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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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A Peek at Spring Quilt Market

International Quilt Market Pittsburgh 2014
International Quilt Market Pittsburgh 2014

If you are in the quilt business, you know to save a few days each May for the Spring Quilt Market. This industry trade show gives me the opportunity to meet shop owners and show them my new fabrics and quilt designs.  As a shop owner myself, I’m able to meet the vendors with whom I do business, to discover new products to carry in the Studio, to see old friends and make new ones.

Before market begins is something called “Schoolhouse” where manufacturers, publishers and designers like me get to present our latest products. Shop owners can hear first-hand about the merchandise they will be selling from the people who created them. I spoke about my Palette Pixie Strips and their accompanying quilts, my new calipers and, most exciting, my next fabric collection, Bedfordshire.

market schoolhouse
Upcoming Collection for 2014 – Bedfordshire

Once Market begins, retailers have the opportunity to visit hundreds of booths with every kind of product which could possibly be of interest to quilters. I shopped for interesting patterns and new notions to carry in the Studio and online. Much of my time, though, is spent in the RJR booth meeting shop owners and learning about their customers’ interests.

marketrjr2
How do you like the quilt in the middle? You get a sneak peek at the quilt I designed for my Bedfordshire collection.

What I probably enjoy most are the wonderful people I get to meet, those whose products I sell (and use!) and other designers.

market people photo
Top left: Audrey Brendel of Pin Peddlers
Top right: Jenny Doan of The Missouri Star Quilt Company
Lower left: Kathy Thompson of Quilters Dream
Lower right: Eleanor Burns

Of course, one of my favorite things to do is looking at all the quilts. Even though I have been designing fabric for many years, I still get a thrill when I come across quilts in other booths which have my fabrics in them. Here are two I spotted. Didn’t these quilters do a wonderful job?

quilts from market
Gayle Ropp of Backroom Quilter, Twelve Days of Baltimore by Pearl Pereira – quilted by Karen Marchetti

Inspiring.  That’s the word I would use to sum up Market. The room was filled with a creative spirit. Handwork seems to be celebrating a resurgence. It was exciting to see this interest in a skill you and I have loved for years.

Also, I was so encouraged to see the number of young people there who have entered the business presenting their designs and products. They give the industry a sense of vitality and reminded that quilting should be FUN. Yes, market is always inspiring and I’ve brought back some new products and ideas I can’t wait to share with you in the coming months.

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Piecing in the Air with Jinny

First, ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR AIRLINES BEFORE TRYING TO BRING ANYTHING ON BOARD.Jinny has been piecing on the go for decades so she has all of this down pat.  Here’s what she always carries:

Here’s what our staffers like to travel with, besides the usual needles, thread, etc., whether by plane, by car, or just sitting in a doctor’s waiting room:

Barb – Sewline needle threader

Cecile – Yazzie bag

Carole – favorite thimble.  “I took a cheap thimble on a trip and I wish I had brought a good one.”

Diane (our notions guru) – Studio magnetic needle-minder, spoon for quilting, needle case, Sewline Trio Colors marking pencil, and needle grippers.

Linda – desktop needle threader. “It cuts thread and has a magnet to pick up stray needles, threads perfectly every time and can go through security without the worries of scissors.”

Nancy – needle threader, Clover Thread Cutter Pendent and Perfect Piecer. “Those items and everything else get thrown into a mesh bag which fits in my purse.”

Eunice – Seam ripper (“because I am prone to mistakes”), Perfect Piecer, extra fabric (“to replace pieces of patchwork that I lose”), extra needles (“ I always drop or misplace at least one”)

Jane – Clover Thread Cutter Pendent and extra needles

Happy Quilting!
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My Journey to Indonesia

I recently returned from a fabulous trip to Indonesia. The trip was in two parts. First I visited the company in Solo that is printing my batik collections. I was able to see the entire process from start to finish. Everything is done by hand and it is amazing to watch the process. I came away in awe that we pay so little per yard for the amount of labor that goes into each pattern.

The second part of my journey was spent in Bali. Jim West the founder of the tour company “Sew Many Places” asked me to be the guest quilter on his Bali tour. It was spectacular. Jim certainly knows how to run a tour. We stayed in a first class resort and took day trips from there. We did lots of sight seeing, sewing and eating the delicious Indonesian food! Here are a few photos I’d like to share from my trip.

Did you know?

  • Indonesia is made up of a series of islands. Each Island has it own language and many sub languages and dialects. In fact there are more than 700 living languages spoken in the country. Other than Indonesian (the official language) the next most used is Javanese and then Sudanese.
  • The art of batik making in Indonesia was developed on the island of Java. When selecting the name for my batik collection, I chose the word malam, the Javanese word for wax. This was confusing to some people because malam is also a word in the Indonesian language that means night.
  • In the process of batik making:
  1. The cloth is dyed one or more colors.
  2. Next the cap (pronounced chop) is dipped into melted wax and then pressed onto the fabric.  The cap is made from copper and it takes anywhere from 10 days to a month to create the cap.
  3. After the wax is stamped onto the fabric, the cloth is bleached. The places where there is wax will not bleach and will retain the color of the original dye.
  4. Then the cloth is again dyed the desired color for the background to the cap design.
  5. The fabric is then boiled to melt and remove the wax.
  6. Finally it will be sent to the “finishing” facility to go through the process of setting the dyes.
  7. The cloth is dyed one or more colors.

Happy Quilting!