Old Friends Make New Memories . . . and New Quilts!

It’s Friday, and I’m still adjusting to “real life” on the heels of my annual quilting idyll in the foothills with Alex (Anderson) and Joen (Wolfrom). In my Tuesday post, I shared photos of projects both completed and in progress. Today, the rest of the story–including more quilts!

Stocking up at the supermarket: Alex and Joen, who had been up since 5AM to catch her flight from SeaTac to Oakland.

Stocking up at the supermarket: Alex and Joen, who had been up since 5AM to catch her flight from SeaTac to Oakland.

One of the most enjoyable elements of the entire week was watching Alex at work. Unlike other years, when she arrived with a specific goal in mind–a quilt to make for a book or pattern, for example–this time she came with a suitcase full of fabrics hand-dyed by Sonya Lee Barrington, and a mind open to “what if?” The results were amazing!

Small Improvisation 1 (12" x 18") by Alex Anderson

Small Improvisation 1 (12″ x 18″) by Alex Anderson

Small Improvisation 2 (12" x 18") by Alex Anderson

Small Improvisation 2 (12″ x 18″) by Alex Anderson

Don’t you just love the little shots of color in the narrow, flat piping, and the wonderful overall quilting?

Stitching down the binding; I can guarantee that's country music coming through those earbuds!

Stitching down the binding; I can guarantee that’s country music coming through those earbuds!

Enouraged by her success (and by Joen’s and my enthusiastic response), Alex launched into another small project. Here she is with her work in progress; by the time we packed up late Wednesday morning, the 15″ x 15″ top was complete.

Alex at work

Alex at work

Along with the two finished quilt tops I shared in my Tuesday post, I managed to tackle two more small projects. The first grew from a single block I had completed earlier in the week.

Phase 1 of Darra's third getaway project.

Phase 1 of Darra’s third getaway project.

I went on to assemble four more blocks, and then had fun trying out various arrangements.

Horizontal and staggered

Horizontal and staggered

Vertical and staggered

Vertical and staggered

Should I make more blocks for a larger quilt?

Should I make more blocks for a larger quilt?

Another option for a larger design

Another option for a larger design

In the end, I decided to consider this a “noble experiment” and stop at five blocks. In the process, I learned a ton about the scale and number of strips to include, and the effects of various color and value placements. I sewed the blocks together, opting for a simple arrangement–one that can be displayed horizontally or vertically. Once quilted, I plan to try out the faced edges Jennifer wrote about in her April 16 post, and (ultimately) to refine and expand upon the basic design and technique to make a larger, landscape-inspired piece.

Darra's blocks sewn together (13 1/2" x 17 1/2"), ready to be basted and quilted

Darra’s blocks sewn together (13 1/2″ x 17 1/2″), ready to be basted and quilted

Darra's blocks with a vertical orientation

Darra’s blocks with a vertical orientation

With another full day to sew, I decided to pull out the bits and pieces left over from my Churn Dash quilt and do something small and traditional. What fun . . . and finished in a day! Though my hands and eyes aren’t quite as cooperative as they used to be, I’ve decided that this one is small enough to be hand quilted.

Back to My Roots, 17" x 22 1/2", by Darra Williamson

Back to My Roots, 17″ x 22 1/2″, by Darra Williamson

Not all the creativity was centered directly on fabric. Joen spent much of the week working on and reviewing and gathering images for an exciting upcoming book project, and we paused frequently to gather around her laptop and sigh over yet another awe-inspiring quilt. Joen’s most recent book, Adventures in Design, which I featured in a 2011 post, included dozens and dozens of incredible quilts. You can expect more of the same in the new book, which I’ll tell you more about as publication nears.

One of our "innovations" in recent years has been to move the ironing station outside to the deck for the cool breezes and lovely views. If you look closely, you can see Joen at her laptop, reviewing quilts for her upcoming book.

One of our “innovations” in recent years has been to move the ironing station outside to the deck for the cool breezes and lovely views. If you look closely, you can see Joen at her laptop, reviewing quilts for her upcoming book.

In addition to sharing those amazing quilt images, Joen contributed another vital element to the week. Every year, we seem to come up with something (or -things) that becomes an overarching topic for discussion. Last year there were two:  the upcoming taping for Joen’s class for Craftsy and our discovery of Pinterest. This year, it was . . . juicing! We had so much fun experimenting with recipes and enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of our labors.

Our new friend

Our new friend

Ingredients for one afternoon's juice

Ingredients for one afternoon’s juice

Yummy!

Yummy!

This doesn’t mean we skimped on meals — just that we craved other, less nutritious snacks a whole lot less.

One lovely dinner, almost too pretty to eat!

One lovely dinner, almost too pretty to eat!

As each getaway ends, we always say the next time can’t get any better, and every year it does. As always, it was hard saying goodbye to our little house in the trees, but we’ve already blocked out the dates for next year’s getaway.

Packing up to head home

Packing up to head home

Ummm? Where does Joen sit?

Ummm? Where does Joen sit?

So, ’til next year . . . and ’til next time, happy stitching!Darra-signature

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4 Responses to Old Friends Make New Memories . . . and New Quilts!

  1. Rosemary says:

    OMG! Look at the gray. I just finished a T-shirt quilt for my daughter and it wasn’t easy to come up with something that went with green/white, purple/gold/, blue/white-all local college colors. I picked up Stonehenge/White Christmas by Northcott on the Quilt Rush Shop Hop to go with all the dark t-shirts. Then I found some white t-shirts and decided to also use charcoal by Kona which looks like the gray from the post. The Stonehenge fabric was so light it was OK with the dark colors for contrast, but stood out like a sore thumb with the white, so the charcoal toned done the bright white. I see gray of varying degrees in so many posts lately-it’s really becoming popular.

    • Darra Williamson says:

      Gray was everywhere at QuiltCon, Rosemary, and it looked very fresh and appealing…and very inspiring. I’ve never used it much in my quilts before, but I can see more in my future. Darra

  2. Joyce Lytle says:

    Looks like you three had a lovely, productive, and nutritious time together. Great friends, great fun!

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