Friday, April 10, 2015

The glorious ah-ha moment

Arrival is barely controlled chaos.  I'm not sure of total person counts, but eleven classes-worth of students have had their final class sessions this Friday morning. They've checked out of their hotel rooms and packed their fabrics and projects and sewing machines in their cars, or turned in rental machines and loaded up their suitcases for transportation to airports or trains. And maybe, because it's included, have stayed for their final lunch in the dining hall.

We, the next session, are arriving Friday afternoon.  We can check into the hotel at three, and pick up our class information at 3:30. Our class unpacking and first class meetings run from four to 5:30. Dinner is at six.

My room is not ready at three. I can't get my room card until dinner time.

I'm at Session IV of Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar Conference Grounds. It's 5-day Quiltmaking Workshops at the conference grounds' "Refuge by the Sea" in Pacific Grove, California.
That circled paragraph below in Jenny Bowker's Shimmering Triangles class beckoned me. I  have a huge stash of fabric collections, including Kaffe Fassetts, with big beautiful prints that I've never figured out how to use. Even though the tiny photo of one of Jenny's quilts looked looks like bright solid colors, I cross my fingers and pack the boxes with the Kaffe Fassets and other large prints and bright colors.

Four big boxes of fabric and two sewing machines and I discover I've only brought three days worth of clothes. I receive helpful suggestions that I can sew up some clothes from my fabrics. Surely you jest!? 

When I get ready to cut some fabrics, I also discover I left behind my cutting mat and cutting rulers. I visualize exactly where I left the cardboard sleeve with the rulers and mat in it: leaning against a kitchen counter.

Fortunately, a quilt store sets up shop on premises to provide us with necessities and temptations. Here are my new mat and rulers. There is a strange learning curve to these rulers.

Jenny begins with showing us what we will be doing in our second project. This is a Shimmering Triangles quilt. Indeed, it is made with large Kaffe Fasset prints.

Here is a close-up of some of her quilting, done on a household model Bernina, which she uses for all her quilting.

Seen from the back side . . .

One of Jenny's tile quilts, which she taught in Session III.

Another of her tile quilts. She gives our class a mini lesson on tile quilt making.

Here is a sample of what will be our third project, a quick and easy small quilt.

Finally, after class set up, I get to look for my room. It turns out to be as far as possible from my sewing room. (I timed my back shots exactly for all this anticipated hiking!)  I have a good underground parking place but no direct access to the building I'm staying in. I must pull my luggage train out the entrance ramp, then walk around to the entrance to my building. King size bed, roomy room, simple amenities (i.e., no phones or TV . . . but there is wi-fi).

I hike back to the dining hall for dinner, then to Merrill Hall for the evening program. Each night, students do show and tell, then several instructors talk about their courses, with various types of demonstrations. It gives a chance to see what kind of work every class is doing. This first presentation is a collection of antique quilts.

And then I get totally lost trying to find my way back to my hotel room in the dark. It's a long, cold walk, but I finally find my way to my toasty home-away-from-home. My suitcase and rolling backpack sit unopened in the middle of the room. Typical of me not to unpack in the room until the last instant.

The next morning I pay particular attention how to get back to the dining hall and the sewing room. I do not deviate from that path going to and from my room, even though there might be other scenic routes.

Project one begins on our first full day. We learn a simple method to make eight half-square triangles out of two pieces of fabric, and how to calculate the size of the pieces of fabric for any size half square triangle we need. This technique will be at the basis of our projects in this class.

I sew the blocks for project number one, but I don't finish on time to make a plan for joining them. They will wait for an opportunity.

Lunch break. After I eat, I take in a little air. The wind is too brisk to walk down to the beach but I walk around closer in to the dining hall and work room.

People having picnics

The seagull is on the post before I take the shot, then flies away.
I believe I've missed it altogether and only discover it when I look through my photos.

Jenny shows several different layouts that can be made from the blocks she's made from the half-square triangles.

Blocks need not be made of bright colors as JoAnn's piece demonstrates.

More of Jenny's quilting

Our first lesson on how to do shimmering triangles . . .

A peek at the ocean . . .

We start our own shimmering quilts by choosing focus blocks. Here I dig into my Kaffe Fasset daisies in different colorways. It's a start . . . .

Somone is way ahead of me. (I'm slow but steady, I tell Jenny.)

I've added a couple of blender blocks here.

Shelly is ahead of everyone, but I think she cut her fabric before she came. If you look closely, you can see she has two Singer Featherweights on her table. No wonder she can sew twice as fast. The shimmering between the blocks is apparent now.

Some shimmering is beginning to show up in my quilt. I have the ah-ha moment when I understand what the correct placement of the blocks is. Jenny comments, "I see you got it." "Slow but sure."

This is sooo much fun. Visions of boxes of fabrics being turned into shimmering quilts begin to dance in my head.

Let me tell you now about the fabulous Jenny.  First we notice the accent. What is it?  Aussie. She wants to explain her hair, which she seems somewhat self-conscious about. Recently completed her breast cancer treatment and it's growing back.
Abu Aziz, Damascus, Mended stools.
The Bedouin woman & her oranges. Making a quilt for her house Hija'a
The Shipwreck Coast on the South Coast of Victoria
Looking Back at Science, Earthskin Quilts
Quilts for tACTile, First Exhibition Pathways

Jenny gives instructions one morning for project three and a lot of people make two to three hour quilt tops. I don't listen to the lesson. Old slow-but-sure is working on her shimmers, but I have the written instructions for project. I suspect this is made with larger half-square triangles.

Jenny demonstrates how she does free motion quilting on the Bernina. She does this on her king-sized quilts the same way, "slowly," as she describes it.

Shelley's shimmering triangles are nearly filled in,

I love this subtle shimmering quilt.

From Jenny Bowker's book, "Pack and Follow." © 2011 Jenny Bowker  Book created and designed by Andrew Boyer, using Blurb creative service. Blurb-provided layout designs and graphic elements are copyright Blurb Inc., 2011.

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