Posted on 4 Comments

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.

Posted on 45 Comments

The Magical Golden Ratio

It’s been said that the golden ratio (also called the golden proportion, golden mean or Phi) is the perfect proportion. The golden ratio certainly seems to have magical properties. It occurs in nature, in the human body and in animals, in ancient art and architecture, even in many of our quilt designs. Let’s do a little test. Pick out the illustration you find the most pleasing in each row. test I have given this test many times over the past decade and usually 75% will pick A, B, and B. If you picked these, you picked the shapes which have the Golden Ratio. So what is the golden ratio? OK, here comes some math. (Warning! Your eyes may be in danger of glazing over and your mind may wander. Never fear: it is only two sentences long.) It is the division of a line segment where the ratio is 1 to 1.618, one being the shorter length and 1.618 the longer one. It can also be the ratio of .618 to 1 where .618 is the shorter segment and 1 is the larger.

Shells
Most spirals found in nature fit the proportions of the golden ratio.

You will find that this ratio has been used throughout history. Some examples include the Greek Parthenon, the Great Pyramid at Giza, the paintings of Leonardo DaVinci. However, a truly fascinating aspect of this magical ratio is that it occurs so often in nature. For example, in a beehive there are fewer male bees than female bees. The ratio of males to females is the golden ratio! A pinecone has two sets of spirals, one with less spirals than the other…..the relationship between them is again the golden ratio. Look at the photos above of the shell and Romanesco broccoli as another example. The golden ratio is even evident throughout the human body, in the measurement from the top of the head to the chin and from the chin to the navel and from the navel to the floor. Measurements from the elbow to the wrist and wrist to the tip of the middle finger also fall into the golden proportion. If you are like me, you don’t like carrying a calculator around all the time and doing math, but you might be curious as to the proportions of various objects. Because of this I developed the Golden Gauge Calipers. This is a handy tool that eliminates the math and lets you see the golden proportions in objects. As the calipers are opened the shorter segment in relation to the longer one is the golden ratio and vice versa. 2. calipers open and closed When the calipers are opened so that the narrow space is the size of the width of oval A you will see that the wider portion of the calipers is the height. The same is true with triangle B. If you open the calipers to the narrow portion across the base of the triangle, the height will be the space between the wider portion of the calipers.

3. calipers on oval
Oval A

With the calipers on the Mariner’s compass B notice that the width of the smaller center circle is in “golden proportion” to the distance from the edge of that circle to the edge of the larger circle. calipers on compass Many patchwork designs contain divisions that are either very close to or exactly the golden ratio. Are designs with golden proportions more pleasing to the eye?  Take a look at Duck and Ducklings and Whirling Five Patch, shown here. It is apparent that the designs have the same basic pattern. The difference is that one is drafted on a 5 x 5 grid and the other on a 14 x 14 grid. Which one is most appealing to you? I personally find Duck and Ducklings a little clunky and like the fact that Whirling Five Patch contains divisions that are not all the same. The Golden Gauge Calipers placed on the design shows that the width of the center division to the adjacent one almost fits golden ratio proportions.

two blocks side by side
Duck & Ducklings and Whirling Five Patch

The Whirling Five Patch with calipersUnknowingly, quilters when planning widths for borders automatically choose this proportion because it “feels” right. In one of the upcoming blogs we will take a look at borders and how to determine a pleasing size.

Posted on 2 Comments

How to Get a Quilt Book Published…By Accident

People often ask me how I got into writing books. The first one came as a fluke and the others just fell into place.

I started teaching patchwork to small groups in my home in the mid 70’s and there were very few quilt books or patterns available. If you wanted a pattern for a quilt you had to draft it yourself. I figured out that most square patchwork designs were based on a “grid”. The square was divided into a grid of 3 x 3, 4 x 4, 5 x 5 etc. If you knew what grid was used for the block, it was simply a matter of following the lines of the grid to get the design.

Mosaic together

I figured out a no math way to fold paper to get the designs and after teaching it for a few years people were amazed at how easy it. Let’s use the block above, a 4×4 grid which is simpler than it seems. Decide what size block you want and make a square that size out of paper. Fold the square in half, side to side, then in half again, bottom to top. This will produce a “grid” of four squares. Can you see now how the design is created? If not, fold it in half each way again. Now you can see that is made up of simple half-square triangles.

So one day, my Quilters’ Newsletter magazine arrived and in it was an article on how to draft an eight-pointed star. It talked about the Pythagorean Theorem, pi and all sorts of other math terminology. I was completely confused, particularly since I had figured out a very easy way to draft the design by folding paper.

Bonnie Leman_1991_LCPQ_74
Bonnie Leman

I wrote a letter to Bonnie Leman, founder and editor of Quilters’ Newsletter, and showed her my method. In a rash moment, I also wrote, “Furthermore I’m explaining this and how to draft other patterns in the book I am writing on pattern drafting.”

Bonnie phoned me when she received my letter and said how she was so excited about my book and who was publishing it? I kind of hemmed and hawed and said I didn’t have a publisher yet. She said that she might be interested in publishing it and could I bring what I have done so far to a conference we would both be attending the next month. I didn’t want to tell Bonnie that I hadn’t actually started the book, so for the next month I prepared outlines, did illustrations, wrote sample chapters, etc.

Patchwork PatternsWhile it turned out to be a larger project than Bonnie imagined, she encouraged me to find another publisher, and I did. My first book, Patchwork Patterns, had 500 patterns and was organized in categories according to the grid used for drafting them. The book is out of print and I’ve written other, more comprehensive ones since, but that one is still special to me. So that, my friends, is how you accidentally get a quilt book published.

An upcoming blog post will show you how to figure out the grid.

Posted on 14 Comments

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!
Posted on 1 Comment

Me & Heartbleed

heartbleedAlthough I use a computer all the time when designing my fabrics and quilts, my staff will be the first to tell you that I’m not really a very technical person. So all the chatter about the Heartbleed bug on the internet had me confused and concerned.

Fortunately, I have very good technical people working for me and they were able help me understand what was going on AND take care of the issue quickly. I thought you might be interested in what I learned:

1) Heartbleed is the name given to a bug in a key piece of internet security software that about two-third of websites use — including jinnybeyer.com.

2) The bug was discovered BEFORE any known attacks were made taking advantage of that bug.

3) Most banks and financial services companies, and some super-big online stores such as Amazon, were never vulnerable to Heartbleed.

4) The bug is relatively easy to fix.  Many large websites (such as Google) have already made their fixes. We made the fix to jinnybeyer.com last week, on April 11. I knew that we do not store credit card information on our website and was relieved to learn that the company which takes care of that for us was never vulnerable to Heartbleed.

5) Some security experts are suggesting changing passwords on websites once the fix has been made to that site. As a result, we are suggesting to customers who have accounts on jinnybeyer.com that they change their passwords.  If you have an account on jinnybeyer.com, you can change the password here.  And I guess I’ll be changing passwords on some of my favorite websites, too!

I love what technology brings to my quilting world, and I’ve certainly done my share of shopping online. But I really do wish that we could somehow get only the good from the internet and not all the negative possibilities.  That being said, I am grateful to my crack staff who keeps me in the know on these issues and to the people and companies I rely on to keep our website running safely and reliably.

Posted on 2 Comments

Yesterday, Today, & Temari

I have an incredible group of people who work at the Studio. It is always hard to find suitable ways to tell them thank you for all they do. It is particularly hard at holiday time to come up with an unusual gift.

photo 2

Last fall, my husband’s college roommate and his wife came for a visit and stayed with us for a few days. The woman loved my quilting and shared that she was a temari ball maker. She brought up several web sites and showed me photos of balls she has made.

How could a quilter not be enthralled with these amazing geometric pieces of art? I was definitely intrigued. I went to Quilt Market in Houston shortly after their visit and my publisher had a couple of temari ball books written by a well known temari ball maker, Barbara Suess.

IMG_0248

Bottom line, I decided to invite Barbara to come teach at my shop for two days. One day would be for the general public and the other day would be a special workshop for all my staff. I decided that this would be a perfect Christmas present. So when we had our holiday staff dinner, I presented them with Barbara’s book, Japanese Temari, gave them a Yazzi bag to house their Temari project and told them the date of the workshop.

IMG_0240

We had the workshop last week and it was fabulous! Barbara and her two protégés were wonderful instructors.  Starting with a knee-high stocking filled with rice hulls, the wrapping then began, with yarn first followed by thread. Soon the design took form with colorful perle cotton. Kristi finished her ball first and I made the biggest mess. We all had a great time and each of us produced a beautiful temari ball.

IMG_0249

If you have made any of my patchwork puzzle balls you will definitely be intrigued by these.

Posted on 88 Comments

Welcome to My Blog

I’m so excited to launch my blog, Jinny’s Corner!  Each week we’ll share news, tips and techniques, stories and other quilting-related information.  I hope you’ll visit here often.

photo (23)

Since this is a new feature, I thought I would answer some questions that you might be asking.

Can I receive new posts via email? Yes! To receive links to new Jinny’s Corner blog posts, just provide your email address in the box at the right on the blog home page. Each time we publish a new post, you’ll get an emailed link. It’s that easy.

You can also add our RSS blog feed to Live Bookmarks, MyYahoo, MyGoogle, MyMSN, Google Reader, etc. by clicking on the Subscribe to our Feed box at the right on the home page.

What if I have questions or comments on a particular post? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave us your comments in the box provided at the end of each post.

Can I catch up on posts I’ve missed?  Yes! A list of recent posts and complete blog Archives can be found at the right on the blog home page.

I hope you enjoy my blog. Please let me know what you think, and if there’s any particular quilting topic you’d like to read about.

My studio in historic Great Falls, Virginia
My studio in historic Great Falls, Virginia

Happy Quilting!

Jinny Beyer blog

Posted on 1 Comment

How to Cut Perfect Diamonds

feature photo ruler diamonds blog

In the last few years, I’ve been revisiting the diamond shape in patchwork, exploring new design possibilities and experimenting with shading and color. Although I love my chalk and scissors, I had to admit that rotary cutting fabric strips and patches was much faster. But I soon became convinced that there wasn’t a good ruler available to streamline the cutting, trimming and marking of diamond patches. (Trust me, I tried a bunch!)

Finally I decided to design my own ruler, which I call the 60 Degree Perfect Cut Ruler.  With it, you can measure and cut up to six inch diamonds, as well as equilateral triangles for six-pointed stars, that come out perfect every time.

 

Just line up the ruler with the strip to cut perfect diamonds
Just line up the ruler with the strip to cut perfect diamonds

 

You can also use the ruler for strips, so you don’t need one ruler for diamonds and triangles and another for strips. This ruler is great for cutting strips of the desired width, cutting out diamond or triangle patches, and trimming points. You can even mark intersecting angles when cutting Y intersections: simply mark the dots with a chalk mechanical pencil and then sew between the dots. It’s so easy! (There’s a video on my website where I demonstrate how to both machine sew and hand sew inset seams.)

 

It's easy to mark intersecting angles
It’s easy to mark intersecting angles

 

The ruler is small enough to slip into your bag when you travel but large enough so you can cut up to six inch fabrics at 1/4 inch intervals.

 

The ruler works well on any color fabric, light or dark.
The ruler works well on any color fabric, light or dark

 

Some people have asked me why I chose the green color for my ruler. The color may seem bright, but we experimented with many different colors, and this one shows up on any light or dark fabric – including prints.

My latest quilt, Florentine, includes 60 degree diamonds you can quickly and accurately cut and mark using my Perfect Cut 60º Diamond Ruler. The pattern is a free download from either RJR Fabrics or our website, and you can choose from two rich colorways. The quilt is made from fabrics from my Milan fabric collection, which is available from your local quilt shop.

 

My Florentine Quilt comes in two colorways
My Florentine Quilt comes in two colorways

 

I also make two additional sizes of diamond templates for cutting, trimming and marking seam intersections when cutting diamonds from 2 1/4″ or 2 1/2″ strips. They are available separately, as a set of two or in combination with my Perfect Cut 60 Degree Ruler.

To get more tips on using your Perfect Cut 60 Degree Ruler, visit the Tips section of our website.

Happy Quilting!

signature Jinny

Posted on 4 Comments

A Star is Born: More on the birth of our 2014 Block of the Month quilt

Starstruck quilt with light background
Starstruck quilt with light background

In my last post I talked about how the design elements for Starstruck, our 2014 Block of the Month quilt, changed along the way to completion. Today I thought I would share how I arrived at the rich color ways upon which the quilt was produced.

I started with my Renaissance Garden fabric collection, selecting the rich, warm tones of black, cinnabar and cream, which feel right at home next to a fireplace on a chilly evening. Although the effect is quite different, the quilt’s individual blocks look equally at home nestled against the dark or light background.

Last year we saw that our customers really enjoy being able to choose from several different color ways, so decided that this year we would give you that option again in our Block of the Month quilt.  If you’re looking for a more vibrant color scheme, I reworked the Starstruck design using cool blues and vivid yellows with teal accents, with either a blue border and light background, blue border and dark background, yellow border with light background or yellow border with dark background.

 

Cool blues add new vibrancy to the pattern
Cool blues add new vibrancy to the pattern
Brilliant yellows give a whole new feel.
Brilliant yellows give a whole new feel.

 

Each of these color variations really brings the quilt an energetic feel that will have you ready for Spring!

One thing you’ll notice about the design for this quilt is the fussy cut border. All 13 blocks have a fussy cut border print that really takes advantage of the convergence of the design elements to create a kaleidoscope effect.

My pattern includes helpful tips on how to work with fussy cuts. For example, if you’re working with your own fabric, make sure your fabric has a stripe that is 1 and 3/8 wide to use in your alternate blocks.

The inspiration for the paisley fabric and border print came from artwork of a paisley shawl design from the late 1800’s that I found in a design house. My border print came from manipulating that shawl pattern in new ways.

 

My border print was inspired by this drawing of a shawl.
My border print was inspired by this drawing of a shawl.

Happy Quilting!

signature Jinny


 

Posted on 28 Comments

Introducing Starstruck, Our 2014 Block of the Month Quilt

Starstruck quilt, dark and light backgrounds
Starstruck quilt, dark and light backgrounds

I’m really excited to introduce our 2014 Block of the Month quilt, called Starstruck, and thought I’d share how this particular quilt came to be.

Designing my quilts is an iterative process. Often, what I envision at the start takes on a life of its own, and by the time my design is completed it looks very different from how I thought it would look. I enjoy the journey, and when the design is finished I have learned along the way.

When I first created the blocks for Starstruck, I wanted 12 star blocks alternated with a “setting” block. The setting blocks were completed filled in. The blocks looked lovely by themselves but when I put them together with the stars in a repeated pattern, they looked choppy.

 

Original setting block
Original setting block
Original setting block with star blocks
Original setting block with star blocks

 

Wanting more flow to my design, I changed  the alternate block. I experimented with different options and finally took some of the small squares away from the setting block so that more background showed. That improved the design tremendously.

 

Final setting block
Final setting block
Dark quilt
Final Setting Block with Dark Quilt

 

Next I changed the dark background to a cream to give you variety.  But when I added the light background I lost the design continuity I had with the deeper color, and the blocks again looked too “individual” and static.

 

Quilt with light background loses continuity
Quilt with light background loses continuity

 

This time I consulted with my staff, and together we added small dark corner triangles to each of the stars.

 

Adding corner points to the stars is a subtle but effective change.
Adding corner points to the stars is a subtle but effective change.

What a difference! Now the squares harmonize and look great together and the overall effect is just what I had hoped for.

 

Light quilt with revised corners has continuity
Light quilt with revised corners has continuity

 

What makes this quilt so enjoyable to make is that each alternating block is different to give you added variety and a new challenge each month!

In my next post I’ll talk about how the Starstruck quilt’s color ways came to be.

Happy Quilting!

signature Jinny