An Empty Spools Scrapbook in Words and Photos

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA
Kelp strand, Asilomar Beach, Pacific Grove, CA.

I think the downside of keeping many balls aloft is trying to launch another one without creating mayhem. That’s probably why quilting classes and retreats are rare for me:  they are difficult to slide into my routine. Although when they do pop up, I like to park those pesky balls and immerse myself in the experience.

That’s just what happened about a month or so ago when I went on a road trip with my compulsive quilt retreater friend Cyndy Rymer. We steered a course southward to the Monterey Coast for the last session of the 2014 season of the Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar.

What’s not to love?  Five days of quilting with a master teacher, camaraderie, seaside hikes, and, best of all, no daily grind at the office, no cooking, and no housekeeping! Perhaps I should stow those balls more often, but I can’t manage Cynderelly’s pace–she’s done +50 classes/retreats to my three!

She Came From the North Pole . . .

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow at Empty Spools 2014Cyndy and I elected to take Canadian Judy Farrow who offered a design class for our week’s immersion.  Neither of us knew much about her so it seemed like a voyage into the unknown, which indeed it was . . .

Upon meeting Judy it’s all to easy to be deceived by her quiet nature and British reserve, but that would be a mistake. She’s spirited, passionate, and very funny. Still, it was surprising to learn that, some 40 years ago, Judy and her husband left comfortable Montreal to teach high school on Baffin Island, a remote and frigid Canadian island that straddles the Arctic Circle. While there, Judy and husband Malcolm travelled extensively by dog team and hunted seals to feed them! These days, after three decades in those northerly climes, she’s ensconced in more-temperate Vancouver.

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow's Moose 2014 Empty SpoolsThat arctic imprint is unmistakable, especially in  her most-renowned quilts, and has served as the starting point for her evolution as quilt artist. (Remarkably, Judy learned the craft from home study of Laura’s curriculum outlined in Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!!) Nowadays Judy’s quilting vernacular is very broad and inventive, although still rooted in inspiration from the environments she has encountered.

Quilt-J:  Judy Farrow's award-winning quilt, Snowy Owl Meets West Coast Totems
Snowy Owl Meets West Coast Totems by Judy Farrow

At Work and Play by the Seaside

While communing with a teacher is the major part of the Empty Spools experience, sharing a classroom with a unique set of fellow quilters is the other side of the equation. It’s at once exhilarating and humbling to experience the aesthetics and skills of other quilt makers. It’s also liberating to hitch a ride on another’s point of view and see how she might tackle the same design exercise.

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow design exercise Empty Spools 2014
You’d think 25 blocks would be easy to arrange, but 10 quilters with 10 ideas? Design exercise by Judy Farrow, Empty Spools, 2014.

Another Empty Spools feature is the Artist-in-Residence program. Gail Abeloe, owner of Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, just down the road from Asilomar, wrapped up the 2014 program with an opening night talk and exhibition of her work. The rest of the week Gail repurposed orphan blocks from her past projects and created brand new quilts. I slotted in daily visits to Gail’s workstation in the main hall, just across the way from Carolie Hensley’s pop-up quilt shop, to see her progress. Wow! It certainly helps that she has the best stash ever (quilt shop owner–duh!) and a superb eye for color.

Dates & Places-J:  Gail Abeloe's posse Empty Spools 2014
Phew, Gail (right) survived her debut as Artist in Residence and shares smiles with her sister, Jill Abeloe Mead, an editor at American Patchwork & Quilting, and mother, Dorothy Abeloe.

Probably the hardest part of quilting by the sea is ignoring the call of the surf, especially when the sun is shining and the breeze carries that salty tang. On “good” days, Cyndy and I walked the shoreline morning, noon, and night, but sometimes we just couldn’t fit in a third stroll what with class work, making friends in the dining hall, and checking out the evening programs offered by Empty Spools.  Although, once we experienced one sublime Pacific sunset, we were hooked for the rest of our stay. See my sunset photo essay below. Three consecutive nights of the setting sun:  same time/same place–each distinct.

Here’s my parting thought about quilt retreats–go when you can and, if Empty Spools is on your horizon, do it!

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA #1

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA #2

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CAJ-Signaturep.s.  Did I  forget to mention the picturesque town of Pacific Grove, just a mile or so down the road from Asilomar? Well, it’s eye candy central for many reasons, among them:  Kidwell’s Paint.

Dates & Places-J:  Window eye candy Kidwell's Pacific Grove, CA
Best paint store window ever! Kidwell’s Paint, Pacific Grove, CA.

 

 

Another Week, Another Quilt, Another Giveaway Winner

Quilt-J: Fat Quarter Quilt
Freshly pieced and now ready for quilting.

Another week, another quilt. Yeah, I’m slowing down and looking for a break from the quilt-making frenzy after this. I’ve got a deadline though, a serious deadline to finish this next quilt. My sister-in-law Laurence is coming from France for her daughter’s bridal shower here in the U.S. and I’m making her a quilt for a milestone birthday she celebrated recently. I was going to take it to Europe for the wedding, but as she’s heading my way . .  . might as well use her arrival as my finishing goal.  I’ll probably have to stitch on the faced binding as we drive to the shower.

Book-J:  Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott

I picked up Jelly Roll Quilts by the Lintotts, an English mother/daughter duo,  at Back Porch Fabric last fall. Gail Abeloe, the shop owner, had a colorful sample quilt from the book in the shop when I visited. Gotta admit, I’m a sucker for quilts with lots of colors paired with white and so, naturally, I succumbed and bought the book. Like Gail, I’m going for a multi-color palette. I’m stash-busting again and pilfering the leftovers from the Kaffe Fassett hexagon quilt I just finished.

Quilt-J:  Fat Quarter QuiltOf course, I like designing my own quilts, but sometimes, following another’s inspiration is liberating, especially when the instructions are so easy to follow.

Quilt-J:  Fat Quarter Quilt DetailWouldn’t you know, I even found leftover strips in my stash from a tenth-anniversary quilt I made for my brother and sister-in-law that I had to drop into this new quilt. See those Hoffman Fabrics butterflies? I loved those butterflies back then and I’m still attached. It’s a great print and I wish I had more, but as we well know, there’s always something out there even more tantalizing.  Just check out my backing and binding options below . . .

Fabric-J: Faced Binding Fabrics for Fat Quarter Quilt

A trip to my local quilt shop Wooden Gate Quilts yielded a trove of new Westminster Fabrics. The paisley is the backing, the zigzag print is the binding, and the green floral will be the corner triangles. Yes, I’m doing a faced binding just like the one in my Tuesday post. If you’re fabric shopping in the Danville, CA, area this weekend, do take advantage of a special at Wooden Gate Quilts on the third Saturdays of the month–a discount for the purchase of backing fabric when you bring in a completed quilt top. Follow the rules–the completed top is essential for the promotion.

Giveaway Winner!

Thanks so much for all the interest in faced bindings. That method (and its iterations) is a wonderful addition to your arsenal of quilt-making techniques. Keep your eyes peeled for the June issue of The Quilt Life and check out the comment from Sally2 who used American Quilter Projects 2007  for how-to’s. The winner is Brita, who would like me to make her a sunshiny quilt–Ha! Congratulations!

It’s been a tough week for the American psyche so I’m going to close with a floral tribute. We quilters celebrate beauty, charity, and goodness–all are defenses against malevolence. Jennifer

One element of a design--a ranunculus blossom.