Monday, August 29, 2011

Vacation Round-Up

I mentioned in my previous post that I recently returned from vacation. It was an incredibly relaxing couple of weeks (yes, I said COUPLE). I'm not sure when we last took two actual weeks for R&R, but we did this time.
Friends helped print the signs

The bride's dress, elegantly simple, suited her perfectly
The first part of the vacation was spent at a wedding in Wisconsin. It was a lovely event during which the bride and groom's siblings played piano and bass and read poems. Every audience member got a kazoo when walking in, and we all joined in on All You Need is Love as the couple and their families left the auditorium.
Cupcakes rested on hand-dyed, hand-cut papers
 The reception was special in many ways, but I thought you'd especially appreciate that the bride made gazillions of lovely decorations...hand-dyed paper garlands on the walls, "doilies" under the cupcakes, letter press printed programs, place cards, table numbers, etc. She also created some enormous honeycomb structures that held lights for the ceremony, as well smaller ones that adorned the reception tables. It was a joyful event with lots of fun dancing.

Table decor, made by the bride
Loved the stitching on this guest's jacket
I'll share a few photos of the next part of the vacation soon. It included sewing and knitting, along with floating in inner tubes and drinking beer. Now there's no need to wonder why I was so relaxed and suffering from my return to real life. It doesn't get any more restful than that.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

You May Already Be A Weiner!

We have a winner (weiner), chosen by my random number generator, my husband. The winner is Vicky F. Send your snail mail to me, Vicky, and get ready to enjoy a fantastic volume!

Thanks to all who entered. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to write some really wonderful tales about your friends in fabric—touching, funny, sweet, and sometimes bittersweet. If you haven't read them, I encourage people to take the time to do so. They're proof of the bond created by textiles.

Today's photo is one from my vacation at the lake. We got back a week ago today and I still haven't accepted that it's time to get back to reality. The picture gives you an idea of why re-entry is so's a lovely, soothing, and Internet-free place. Next time I'll post some photos of the witch blocks I stitched on a rainy afternoon in the cabin.

Thanks again for writing, and I hope you continue reading Pearl the Squirrel. And continue sewing with your friends in fabric.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Friends in Fabric, Redux...and a Give-Away!

I've written previously about the friends I've made through textiles, and it's time to mention two of them again. My buddies Mary Lou Weidman and Mel McFarland are not only two of the most down-to-earth, most fun, and most talented women I know, but they've come together to create a new book Out of the Box with Easy Blocks: Fun with Free-Form Quilting.

I've had the good fortune to hear about and see bits and pieces of the book as the quilts came together, and last fall in Lake Tahoe I even got to make a shoe block that wound up (on page 71, in case you're looking) in a quilt featured in the book's gallery of quilts.

Mary Lou's French fabric pineapple quilt
If you've read Pearl the Squirrel for awhile, you've heard the tale of how we all met—I interviewed Mary Lou for an American Patchwork and Quilting article and she wound up inviting me, a total stranger, to Quilt Market. And there I met Mel who turns out to live not too far from my parents in California. Since then I've had the opportunity to get together with them in Lake Tahoe (here and here) to sew. I also took a class from Mary Lou at John C. Campbell in January 2010. So despite our geographic differences, our paths have crossed, all thanks to fabric and sewing.

Mel & cow quilt at my parents' home in S.Cal
The new book really reflects Mary Lou and Mel's spirits—lots of cheerful imagery that celebrates special occasions and the everyday. The patterns give you an opportunity to create quilts for birthdays or babies and there are fantastic instructions to create the cow quilt, letters, cats, fruit, and more. After you've tried a few of them, you'll be ready to make just about anything you want.

So, in honor of my fabulous friends and their colorful, inspiration-filled volume, I'm giving a copy away. For a chance to win, leave a comment about one of your friends in fabric—at the very least, tell me her or his first name, and if you're feeling chatty, tell us a story about that friendship. One lucky commenter will be selected at random to receive a copy of Out of the Box with Easy Blocks!

Last day to comment will be Friday, August 26, so get cracking! I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Digging into Your Past and Finding Your Future

I mentioned that I've joined the local rowing club, and the experience got me thinking about the way things resurface in life—those things you used to do, but don't anymore. 

There are entire periods of life when it's possible to be obsessed with some activity—car repair, canning, going to movies, playing cribbage—and then for one reason or another you quit. Sometimes it's circumstances—you move and no longer have a garage to store your old Corvair, or you have a baby and the hours you spent in darkened theaters with a box of buttered popcorn are now filled with weighing the pros and cons of bibs and bottle warmers. Or maybe you fixate on something new and different and it overtakes your former preoccupation.

Sometimes these old passions disappear forever, but as I've gotten older I find that often they reappear, albeit in a slightly different form. I realize that part of what I love about rowing is that I’ve always enjoyed being on the water in a small boat—I've taken numerous canoe trips, taught sailing, and in high school I was on a flat water kayaking team. Sewing is the same—I quit for many years, and then a friend taught me to quilt and my love of stitching returned. My old obsessions may have morphed, but the fact that they’ve resurfaced makes me think they're an essential part of me. I may not see the connection right away, but eventually I look back and see the pattern—of fascination, absorption, and exhilaration.

How about you? Is there something you do today that is linked to a passion from your past? What did it used to be and what does it look like now?