For years I kept journals -- in composition, spiral bound, and French graph paper books. This blog is an attempt to get back to writing and documenting the world around me using photos, newspaper headlines, and other articles.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Improvisational Quilting Class

Friday afternoon sitting in my car, stuck halfway up the driveway, watching the snow come down, waiting my hubby to tow me up to the street -- I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to get to Burlington, Vermont in time for my Saturday morning quilt class.  I felt determined and was not going to let the unexpected snow storm stop me from trying.

"Are you crazy? Do you really have to go?" my hubby was yelling as he hooked up the cable from his truck to the front of my car.

"Yes.  I paid for it and I'm going.  I really should be OK. The snow has stopped in Concord.  If I can make it there, I should be fine."

"A quilting the winter?  Really?

"Yes.  If the roads are horrible, I'll stop at the Lee traffic circle and wait for the plows and sand trucks to go by.  But I'm going.  I'll call you when I get to Concord."

And with that, he got me to the top of the driveway.  A hug and a kiss later, Selim and I drove off at a snails pace on the snow and ice packed road.  I'm not going to lie, the roads were still a bit dicey and I had a tight grip on the steering wheel for much of the drive.  Normally, I would not have ventured out in conditions like that.  Right before the Epsom traffic circle, we saw the back edge of the storm on the horizon and the roads started to improve.

End of the storm in sight.

In Concord, the sun started to peak out

Robert made it to our prearranged meeting place about the same time as we did.  I called Nedim to let him know we had made the first leg of the journey safely.  At 4:00 I was back on the road and happy that I still had an hour of daylight with me.  The roads improved with every mile north and west that I traveled.  I stopped a few times along the way and pulled into the hotel parking lot just south of Burlington around 6:45.

Saturday morning I drove into Burlington with plenty of time before class to get some breakfast.  I stumbled upon the Magnolia Bistro. Oh my. I ordered the coconut peanut tofu scram and ate it all.  The vegetables were perfectly diced -- fine, but in big enough pieces that I knew what I was eating. The tofu, light and fluffy. While ordering, the waitress asked me if I was either vegetarian or vegan because I had the option of butter or non-butter on my toast.  My kind of place.  I could eat there everyday and be happy.

Tofu, home fries, and toast. Yum!

Even if my class disappointed, the breakfast and the fact that I was on an adventure by myself was worth it.

I'll be back!

But my class was anything but a bust.  It was fabulous.  I had the best time.  I heard about the class sponsored by the fabric shop Nido from a quilting blog that I follow.  At first I didn't sign up, thinking that it was in Vermont, in the winter, a 3+hour drive away (every argument my hubby gave to me the day before, I realize), basically an extravagance.  I'm not sure what made me call on Wednesday to see if they had any openings...but sitting in the parent pick up line at the middle school, I made the call.  Someone had just cancelled and I got the spot. Destiny or some such thing.

Anyway, the class was taught by Heather Jones, who wrote the Quilting Local book that I have found so inspiring.  The title of the class was Improvisational Linework and Design.  We set up our machines and work stations at 9:30 and began the class at 10:00.  All of us brought 6 different solids and none of us had the same color combinations.  Some ladies' outfits matched their fabric choices and that gave everybody a chuckle.

The class was improvisational.  Not having a pattern, and cutting free hand with scissors gave some of us a bit of anxiety.  I'm so used to trying for perfection with my cuts and totally straight seems, that this other method took a bit of time to get used to.  At the end, it was liberating, not scary at all.

We were grouped in tables of 4.  I sat with great ladies.  We made a blanket apology at the onset that we were sorry for any bump or unanticipated sudden movement that caused a disturbance to the other.  There were moments when it felt like we were in a competitive cutting class or a who can sew the fastest class.  But it was really fun and made us all smile when we vocalized what we were thinking. It took until lunch time for everybody to relax and get into their own space where the motions of others didn't register too much.

Speaking of lunch -- I had brought my two Embassy inspired quilts with me.  During our break, I showed Heather my patchwork version and then told her that her book opened my eyes to the possibility of quilting with the same inspiration but not in block form.  I wasn't copying her style as I was still more literal in my own way, but her work inspired my second quilt top, for sure.  I think she was pleased to see that I had read the book and had used it as a basis for my own spin on design.

For the class, I set up my workstation with the cut fabric strips on my right and would chain sew those for a while before moving on to the next step.

All my strips, ready to go

Chain sewing

After finger pressing the strips open, we randomly combined two strips together to form blocks.

Ready to trim

Next step was trimming the blocks into squares and arranging into a bigger square.

16 smaller squares make one block

And sewing the squares into a big block of 16.  I love my first block, especially the little strip of yellow.  When I made my fabric selection, I had in mind the colors of the recent sunsets over Great Bay.  That tiny sliver of yellow reminded me so much of the sun going  down between the water and the clouds.  Not planned, unintentional -- perfect, in the improv moment.

Block #1 - my favorite part is the thin strip on yellow in the bottom row

I made two blocks and started on the third by the end of the class.

2 finished blocks

Before we packed up and left, we all taped one block to the wall.

All together now!

Visually it was so wild to see all the variation in blocks made up of fabric solids.  Even if we had all had the same fabric, no two blocks would have been the same.

What a great day.  So fun to be in community with others doing the same thing.  This was my third sewing / quilting class and I might have to make this a more regular experience.  I'm energized and exhausted at the same time. Maybe next time I take the class, I won't start out with such an inauspicious opening act and my hubby won't be so worried about me.  Other than that part, it was fabulous.

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