique inspired, full-size bed quilts made with many, many small pieces. Included are ten projects using a wide variety of construction techniques: from traditional machine piecing to string piecing and paper foundation piecing with a range of complexity to appeal to both the beginner and the small piece devotee. Featuring reproduction fabrics, these quilts projects are colorful, distinctive and dazzling.

Mary Elizabeth Kinch
In Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts Mary Elizabeth and Biz incorporate several additional features that are exceedingly informative. A thorough listing of tips for success covers such topics as new quilting technologies and sewing accessories and strategies that range from the tried and true to the unusual. Design notes reveal the creative evolution of many of these amazing quilts, and, insightful commentary accompanies the ten antique quilts highlighted in the inspiration gallery, many from private collections and never seen before.

The authors have once again produced another quilt book that will, as Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts did, become a "must-have" on quilter's bookshelves around the worldSo, since this new book is a must-have, we're doing a giveaway today. One copy of the book will go to a lucky winner. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post. A random drawing will be held after midnight Pacific Time, and the winner will be announced tomorrow. Good Luck!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mountain Mist Bicentennial Logo Quilt

Today I had breakfast with Andrea Balosky, who is visiting from India, and we went back to my place to look at quilts. Just as we were getting ready to leave, I noticed a package on my doorstep. We raced back inside to open the package, and it was the Bicentennial Quilt from Massachusetts. Andrea and I marveled at all the applique work. All the color you see on this quilt was appliqued.

Some of the patches had lost their stitching on a side, and we could peek underneath. There was a letter "B" printed in blue under a blue patch. Hmmm! There were blue lines under the lines of quilting. Hmmmmm!!! We looked at each other and exclained, "It's a KIT!"

Later in the day, I was curious to know if I could find any information online.  All it took was a google search to figure out the source of this quilt, and I should've known. It's a Mountain Mist Bicentennial Logo Quilt. I found the information on Jean Carlton's blog about Patriotic Quilts from over a year ago. To read Jean's blog, click here. Jean got her information from Rosie Werner and her Quilt Kit Identification website. Again, I should've known!

It's kind of hilarious that Mountain Mist made this quilt the way they did, with applique taking the place of a traditionally pieced design. Sure, the actual Bicentennial logo needed to be appliqued, but the stars and boxes? Applique doesn't come easily for a lot of people. What torture it must've been to applique all those pieces to the printed ground. Andrea made a funny face, and we giggled about the idea.

ARBA Bicentennial Flag, 1976

Last week, I bought a Bicentennial flag on eBay. The description looked good, and even though it had a little foxing in one corner, the flag looked like a good one. It was manufactured by the Baldwin Regalia Company of St. Louis, Missouri for A.R.B.A., the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. There is an A.R.B.A. stamp next to the Baldwin label.

Most of the flag is cotton, and nicely finished
The logo medallion is nylon, stitched into the center of the cotton flag

A long time ago, I had a Bicentennial flag, but it was smaller, all nylon, and disappeared from the dormitory at prep school back in the 80s. This flag is much larger, 5 x 8 feet, and has cotton and nylon. It's the real deal. I thought it would be fun to have one of these flags because I'm expecting a package with the Bicentennial logo quilt any day...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mystery Solved!

I bought this enameled metal sign almost 20 years ago, back in 1994 in Maine. All these years, the origin of the sign has been a mystery to me. It's always been hanging in my home most of the time since I first bought it, and is currently hanging in the garage near the entry to the washroom. Every once in a while, whenever it occurred to me I would do google searches or check eBay to see if I could find out more. But I always came up empty handed, until recently.

I found a listing on eBay, and another. The sign was from Citgo! And it's from the 1970s!! And it has some value!! Trying to remember, but I doubt I payed more than $45 for it. There is some damage, corrosion on one corner. The sign is reversible, and it looks better on one side than the other. The wire frame that held it on top of a gas pump is missing. My sign might not be worth as much as the one in the eBay listing (pictured), but I think it's better than $45.

The busy bee was part of an advertising campaign, which included another sign I found (pictured). This sign says "A Nice Way to Travel" and has the bee buzzing over a "John L. Customer" credit card with the number 123 456 789. LOL!

Mom and Dad gassed up at Esso, which later became Exxon. That might explain why I don't really remember the Citgo bee. There's something familiar about the whole design of it, though. I'd thought about selling my sign, but now that I know what it is, I think I'll hold on to it for a while.

So, mystery solved!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mom's other pillow

The Cross and Crown pillow was the second quilt design needlepoint pillow Mom made for me. The first was a Tumbling Stars needlepoint. I love this pillow. She used a variety of bright colors and pastels, with navy anchoring the whole design. The pillow is on the bench in my front foyer for now, but I'm keeping an eye on it. That spot gets a fair amount of light, and I don't want it to fade.

In Stitches was the source for the canvas and the finishing services, and once again, they did a great job! 

A gift from Mom

When Mom was visiting Oregon, just about everyone asked her if she'd ever made a quilt. She hasn't, but she's made some very nice needlepoint pillows, and her latest one happens to be a quilt pattern! It looks very much like Cross and Crown, a favorite of my friend Mary Bywater Cross. Oh, I think Mary might be envious when she sees it!

The pattern came from In Stitches, over in Forest Heights. Shop owner and corporate etiquette and protocol consultant Lori Hennessy has great products, and they use an excellent finishing service for pillows. Mom brings all her pillows to In Stitches. This pillow has a simple finish with a coordinating multicolor edge. Looks great! And Mom had fun with it- she varied her stitches throughout, and made it into a needlepoint sampler within a quilt design. Wonderful! Thanks, Mom!!

Why Quilts Matter July Blog: Purely American

A quilt I call "Purely American", c. 1860, Kentucky
Hard to believe it's almost August, but please don't miss my July guest blog for "Why Quilts Matter". It's about the "New York Beauty" quilt pattern, which is among the first purely American quilt patterns. Traditions such as quilting three layers, patchwork, and quilts as bedcovers came from the Far East and Western Europe, but Americans infused quiltmaking with creativity and original design. That's how we made quiltmaking our own.

One of the two quilts in the blog is this early Kentucky quilt (pictured), which also appears in one episode of "Why Quilts Matter". This masterful example is expertly made, all pieced and quilted by hand, with wonderful decorative quilting. It has an intriguing path of owners, from Shelly Zegart and America Hurrah to Susie Tompkins of Esprit. I bought it from Julie Silber, and now it is part of my collection. Great quilt!

To check out the July "Why Quilts Matter" guest blog, click here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Facebook Foto Friday, 7/27

"Dragonflies are Free" 2012
It's Facebook Foto Friday again, and here's the latest quilt I've bought through the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. How could I resist a New York Beauty block? The quilt is called "Dragonflies are Free" and it's by Jo Paula Lantier and Dana Merrill of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It's AAQI Priority Quilt # 10,461!

This quilt is bright, colorful, and includes dragonfly fabric in the upper left. There's a little wonkiness going on in the curve and points, and it looks like things started to fall into place after a little practice. Even with foundation piecing, this quilt design is challenging because of the curved seams and points. I applaud anyone brave enough to try it!

Since this quilt includes a New York Beauty block, it's now part of my New York Beauty collection, as well. A nifty little cross-collectible, so to speak. Eventually, I hope to have at least one quilt from each of the 50 United States, and this quilt allows me to put a check mark next to Louisiana. For more information about the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative including how to make, donate and buy quilts, click here.

On Deck: Giveaway!

Several weeks ago, Mary Elizabeth Kinch invited me to participate in a blog book review tour to announce her new book "Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts" co-authored with Biz Storms. So, I'm pleased to announce July 31st will be the date of the blog, and there will be a giveaway!!

We will have a copy of the book, and everyone who comments on the post on July 31st will be entered in a random drawing to win the book. Excellent book, and I know the lucky winner will be delighted by all of the fabulous quilts inside!

Stay tuned for more details.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Coffee Break: Iced Coffee, Northwest Style

I've been known to tease people, especially friends back East, about buying bottled coffee drinks and McCafe. Since I'm not the type of guy to tease people without offering some good advice, I thought I'd share my recipe for iced coffee. Here in the Pacific Northwest, where we tend to be coffee connoisseurs, we do our iced coffee Americano style, and we use espresso. Yes, we do.

That's espresso, not expresso!

Fresh ground beans - a must!!
My trusty little Starbucks Barista machine, and a glass with sugar awaits
Before packing: the ground beans must be packed down before brewing.
About two shots. I usually just fill a small syrup pitcher.
Easy-peasy. Just pour the hot espresso into a glass, with sugar if you like. Stir, and the hot espresso will dissolve the sugar. Add several scoops of ice and stir. The ice will melt and dilute the espresso to the strength of coffee. I like to add a little milk if I've got it, or even some water to top it off. Taste as you go.

Fill with ice after sugar is dissolved. Ice melts and dilutes to coffee strength.
"Stir it up; little darlin', stir it up."
Milk is good, or just top it off with a little cold water, and stir. Enjoy!
So that's all there is to it. Best glass of iced coffee you'll ever have, made fresh. It took me a while to catch on to the ritual of being a home barista, but after a while, buying coffee at Starbucks, Dutch Brothers, or the local mom and pop drive-thru espresso hut can burn a hole in the wallet. And after telling you all about it, right here right now, I'm still sippin' on my drink. So, I hope you've enjoyed this Portland, Oregon coffee break. Try it, you'll like it!

Upholstery Fabric Sampler, c. 1960, Texas

Upholstery Sampler, c. 1960, Texas
OK, so this piece is just plain cool. I've had my eye on it for a while on eBay, and the price gradually dropped to the point that I just couldn't resist any longer. It's an upholstery sampler, made in the 1960s in Texas, a tied summer cover backed with sky blue double-knit polyester!

Holes from where the fabric was held in a book are visible in some blocks 
Tied with red string, no batting, polyester binding and backing
Damask stripe and chenille fabrics 
Damask floral pattern and woven stripe fabrics
Damask stripe fabric with a red string tie
The other day, I showed this quilt to Mary Bywater Cross, who is currently working with wool samples. She said, "I really like this," and I agree. There's something about the combination of colors, how it looks when hanging, and how the sheen of each fabric catches the light. A very earthy combination of colors, and the blue binding is really working. When I first started watching this piece on eBay, it was $129.99 buyout. When it made its way to $49.99 buyout, that's when I clicked the "buy it now" button!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lecture with Metropolitan Patchwork Society

My first quilt, purchased in 1989, c. 1850, Kentucky
Last night, I lectured for the Metropolitan Patchwork Society in Beaverton, and the subject was the New York Beauty quilts. It was my first visit to this group, and I was very impressed and hope to be invited back again. Great audience, wonderful questions, and I could tell there was a whole lot of quilting experience in that room. The quilts were presented in chronological order, and here's what I brought to show.

As seen in "Why Quilts Matter", c. 1860, Kentucky
c. 1870, by Florence Caldonia Corley Shealy, Saluda, South Carolina 
The famous MacMillan Family Quilt, 1868, Kentucky
Rare example with applique, c. 1870, Kentucky
Miss America Phyllis George's quilt, c. 1880, Kentucky
As seen in Quilters Newsletter, a rare late 19th century cheddar ground
"Make this quilt!" pattern in Quilters Newsletter
c. 1910, North Carolina
The namesake: Mountain Mist New York Beauty, c. 1930
"Lady Liberty" quilt, Karen Stone pattern, by Marita Wallace, 2010
New York Beauty, 2010, by Nancy Tanguay, Warren, Connecticut
It's a lot of fun to show these quilts in chronological order. In doing so, we get a much better idea of the life story of this quilt pattern. In the earliest days the pattern already had great stature and importance seen in the fine piecework and quilting. It was a "best" quilt, made for the dowry, wedding, or other milestone occasion. The early names, Rocky Mountain Road, Crown of Thorns, and other names were connected with westward migration and religion. The name New York Beauty, which came from a 1930 pattern by Mountain Mist, indicated a shift toward urbanization in America.

Today, the New York Beauty is much more of an art quilt, and impressively, still maintains its stature as a quilt on a pedestal. Even though foundation piecing has allowed this pattern to become a little easier to make and much more popular in the last 15+ years, it's still among the most difficult to make because of those curved seams and points. In other words, if you want some "street cred" in the quilt world, just make a New York Beauty!

Thank you, Metropolitan Patchwork Society, for inviting me to come talk. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did, and I'll happily come back any time you want me. :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When was this quilt made?

When do you think this quilt was made?

"Klee" by Marsha McCloskey of Eugene, Oregon, is crisp and bright, and the combination of colors, mix of prints and solids, and improvisational geometry are all very fresh and modern. The quilt is called Klee because it was inspired by the work of artist Paul Klee. It is wall-hanging size, and includes a mix of fabrics. Marsha brought this quilt to me on Saturday, and now it is the latest addition to my collection.

Have you guessed when it was made? It's something most of us have never seen done by Marsha McCloskey. It is remarkably improvisational considering Marsha, who is famous for her amazing precision pieced Feathered Star quilts.

Some clues: It is machine pieced and hand quilted. It was done when quilts weren't really being made as wall-hangings. The fabrics include corduroy, polyester and cotton blends, prints and solids.

If you guessed 1970s, you're right! The date on the back is 1973, but it may have been started in 1972. Before I saw the inscription, I asked Marsha when it was made, and she said 1972. Can you believe this is an early 1970s quilt? It's so "right-now" in a lot of ways. I think it's just fantastic!! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bicentennial Quilt from Massachusetts

An eBay auction I'd been following ended today, and I'm the lucky winner of a handmade Bicentennial quilt from Massachusetts! I remember the Bicentennial and recognized the star logo immediately. The American Revolution Bicentennial Commission selected the logo via contest in 1974, and the winning design was by Bruce N. Blackburn, who was also co-designer of the modernized NASA insignia used from 1975-1992.

When I first saw the listing, I thought maybe it was a mass-produced quilt, but it's not. Looks like a lot of it was done by hand. Based on the pictures I'd say it was machine pieced, hand appliqued and hand quilted. It's large, too - 82" x 101"!! The listing said it was cotton, but could also be a cotton-polyester blend. The quilt was just $49.99, a nice bargain, and is coming from Nahant, Massachusetts. Can't wait to see it in person!!

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE: I found a flag to go with this quilt. Back in high school I had one of these flags, but it was stolen from my dormitory at the end of the school year. When I went to go look on eBay, there was one just like it. So what did I do? I bought it!!