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Stop By If You Are in the Neighborhood

waitchie1-1Four hours north of Melbourne, Australia, heading towards the outback, lies the farming town of Swan Hill. Drive another half hour or more along a small road and in the middle of nowhere you will come to an old church which now serves as the patchwork shop “Miss Sampson’s Drapery”.

The church and a train crossing are basically all that is left of the town of Waitchie. But if you are in the vicinity, be sure to stop by this charming shop. I love the message about shop hours on the website.  http://www.misssampsonsdrapery.com.au

Shop Hours :
Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. unless we are at a show so check the calendar and/or ring before coming!
If I’m home on Saturdays, I’m more than happy to open up as long as I know you’re coming! The same arrangement for Sundays.
We welcome very small, small and large groups for coffee and cake on their first visit, but please let me know in time so I can bake!!

Miss Sampson's

The proprietor, Sue Bennett, has organized many of my teaching trips to Australia and we have become good friends over the years. Sue and her husband Malcolm and a few dogs and other animals live just down the road from the shop and always welcome visitors. If you are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by.

canola field

Last night Sue sent me this photo of the vista she is seeing right now out her back door. Can you guess what it is? I use it for cooking almost every day but never saw it growing.

canola colors

Sue, here are the colors. Now I’m waiting for the canola quilt!

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The Best Birthday Gift a Teacher Could Receive

!_MAX7115For three years in a row I taught classes in Ukraine. The students were so diligent and were like sponges for the information I had to give them. The best part was that I was teaching them design ideas and not a specific project.

Recently I celebrated my birthday and two of my Ukranian students, Lena Koroleva and Miri Tsoi gathered together several of their quilts and took these wonderful photographs and sent then to me along with birthday wishes. I remember with joy each of the classes I taught in Ukraine and it makes me so proud to see that they have taken the design ideas and turned them into their own quilts.

It is also wonderful to see that they are passing those skills on. A few days earlier, Lena also sent me photographs of students in classes they are teaching. This was the message she attached with the photos:photo 2

“Ukraine is experiencing hard times, but people rallied around our common disaster, all helping each other, to help the army and refugees from areas captured. In occupied by terrorists city of Donetsk live almost all my relatives (Donetsk is a city in which I was born and lived for more than 30 years). I am very worried about them.

Yesterday I and Miri Tsoi organized for refugee children from the Donetsk region free master classes on patchwork.”photo 1

With all the strife going on in that country right now it is great to see that Patchwork is still going on and brings some measure of joy to the people.

!_MAX7133

 

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Washington DC Folklife Festival

festival-home-photo-generalLiving in the Washington D.C. area certainly has its advantages. There are so many cultural opportunities available. An annual event that occurs for two weeks every summer on the National Mall is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The festival celebrates several US and foreign cultures each year with music, crafts, food and demonstrations. This year Kenya and China were the featured nations.

Last Thursday, Jin Yuanshan, a patchwork artist and one of the participants in the Festival, visited our shop hoping to have the chance to meet me. Unfortunately, I was out of town but she delighted the entire staff and shared some of her beautiful creations. When I returned, I learned that she would be demonstrating at the Festival on Saturday, July 5th.  So I went into Washington with Barb Hollinger, one of our Studio staff members.

ms jin with barb and jinny
Staffer Barb, Jin Yuanshan, and myself

Jin Yuanshan had so many of her beautiful creations with her and was sharing her techniques. I am so pleased that I had the chance to meet this truly inspirational and prolific artist.

Ms. Jin's Pieces

Ms. Jin works almost entirely in silk and does all of her work by hand (a woman after my own heart). I would describe many of her pieces as organized crazy patch. She never throws any scraps away but just makes smaller pieces with the leftovers. The pieces are joined together with silk thread with an over-cast stitch similar to the stitch used to connect English paper piecing.

Staffer Diane with Jin
Ms. Jin with staffer Diane

She also does dimensional pieces where she rolls or folds scraps of silk to create beautiful layered medallions.  She carries small squares with her everywhere she goes and in spare moments folds them, runs a needle through them and strings them for use later.

folklife festival_edited-1zuchinisAnd back here in Great Falls…..The reason I wasn’t here when Ms Jin stopped by the Studio was that we were visiting our grandchildren (and their parents). We were only gone four days. I swear that before I left I picked every single zucchini on the plants in our garden (except for the ones that were only two inches long). I came home to this. Thank goodness there are several women in my husband’s office who love giant zucchini. Five of them were very happy.

Oh, I noticed that I am wearing my “Nats” shirt…….In case you didn’t know, I am a huge baseball fan….and either go to, watch, or listen to every Washington Nationals game that I can.

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Pictures and Palettes and Pixels – Oh My!

Back in April, I wrote a blog post on the inspiration from all of the spring colors I found on my walk.  I also passed along a tip on how to create a beautiful palette from a photograph using Photoshop.  Here in the Studio, we’ve been playing around with some favorite photographs to see what we come up with.  We also got a “pingback” from another blog on how to take this a step further. Let’s take a look.

Nancy found this pile of shells on the beach after a storm. She was so taken by the many colors of the broken shells that she had to snap this photo. Never, though, would she have guessed that you could come up with 99 different colors!

Nancy photo

Studio manager Jane has always been taken with the brilliant colors of the early blooming flowering quince.  Yes, we all see the gorgeous apricot color of the flowers along with the green leaves and grayish-brown stems, but would you ever expect all of this?

Jane photo

I recently returned from visiting my younger son and his wife in their new home in California. The view from their house is amazing. One night, there was a spectacular sunset which just seemed to get better and better. Look at how the colors change.

sunsets copyWhy, you may wonder, are we revisiting this topic? A blogger for the group called, “Pixeladies” (I love the play on words) read my blog and took this a step further with instructions on how to change Photoshop’s default swatches with those you have created from your photograph.

Sunset color palette

Once your change to the swatches has been made, how do you take that palette and put it to good use? How about filling a quilt block with your new favorite colors?

Here’s how:
1. Open your unfilled quilt block in Photoshop.  This can be any quilt block line drawing- jpeg, png, tiff or pdf)
2. With the magic wand tool, click the area in which you would like to fill with your first color.  If you want to choose more than one area, hold the shift key and select as many areas as you would like.  The “dancing ants” will outline the area chosen.
3. Choose the color from your new palette that you would like to fill the area with in the block.
4. Next, select the paint bucket tool and drop the color into the selected areas.
5. Now, have fun filling and creating! You can always Edit-Undo if you don’t like your selection or fill over top with a different color.

Sunset filled blockTake that antique quilt from your grandmother that you love so much and recreate it with a new, fresher look or design a quilt from scratch like I did with my Argyll quilt.

Argyll1

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Quilter’s Design Board

design board blocksHow many of you have never played around with our Design Board? Did you know that there are 223 free patterns in three different sizes (6, 10 and 12 inches) and that a new pattern is added each month?

The blocks are grouped by how they are drafted such as 4-patch, 5-patch, 8-pointed star, etc. First, choose a block. You can print out templates for three different block sizes along with a template guide. Then the blocks can be put into a quilt and borders can be changed. There is a yardage calculator that gives the style numbers of the fabrics used in the block and also will determine how much fabric you need based on how many and what size blocks you want to use. It will even give you an estimate of the cost and put your fabrics directly into your shopping cart.

You can view the design in color or by the line drawing.  You can also change the border selection.
You can view the design in color or by the line drawing. You can also change the border selection.

 

This months’ block is Golden Tile. First and foremost, the block gets its name because it contains the Golden Proportions as was explained in a recent blog post. If the Golden Gauge Calipers are opened so that the smaller space fits on the shorter segment of the design, the larger opening fits on the longer segment.

calipers on Golden Tile 2 The design board is limited and is not meant to take the place of your graphics program but serves as a jumping off point. There are some wonderful software programs available which provide you amazing design possibilities. For blocks such as Golden Tile which are directional, you do not get the chance in the design board to see some of the other possible layout variations. If you have a graphics program that allows you to tile, rotate and flip blocks, experiment with different layouts. Here are some variations.

All blocks are oriented the same way.
All blocks are oriented the same way.
Four blocks are pinwheeled and that unit repeats.
Four blocks are pinwheeled and that unit repeats.
In any four block unit, opposite blocks are reversed.
In any four block unit, opposite blocks are reversed.

I hope you take the chance to play around with our Quilter’s Design Board and don’t forget to send us pictures of the quilts you make from it.

P.S. Golden Ratio by accident or design?

Dana, our staffer who did the layout for the blog sent it to me for approval. As soon as I saw her layout, I couldn’t help myself. I had to get out the calipers. So often when we are doing design or layout work, we select the proportions that are most pleasing to us and so many times it seems to fit the proportions of the golden ratio!

golden ratio by accident or design

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Make Way For Goslings

Luke & Gus on a rainy day
Luke & Gus on a rainy day with me in my office

Well, we almost had a disaster at the Beyers Monday morning. We have a pond on our property and every morning when I let out Gus and Luke (our two labs), we walk around the pond together. As we were coming along the dam, two adult geese suddenly flew from the sky, dive-bombed the dogs, then landed in the pond. Seconds later, another pair streaked up the dam and flew into the pond, all of them honking furiously. The dogs, of course, thought this great fun and went in after them.

Then, out of the corner of my eye,  I caught sight of a group of five precious little goslings on the slope of the dam. I knew if the dogs saw them the goslings would be completely vulnerable.  I yelled at Gus and Luke that it was time to eat and started running to the house. That got their attention and they jumped from the pond to follow me. (Well, they are labs, you know, and when you mention food…)

A few minutes later when I went to get the newspaper, I met my neighbor, Kim, who was carrying a camera with a huge lens. She said she was on her way to photograph some baby foxes she had seen. (Is my neighborhood starting to sound like that old TV show, “Wild Kingdom”?) I told her of the near miss with the goslings and invited her to come take a look. We could check to see if all the geese were okay.

goslings

When we arrived back at the pond, there were the goslings swimming along with their parents. Kim got some great photos and when I saw them, I couldn’t help thinking about the blog post two weeks ago which explained how to get colors out of a photograph. I couldn’t resist so here they are.

gosling colors
Colors drawn from gosling photo in Photoshop

The colors immediately reminded me of the version of Crayon Box that is made with the “tropical” set of Palette Pixie Strips. The only thing missing is the blue sky which was there but just didn’t make the photo.

crayon box_edited-1

I suppose I just can’t help myself from seeing color palettes, fabric designs and quilt possibilities all around me. I hope you are letting your world inspire you too.

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Spring is Here With Design Inspiration!

Luke, 3 months and Gus, 8 years
Luke, 3 months and Gus, 8 years

Spring is in full swing here in northern Virginia. How do I know this? Well, it could be the warmer temperatures or cherry blossoms blooming. But it’s not. For me, I know it’s spring because my 14-month-old dog, Luke, has been trying desperately to catch a frog since they have reemerged with the nicer weather.

We have always had dogs. I like having two. The older dog teaches the younger one and they keep each other company. Luke is our newest puppy. He came to cheer Gus up after we lost our Swissy, Gretchen. I have to say that Luke is one of the funniest dogs we have ever had. I will not be able to resist periodically sharing some of his and Gus’s antics.

However, for most of you, spring is about warmer temperatures and whatever it is you have blooming around you. I’m very fortunate that I live close to the Potomac River. I walk along the river three or four times a week. Monday of this week had to be the most gorgeous day of the year. Greeting me was a spectacular array of native flowers—bloodroot, toadshade, Dutchman’s breeches, toothwort.

wild flowers sm
Bloodroot, Toadshade, Dutchman’s breeches

The most amazing, though, were the Virginia bluebells which were at their peak. There was a carpet of bluebells stretching into the woods as far as one could see and reaching in the other direction to the banks of the river.

Bluebells woods and river smI came back fully inspired.

I often take colors from nature and use them in my quilt and fabric designing. Here are the colors of the Virginia bluebells.

colors of Virginia bluebells sm

I think these colors make a beautiful palette for a quilt. How did I get them from the image? It’s pretty simple if you have Photoshop.

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. Go to the top menu bar to Image/Mode/Indexed Color. Select the number of colors you want to see from the pop-up menu. You can go up to 250.
  3. Next go to Image/Mode/Color table. The chart with all the colors will come up.

bluebells in palette colors

Once you can clearly see the colors in the image, it is easy figure out your fabrics. I’ve used my Portable Palette which has swatches of all 150 of my Palette fabrics.

So take a walk and get inspired. Oh, and Luke? He’s still out there trying to catch a frog.

I know I could catch that frog if he'd just sit still!
I know I could catch that frog if he’d just sit still!