Sunday, June 24, 2012

Denyse Schmidt follow-up

I had the great good fortune to interview Denyse Schmidt in Kansas City during May's Quilt Market. The results appeared on Etsy earlier this month and from the comments it's clear that she's been a source of inspiration to so many. It was also clear when my traveling buddy, Codi, found out I was going to interview her, just how influential she's been to people who might not have thought of themselves as quilters—Codi told me that she'd never been that interested in making a quilt until she saw Denyse's first book.

Denyse said a lot of very thoughtful things during our interview, but one that really struck me was when she bemoaned the loss of home ec sewing classes in school. "If people don't know how to sew, they don't even have a reference point for what they buy and whether it's well-made," she said. So true. I remember my mom spending a lot of time teaching me to line up my stripes and plaids and though I haven't made garments in years, I've always looked for that when I buy clothing.

One of the things Codi said to me about Denyse is that she seems to have stayed true to herself for so many years and that came through loud and clear during our interview. When I asked her about it, Denyse said "There's a divide between art, craft, and design and I've straddled all three. At some point you just have to do what you do and not worry about how it's defined and who's paying attention." Denyse is a prime example of someone whose vision was clear, even when it didn't fit with the norms of "quilting" or "modern quilting" or any defined movement or art form. She admitted that the way she's done things hasn't always been the most profitable. But she noted that she had worked long and hard on her first book and that she's still proud of it. "It had to be something I could live with for a long time," she said. And it's her attitude about quilting, too, that a quilt you'll live with for a long time (think, antique quilts) needn't be stitched quickly, but can be something you put down and return to over weeks or months or even years. A challenging attitude in this "get-it-done-fast-and-check-it-off-the-list" mentality that I so often fall prey to.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Her Royal Majesty

So Pearl the Squirrel has been quiet because I've been away. My husband had work in Ireland and I tagged along, first Belfast, then Dublin, then the west country (Galway, Roundstone, Westport). The Irish people were incredibly friendly, the Irish food (especially the seafood) delicious, and yes, it did pour rain a few days, but we still had a bit of good weather to enjoy the countryside, which was indeed a lush green.

The downside of the trip was that I got sick the very first day and it wasn't until the day before we came home that I felt anything close to myself. That first day I stayed in bed all day long, and the bright spot was that it was the last day of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee festivities, covered minute-by-minute on BBC television. I was totally enthralled with watching the Queen go from activity to activity, in coach and carriage, with her son and daughter-in-law and without her husband (who was in hospital, also sick). I was amazed by her stamina, amused by the announcers who kept trying to attach emotion to her nearly unchanging expression ("She seems to be missing her husband." "She seems touched by the crowd's attentions."), and struck by the fact, watching everyone curtsy and bow to her as she left the church, that we curtsy and bow to no one in the United States. Her citizenry seem to genuinely love her—many slept out overnight to be able to stand and watch her coach pass by them on the Mall or to see her wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

There were myriad souvenirs of the event to be had—I got a lovely bone china mug from friends, so I can honor the Queen with my daily cuppa— but one of the best has to be this limited edition color guide to the Queen's 60 years of perfectly coordinated outfits, created by Pantone and Leo Burnett London. For more information, including an explanation of the meaning behind a few of the Queen's color choices, visit Pantone's blog.)

God Save the Queen!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Peek at OTHER Cool Blogs

When I'm conducting research for various articles I come across amazing blogs, websites, and projects. Much of what I research is for articles that won't appear in print for another four to six months and I can't share what I've found without scooping the magazine—a no-no. 

But I've decided that on an irregular basis I'm going to share those with you that I can (without scooping publications, of course), and include links to sites and projects that I'm intrigued and inspired by—kind of my own personal Pinterest. 

How I get to these sites is often a mystery to me—you know the way one thing leads to another and another and another on the Internet and suddenly it's 2 p.m. and the neighbor kid selling fruit to support his show choir trip knocks on your door and you've still got bedhead and are wearing 10-year-old pjs and no make-up and are sure he'll tell his mother about the crazy shut-in who bought 50 pounds of grapefruit and you'll be the talk of the neighborhood? Yes, sometimes I'm that person and sometimes that's how I find these sites. At least someone should get something useful out of my questionable neighborhood reputation, right? 

So here's a blog I came across today: Clover and Violet. First—Jenny and Clara are a mother-and-daughter team who drink coffee, sew together, and have the most perfect, matching white teeth ever. (Am I jealous? Yes.) But I'll forgive them because they share lots of fabulous tutorials and embroidery info on their blog, as well as have an Etsy shop where they sell their patterns. Although I don't have a Kindle, I was especially taken with their clever Kindle cover that uses the currently on-trend hexagon. Check them out!