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Wonky Log Cabin and More New Quilt

s quilt outside cb2-3This is my first wonky log cabin block. I have admired these in other places, but I hadn’t quite figured out how to do it myself so my friend Julie and I scheduled a wonky block get-together and I managed. I like the way it turned out and I’ve started the next one. This could be my next project.

s quilt outside cb2-2In the meantime, I worked more on my other quilt and took some (hopefully) better photographs of it. I should have known better than to try to get a good picture in the house on the floor in bad light. This time I took it outside and used natural light. Like I said, I should have known better. This photo also gives you a better idea of the size of the quilt. It’s still little bitty.

s quilt outside cb2 with wonkyI haven’t decided whether this is one long panel of a quilt with some long solid panels, too, or whether this is just a fraction of what will be a quilt that is all bits and pieces like this. Do you have an opinion?

Maybe I’ll figure out how to combine the bits and pieces and the wonky square??

s quilt outside cb2-4My boys are into their second week of Campbell Boys Camp for Boys (or CB squared). Here are some shots of them.

I just finished Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett (my second time; we selected it for book group) and D and I are in the middle of The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas. N just finished Unwind by Neal Shusterman. He liked it and requested more. I’ve put holds on several of his others. G just finished The Ancient by R.A. Salvatore. Soon it will be time for the official summer reading.

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New Quilt

s not white quiltHere’s the beginning of my latest quilt project. I’m not sure what I’m doing, but I wanted it to be random and organic. I chose all shades of brown, black, and white. As I go, I’ll be adding some purple, gold, and blue. Some of the people in my life may understand the significance. We’ll see how this goes. It was so much fun to spend a few hours in the sewing room this week.

In the meantime, I have been doing lots of reading. Some is research: A Class of Their Own: Black Teachers in the Segregated South by Adam Fairclough. Some is for fun: SUM: Forty Tales of the Afterlife by David Eagleman. Some is for the boys: Max Quigley, Technically Not a Bully by James Roy and The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas.

Wedding Photographs

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Here are some photographs Richard took during his sister’s wedding. Liz, who is much younger than Richard, married Jon last weekend in Auburn, Maine. We flew up for the wedding; it was great to meet Jon and his family and to see Richard’s Dad, who had flown in from England. Richard’s Mom, sister Sophie, neice Harriet, and aunt Mirella watched/interacted with the wedding from back in Melksham using a Skype connection.

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These are two of Jon’s neices. Liz (then called Elizabeth) was the flower girl in Richard’s and my wedding. She told me on the day. “I’m going to be gorgeous.” And, she was. Just like these two.

Richard did not use a flash during the wedding. He set up the camera on a monopod (the tripod was too big for the suitcase) and used a lens that does well with an open f-stop.

The official photos were taken outside next to a pond. It was chilly out there — though the cold kept the ground hard enough that the bare patches weren’t muddy. Even in high heels, the women were able to stand near the water’s edge.

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Here’s Liz with the quilt that I made for her and Jon. I posted a photograph of the blocks¬† during its construction here.

Yes! Keep the Arts in our Schools

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Regular readers of the blog know that I believe the arts are an essential part of successful learning environments. As soon as my first son went to school, I started volunteering to help with arts projects, reading, and bringing artists into his school. As the other two followed, I became even more involved, eventually directing an annual grants budget of $20,000 to bring authors, illustrators, quilters, a paper maker, a mosaic artist, a storyteller, and a mixed media artist into the classrooms. Now that my sons are older, I am doing more of my own creative work as an author and photographer.

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I remain committed to the arts in classrooms. I recently visited St. Richard’s Catholic School to conduct professional development in arts integration. I am also nearly finished with a mini-residency at Davis Magnet IB World School, where I have been helping second graders learn about their neighborhood through photography. This blog is being featured right now on the Resources page of Keeping Arts in Schools, an advocacy group. Another local mother who shares my interest in arts integration also blogs about it. Visit her Art Smart Parents blog.

Sewing at St. Richard’s

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During today’s visit, three fourth grade classes embellished quilt blocks they had made in art class prior to my visit. Each student made choices about whether to add fabric or whether to use embroidery thread alone to accent their pictures. They had drawn pictures on muslin squares and colored them using fabric markers. In each session, we had extra teachers helping to keep needles threaded and to help in other ways.

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St. Richard’s School Visit

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I spent the day at St. Richard’s Catholic School — with two distinct assignments. First, I conducted three teacher workshops on integrating quilting into the curriculum and, second, I did two Wolfsnail presentations. St. Richard’s is a Whole School as designated by the Mississippi Arts Commission, which means that arts is integrated into teaching across the curriculum. Art Teacher Gene Everitt took this photograph of me during the teacher workshop.

The two Wolfsnail presentations were for first graders and second graders. My mother came in for the first Wolfsnail presentation because I asked her to videotape one of my readings. I am considering applying to join the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Teaching Artist Roster and the application requires recordings of presentations with students and with teachers. I am already a member of the MAC’s Artist Roster. The difference between the two is that in addition to maintaining artistic excellence and being able to share the arts practice and technique with students, teaching Artists are expected to have some expertise in developing lesson plans and in guiding teachers as they develop lesson plans.

The Davis Magnet School librarian also let me use the Davis camcorder to record my recent photo-selection work with Davis second graders. Between the two, I hope to have enough usable material.

Two Kinds of Log Cabins

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Here’s the knitted log cabin blanket I started when I was recuperating from my surgery. The pattern is from Mason Dixon knitting. The yarn felt wonderful to work with and the colors kept me happy. I am sending it to a relative as a late Christmas present. She’s having some tough health problems, too, so I hope it will bring her some comfort. You followers of this blog will know that I also knitted a hat during my recuperation. The two were very different projects. The log cabin blanket involved just plain knitting, knitting, and more knitting. The hat involved knitting in the round, purling, counting stitches, etc. I think I’ll try to keep a log cabin knitting project going most of the time — it’s so simple and keeps my hands busy. Plus, I have lot of little bits of yarn left. My friend, Julie Owen, turned me on to log cabin knitting this summer when she would turn up at the pool with knitting when I turned up with quilting.

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Now for the kind of log cabin I am more familiar with — a quilt. My first log cabin project, when I was a teenager, was a Christmas table cloth. It turned out so well that I made a bunch of them. My grandmothers, my godmother, and our family’s best friends all got Christmas table cloths that year. I had never tried a full-sized log cabin quilt until now. I chose yellow, blue, creams, tans, and browns. At first I had it laid out in diagonal lines, but Richard suggested this layout and I love it.

Update: The Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book stickers I ordered arrived today so I went to Lemuria to leave them enough for their signed stock. Here’s a post on A Year of Reading by a teacher who went by her local bookstore and picked up a copy of Wolfsnail.

Favorite Holiday Shots — Photo Tuesday

There’s nothing like arriving at grand-mother’s house to a delicious meal — though, in this case, it was grandfather’s doing. A lovely bowl of penne pasta with a savory sauce. Mmmm. Dad also served warm french bread with a crispy crust. My sister made a tasty salad. The grownups had glasses of wine and we ate Dad’s spiced walnuts for dessert.

I like this one because it shows my 10-year-old wearing the fleece robe I made for him for Christmas. I ordered double sided fleece and got a quick sew pattern from a local sewing store. Today, now that it is cold enough to wear the robe, Douglas found a pin near the right pocket. Oops. My newfangled Bernina sewing machine came in handy because it has a double overlock stitch. The boys had no idea why I was keeping them out of the sewing room in the days before Christmas. I ordered yardage in two other colors (cappuccino and dark navy) for the older boys. They are deciding if they want robes or caftans.

New Block

Here’s my latest quilt block. It incorporates an interesting number pattern. The two innermost squares are 1-inch squares, the next is a 2-inch square, the next a 3-inch square, the next a 5-inch square, the next an 8-inch square, the last a 13-inch square. 1,1,2,3,5,8,13. Can you see the relationship between the numbers? (Hint: If I were to continue the pattern, the next square would be a 21-inch square.) This pattern was first identified in the 13th Century by a famous mathematician named Fibonacci.

(For all of you who are quilters, I cut the squares out with an extra 1/2 inch for the seam allowance so the finished squares would conform to the Fibonacci sequence.)

The spiral is made from a shiny ribbon-like thread. I sewed it to the top of the block using a couching foot. It can be seen in nature in the Nautilus snail shell (like the one to the right). At first I tried a cord (in hunter green), but it pulled the fabric too tight into the spiral and the block wouldn’t lay flat. I ripped it out with the seam ripper. I don’t particularly like to rip out sewing — especially tight stitches.

I was listening to a podcast of a writer talking about her work as I sewed (and ripped). I thought about the ripping as a kind of revising. I tend to like revising better than creating an original text. This doesn’t hold for the sewing. I was tempted to just begin another Fibonacci block and toss the one I had ruined with the cording. But I did like the colors of the squares inside the block so I took a deep breath and ripped.

Getting Back to Pretty Pictures

I was sitting on the porch one evening in June and noticed the contrast between the crepe myrtles and the peace lily. I thought the image might make a nice wall-hanging — if I transferred the shapes and colors to fabric. Once I saw it on screen and noticed all of those circles in the background, I shied away from that idea. I can’t imagine sewing that many overlapping circles. But I still love the colors. This is certainly one of those times when I want the background to be soft.