Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bridges

I am from Idaho and my husband is from Connecticut. We currently live in Iowa, which is pretty much smack-dab in the middle of them both. On the summers that we decide to travel to both places, we put a lot of miles on our van AND on our kids. It's always a fun adventure, though. My husband is perfectly content to drive all day and I am perfectly content to let him and look out the window. I saw so much this summer that inspired me.

We went west first, and ended up in the Grand Teton National Forest on a late spring morning. I stood on the shore of Jenny Lake and watched the way the shadows of the mountains and the light from a weak sun rippled across the icy water. I stood there longer than I should have admiring the beauty and contemplating how to replicate that feeling of movement I got from the frigid water. When we got back to my mom's house I started piecing the center of the quilt. Now, feel free to laugh at me, but at the time I was thinking of trying my hand at a minimalist quilt. I sketched out a few ideas where I used only a few half square triangles.....which might be why I thought it would be a good idea to use 2" finished HST. Are you laughing yet? Once I placed the pieces on the design wall and realized how much I liked them all together, I threw the plans in the trash and kept building. The truth is, I like piecing. I also find it difficult to quell my exuberance once I start.

When we drove east, I had a whole bunch of light HST units and not much of a plan. Then, I found myself on the shore of the Long Island Sound watching the way the light moved across the dark water, rolling towards me in gentle waves. This time we got into the water and I spent quite a bit of time swimming with my kids and picking off many varieties of seaweed. I thought of what I loved best from that memory: the expansive feeling of the ocean view, the colors and the fun we had playing in the water. I thought of it all the way home. Before we even unpacked, I found myself in my sewing room picking a new palette and making more half square triangles. I decided to add them in an asymmetrical border and flip the orientation of the quilt to mimic the long horizon from the ocean.

I believe that when we let ourselves explore during our sewing time and make judgements in the moment, that really personal things emerge in our work. I can feel it when it happens to me and like what it does to my creations. I get the chance to share my feelings in fabric and also with words on my blog.

Around the time I was choosing to add that ocean inspired border, my husband and I were asked to share the story of how we met/married with the youth in our church. I was blessed to have an amazing, miraculous, never-would-believe-it-if-it-happened-to-someone-else courtship. I met my husband on a penpal site on the internet before Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan tried it. We wrote long emails to each other multiple times a day for three months before we talked on the phone for the first time. We had strong feelings for each other and I felt safe enough to give him my address. He sent me a present that I still treasure to this day (and hangs proudly in our living room). I had shared with him in one of the emails that I loved impressionist art, so he went to a museum and bought me a print of a Monet bridge. He included a note that told me he felt this was a symbol of our success. Two different people with wildly different backgrounds, faiths and experiences coming together to make something beautiful.

See what I mean? I was thinking and making and I made what I was thinking about. It's a quilt version of our bridge. Two different experiences with a common theme. He is who he is. I am who I am. We embrace our differences and our commonalities. We are better together.

"Ripple" finished at 79" x 59." I made it using 51 (!) different fabrics over the course of 5 months. It is matchstick quilted with Aurifil invisible thread and metallic threads by Yenmet in pearlessence white and twilight silver blue. The batting is Quilter's Dream Request.


Well, I can't really leave the story there, right? I also couldn't ignore the piles of triangle scraps that I had left (after trying many different methods for making half square triangles, I discovered that my favorite was sewing two triangles together). I experimented with insetting pieced strips of lights into the darker triangles. Once I'd used up all of my leftover triangles, I tried stretching the diamond shape and cut rectangle shapes out of my dark scraps. All the while, I was listening to the song "Let's Get Married" by The Proclaimers, a Scottish band. That may or may not be the reason that some of the plaid from my Loominous stash got slipped in there. (ahem) There's nothing wrong with being literal, right?

Want to hear the song? Here's a link.   

I have been married a long time, but I still remember that happy, euphoric feeling of the newly twitterpated. After writing emails back and forth (and eventually calling) for 5 months, Matt flew out from the East Coast to visit me for the first time. We had an awesome weekend for our first official date. While I was driving him back to the airport, I asked him about his plans and he PROPOSED. "I don't know about you," he said, "but I plan on spending the rest of my life with you." I almost drove off the road! Don't let all this improv fool you...in real life I am a careful and deliberate thinker, but at that moment I felt sure enough to immediately nod and say, "Okay. Let's get married." That song helped me focus in on and remember some pretty powerful memories.

"Let's Get Married" finished at 40" x 40." It is matchstick quilted with Aurifil invisible thread. I used Quilter's Dream Request batting.


I have to end with a funny story. I am finally ready to attach a quilt label to myself. The one I have chosen is Dedicated Quilter. I took the quilts to a park with a pond and river access to get my photography done. As we walked past the inclined boat launch, I had the thought that a picture with the Iowa River and foliage in the background would be a great idea for the big quilt. My kids were with me and I knew that my boys could hold the dowels I use to suspend the quilt over the water. I was a little concerned about the river slime that coated the launch, so I left the camera, the bag with supplies and my little girl at the top with the boys while I checked to see if it would be safe. I inched down the incline carefully. Just as the "Um....no" thought was forming I took another half step. That turned out to be a half step too many. I slipped in the muddy slime and started sliding down the incline to the very cold and very dirty Iowa River. Would this be a good time to mention that I was holding "Ripple?" Instead of catching myself with my hands, my first instinct was to lift the quilt over my head. The quilt and I rode down the boat launch and stopped just short of the river. I was covered in mud and my children were horrified, but I crab-walked (with one hand) myself back up the launch with a quilt on my head. I was scared to look at the quilt, but there were only 3 tiny flecks of mud that I was able to remove with some bottled water and gentle scrubbing with the sleeve of MY COAT. Priorities, priorities. All the photos were taken around the pond immediately following the *adventure* by me, The River Monster.

Thanks for reading. I hope you have a blessed holiday season.

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.








56 comments:

  1. I was so happy to see a post from you in my reader!! As usual, I love your stories as much as your quilts (or maybe more? hard to say..) Both quilts are fabulous, although the second looks more like a Jill quilt to me than the first.
    I love how you met! My husband and I met in person, but most of our 'dating' was letters (the old fashioned kind) and occasional phone calls. We started dating in May, and he left for basic training (Army) just a few months later. He asked me to marry him Dec 27th when he came home for Christmas, and we married in August (and moved to Germany where he'd been for stationed since January. We celebrated our 29th anniversary this year. I still feel twitterpated sometimes, and amazed that this man still chooses me :-)

    I think I would rather you label yourself 'fast quilter' ;-) because then, there would be more beautiful quilts and wonderful stories and I wouldn't have to wait so long in between :-) I suppose that is selfish of me, so you can keep your dedicated quilter status. It suits you.
    I hope you have a very blessed holiday season, too ~ Tracy

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    1. Thanks Tracy. Wow, Germany? I thought Matt brought me to Timbuktu when we moved to Boston! I do have an idea for my next AND it doesn't have 468,854,104,332 half square triangles, so I might not have 4+ months between blog posts again!

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  2. I love your quilts and the stories behind them. I recently pushed myself through finishing a quilt with fussy stitch and flip triangles by making another quilt with the trimmings. Will look into the invisible Aurifil thread.

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    1. Thanks Sally! I do the same thing. Sometimes it's the thinking about the next quilt that pushes you to finish. I recommend the thread. I like using many colors of fabric, and I love the texture of dense quilting. Using that thread lets me do both.

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  3. Gorgeous quilts, wonderful stories, and superb photography!

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    1. Thanks, Linda! When you work that hard on a quilt, they deserve a good story and a decent picture!

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  4. The quilts are very beautiful! Nice foto's in the woods!

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    1. Thank you, Marie. I love hanging quilts from trees! The water was an extra bonus this time!

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  5. Your quilts are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your inspiration.

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    1. Thank you! It's gotten tricky to credit inspiration lately. I'm glad that personal experiences, nature and music are still a safe bet. (I hope)

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  6. You are so adventurous with your picture taking! Always love reading through the stories of your quiltmaking! Beautiful quilts! Thanks so much for sharing.:)

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    1. Thank you, Audrey! Adventurous is a great word for it! 😀 The good thing is that it forces me to attach a hanging sleeve to complete a quilt.

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  7. Those quilts are gorgeous! What wonderful stores about how you mest and then the mud-quilt one made me laugh! Priorities, so true! I met my husband on the mount of Olives, me from Sweden and him from So California. On vacation.... we had one day there and we wrote letters too, real ones! After a year we were married and I moved to So Cal for 12 years and we have now been 26 years in Sweden. Life is exciting!

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    1. Thanks, Louise! I hope you kept all the letters! We printed out the emails and keep them in humongous binders. What a treasure it is to go back and reread them. You're right, life is exciting and full of so many (happy) surprises.

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  8. Wow! Amazing quilts and great stories.

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  9. SO Appropriate that your Ripples should flirt with the water, mud and more of Iowa River -- SO close to textile baptism. You rock. Your quilts rock. I am blessed to you and your works and words.
    Where in CT is Matt from? Soon there. LOVE, mapp

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    1. "I am blessed to KNOW you and ... "

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    2. Ha ha! Marsha, I am so, so, *so* glad that I did not baptize that quilt. What a disaster. I may have had to do a load of laundry when we got home, but a quilt was not included. That is a win. Matt is from the Hartford area. We will miss you guys! ❤❤❤

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  10. Just beautiful! I loved your story too.

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  11. Beautiful quilts and lovely stories to go with them. I forwarded your blog to my daughter who said she would not make quilts. She's piecing her fourth quilt and loving it.

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    1. Thank you, Phyllis! That's perfect because I was NEVER going to make quilts too. My mom still remembers (and laughs) at me for sitting at the sewing machine (at 30 years old!) and grumbling about how this is NOT FUN.

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  12. When I saw your finish in Instagram today, I was savoring setting aside some time to sit down and read about your finish. I look forward to your writing and can see why your husband did, too, during your courtship. My husband and I started out via email long distance as well (but just after the Tom Hanks / Meg Ryan movie). I think it really helped us establish good communication. How awesome to not have gotten more mud on Ripple than just a few spots, you are dedicated indeed! :)

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne! My husband is a great writer and I am so glad that we met in such a way that I fell in love with his intelligence and humor first. That he is handsome and kind, etc, etc is just frosting on the cake. I think you're right about establishing good communication, too. I've been glad so many times over the course of our marriage that we know how to talk to each other.

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  13. I love Let's Get Married and your dedication to saving it from the icky slime.

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    1. Thanks, Afton. I entered both of these into Quiltcon. Believe me when I say that I did NOT have time for mud/slime. Desperate times, right?!

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  14. Good save! Beautiful quilts! What a story for your kids to tell in future years.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. I told them I'd do the same for them. Next time, though, when I baby step towards disaster...I'm having my son hold the quilt. 😀

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  15. You're quilts are beautiful, and the stories behind them are beautiful too, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Heather! I think the quilts are better with the stories and the stories are better with the quilts. Thanks for reading!

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  16. I love the light coming through your quilt in your pictures. Just beautiful. It looks like there isn't binding on either quilt. Do you turn them instead? Also, they look hand quilted. Can you explain how you used the two different threads? The effect is beautiful!
    I also was foolish---I mean smart--enough to start a quilt with 2 inch finished blocks. It is an epic project for sure!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Shoot! I didn't write about any of the things you asked about. Thanks for giving me the chance to fix that. Yes, I did choose to do a facing instead of a binding on both of these quilts. I like the clean look and will frankly admit that neither of these quilts have any utility other than being pretty. As far as the threads go, I added random lines of quilting (all machine, by the way) with the metallics. The pearlesscent went in the light part and the twilight went in the dark parts. After all that work, what's a few threads to bury? 😀 The pearlesscent looks like shiny milk and the twilight was shiny dark blue interspersed with brief periods of metallic silver. The effect on the quilt is a subtle shimmer. About 85% of the quilt was done with the monofilament. It is not shiny at all. It helped me get the texture of dense quilting that I love without messing up my color work. Thanks for asking these questions and good luck with your project!

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  17. Your quilts are beautiful. Love all the blues you used in them. YUCK as to the slime you slid into.

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I never seem to turn down a chance to use blue (or purple).

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  18. I really hope you are entering these quilts in a quilt show. They are exquisite! Lots of people should see them. The first one is such a great study of lights versus darks. It looks as though you studied art for a long, long time.

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    1. Thanks, Dondi. I did just enter these into Quiltcon and plan to try with AQS too. I was sneaky and made sure I tweaked the size so I could enter one in wall quilts and the other in large.😀 I had a great time working with these colors, but I told my husband I'd need to buy some expensive eye cream because I'd been squinting at these quilts for too long!

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    1. Thanks, Vera! I'm just happy to finally BE done.😀

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  20. Oh dear, that's not really a funny story. Imagine if you and your quilt fell into the river?

    I like the look of your matchstick quilting, but I'm guessing it takes quite a long time to do?

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    1. Thanks, Jenny. The matchstick quilting is very time consuming and pretty hard on my shoulders...especially with a big quilt. I try to take breaks often.

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  21. I am so happy to have come across your blog through Crazy Mom Quilts. I love your quilts and the stories that go with them! But that last "funny" story made me worry! (That's the mom in me!) I'm going to add you to my list of blogs I read so I can keep up with your quilts and stories.

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    1. Thanks, Claudia! I'm so glad that Amanda keeps up her linkup. It's a great way to find other blogs to read.

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  22. Well firstly wow! I can't believe how many hsts you made - and the quilts are absolutely stunning but oh what a lovely story of how you met your husband and I chuckled at the length you're prepared to go to to protect a quilt (and totally agree with it!!)

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    1. Thanks Carie! It wasn't making the HSTs that was the pain, it was squaring and pressing them (I pressed all the seams open) that I dreaded. Now you know why I'd do anything to save it from a mud bath!!!! 😂

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  23. I love Instagram for daily encouragement and inspiration but there's nothing like a blog post for a finished quilt...or two! Thanks so much for sharing your story so we can appreciate these two works of art on an even deeper level than just admiring their beauty. Well done!

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I totally agree. I love IG and I love blogs. They are two totally separate things. Blogging is much more work, but a quilt is so much more than a visual and a blurb!

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  24. There's something neatly poetic about your water-inspired quilt nearly ending up back in the water. Mud, though, is not so poetic! Lovely, lovely work as always and the stories you shared add layers of meaning (something I'm thinking about at the moment). I like the effect you get using invisible thread in the mix with your quilting.

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    1. Thanks, Kaja. I am SO happy that I did not complete that poetic circle and, as Marsha said, perform a textile baptism (with mud or water). I am glad I finally stumbled upon the invisible thread. It's making me more free with using colors in the piecing because I'm not worrying about quilting it.

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  25. Your blog is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!!!
    Your quilts are awesome and I always LUV then on sight but after the stories,even more so!
    Thanks for sharing this lovely one with us-so sweet and funny!
    Blessings to you and your family during the upcoming holidays!

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    1. Thank you so much! Quilts and stories are definitely better together. ❤❤❤

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  26. Your blog is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!!!
    Your quilts are awesome and I always LUV then on sight but after the stories,even more so!
    Thanks for sharing this lovely one with us-so sweet and funny!
    Blessings to you and your family during the upcoming holidays!

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  27. Wow. Your quilts just blow my mind. I love them both!

    "Ripple" is a little scary - at the thought of just how many HSTs you had to make! I love that you've combined both east and west, inland water and ocean water inspiration in one quilt. It is beautiful with the sun coming through it - it almost looks like stained glass. I'm so glad you and the quilt avoided taking a mud bath! Yikes!

    And "Let's Get Married" is a fun improv one. Your inserted strips look pieced or are they cut from a stripe? Very subtle effect, and it gives the quilt lovely depth.

    I love the stories that go with your quilts. You have a real talent for writing, and I always look forward to your latest blog post.

    My husband and I wrote letters daily to each other for 3+ years when he was in the Army, both before we were married and then when he was posted overseas before I could join him. To this day, I still look forward to the mail, although now it's mostly ads and bills. (I keep hoping it will be good mail!) I think writing to each other deepens a relationship, and it seems you agree. One day I need to rummage in the garage and find all of our old letters. We've moved so many times since we got married, the box is probably pretty deep in the stacks.

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    1. Thank you, Sharon! I definitely got better and faster at HSTs. It was good practice at precision sewing for me...something that is not my favorite OR my forte. Yes, those strips are pieced in Let's Get Married. Other than the plaid I cut into, it is 100% scraps (from this project and my solid scrap bin). If I'm honest, the decision to piece was more about thriftiness than aesthetics...but I really like the effect too! I'm so glad for the excuse I had to read through our old letters to each other. Life gets busy and familiar and full and it's easy to forget the magic. I hope you have some time out in the garage soon. ❤

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  28. Both quilts--and their stories--are amazing. You always inspire me to be more thoughtful and slow down on my quilts. So glad you stopped sliding before you hit the water!

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    1. Thank you, Angela (and sorry for the late response, I must have missed the notification)! As much as I sometimes wish I could get through all my ideas, I am glad that the construction process is slow enough that I can process! Quilting is a physical AND thinking activity!

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