Harrowing Evenings

The first week of school has been amazing! On top of friends, new exciting classes, and enthusiasm for research, I've had oodles of time to quilt! What a blast.

Mostly I've been binding. Oh, and I forgot: quilting all day Tuesday! Dr. Reid and I spent a harrowing Tuesday evening together in the company of Derek and Penelope, he chasing down serial killers and I strong-arming my largest quilt yet through my machine. Have no fear; we both came out on top. Bummer of all bummers, though, I finished the last episode in the last season of Criminal Minds at the same time as my quilting. (I suppose I can be thankful it was not before.)

Needless to say, with twenty feet of binding ahead of me, I need some new comrades to keep me company. The British hilarity of Top Gear has me chuckling up a storm, but it's not the same as a show with a long-term storyline. Any suggestions? It may be time to dive into Gilmore Girls. I feel, as a child of the early 90s, it's almost a requirement. However, I'm not completely sold on it as of yet.

What do you like to watch as you sew?

cozy plaid quilt with classy dark grey binding | Lovely and Enough

sneak peak of the quilt I'm working on that has yet to be revealed

Plus for a Finish

Finished Modern Plus Quilt
Mission three into the James Hunt Library was a success. Laden down with newly finished quilt and iron, I confidently climbed to the fifth floor. Brent was such a gentleman to let me disrupt our weekend for a library photo shoot. He even engineered an invisible tape method to hang the heavy quilt. What a guy.

We snapped over seventy photos that gorgeous Sunday morning, and I had to FaceTime my mom just now to decide between them all. Here are our four favorites. The quilt was designed for my living room wall and hangs comfortably above the couch. It fills the room with a balance of softness and presence, and if it wasn't for the complete lack of natural light in here, I would show you just how classy and homey it feels.

The quilt is also brimming with imperfections. Wobbly seams, batting peeking out at the edges, binding stitches that went through, and plusses that don't align. That's what shows it's handmade. Some of my favorite vintage quilts have worn-through holes and faded patches, missed corners and uneven quilting. The imperfections bring it above factory-grade quilts; they make it perfect. I've been thinking of starting a linkup for Perfect Imperfections, the happy accidents, the frustrating mistakes. What do you think? Would enjoy linking up to that?

finished quilt on table

modern plus quilt with citron pop

modern plus quilt with citron pop, lovely and enough

modern plus quilt with fun citron pop in binding, lovely and enough

Mission one and the early stages of this quilt can be found here, pre-binding. And I'm so excited to link up to Finish-it-up-Friday over at CrazyMomQuilts and Show Off Saturday at SewCanShe. (Links forthcoming when those days arrive.)

Summer Experimenting

Summer experimenting used to mean trying out new mudpie recipes, but this summer it's printing on pieced tops and matchstick quilting. One of my last weeks in the art building at school, I printed several layers on top of each other on a simple quilt top. Although it's a bit muddy, it is also a wonderful canvas for exploring new quilting ideas. Some free-motion quilting carved out the blooms, tracing certain layers, and now matchstick quilting invades from the borders. It's a soothing afternoon task, but it takes so long! I've only finished about an eighth of the quilt, and I can't even imagine how long it will take me to do the rest...

Any great book suggestions to listen to on CD as I go?






Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at the lovely Freshly Pieced.

Barefoot Thank you

Sometimes I find it important to think back on the week and realize how truly lovely it was.

In the warm winds and blossoming sun of summer, I received my very own squeegee in the mail. The postman simply rang the bell and left the package by the door, but upon hearing it, I flew threw the house, threw open the door, saw it, and ran partway down the driveway to shout a barefoot "thank you" after him. What a wonderful Tuesday treat.

Wednesday I was blessed with a final surge of motivation to finish my business plan after many weeks reading books, mapping ideas, and dreaming. I am excited to announce that the quilt and fabric shop should open near the beginning of August. So exciting!

Thursday, prompted by my list of to-dos, I pieced and printed several quilt tops. (It's amazing how much more I accomplish when I write myself lists.) This one is a peppy poppy version of my previous cut-glass quilt, Little Pieces. Although it's missing some mid-tones, my favorite local fabric shop Pink Castle was more than willing to help me flesh out that area of my new palette. Such a friendly place.

And lastly, sewing machine hunting! I had the crazy experience of stumbling upon a Bernina 830 at a local resale shop last Christmas. I brought it home for $15 in it's pretty red case full of accessories. Unfortunately, it had been dropped on its head at some point and wasn't fit for fixing or function, said the sewing machine repair man. Since then, I've been keeping a keen eye out for another one, and I may have found it last night. Cross your fingers this little Bernina dream comes true!

What was lovely for you this past week?





Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

Labor of Love

Farmer's Wife Quilt today! When Camille Roskelley made hers a couple years ago, I fell in love with it, and I'm totally and completely hooked. I've been working on the quilt little by little for almost two years, and sometimes I like to just pull out all of the squares, spread them around me, and dream about the finished quilt.

Camille gave the advice of tackling six squares at a time for efficiency, so that's what I did today. I settled in and listened to the end of a sappy novel by Nora Roberts and stitched through the rainy day. Avery and Owen fell in love with each other, and I fell in love again with this quilt process. Slow methodical progress. Do you know what I mean? Is anyone else out there working on a Farmer's Wife Quilt? It really is a labor of love.

Today's Blocks:
Birds in Air
Butterfly at the Crossroads
Contrary Wife
Flock
Hovering Hawks
Swallow


7. Birds in the Air

21. Contrary Wife

34. Flock

14. Butterfly at the Crossroads

52. Hovering Hawks

93. Swallow


And I am so thankful that I get to share this little work-in-progress (WIP) with the talented sewers over at Freshly Pieced because it's WIP Wednesday!

Variations on Variations on a Bouquet of Tulips

Neck deep in grow-your-handmade-business books with numbers and notebooks and workbooks spread across the work table in front of me, I decided to adjourn for some sewing. With two quilts left to send out from the ones I sold at my show, I whipped up Buckwheat 2.0 also known as Variations on Variations on a Bouquet of Tulips. It's slated to be sent out to my dear friend Susie in PA tomorrow morning, and it is nearly identical to its brother Variations on a Bouquet of Tulips. Based off of the Farmer's Wife Quilt block Buckwheat, I modified my original color choices with some light grey Michael Miller solids on the top and bottom. I like it. And I spent the afternoon catching up on the last episodes of Elementary while quilting and binding it. Lovely.






Linoleum

Summer is officially here. I slept in until 9:30 this morning and woke up to seventy degrees and sun. After a lazy sit with my sister on the couch, I pulled my laptop towards me to respond to some comments and then moseyed on over to the studio to do some fun sewing. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

Back from sewing and only managed one Farmer's Wife quilt block today. I attempted to plan and cut easier shapes for the blocks instead of all the fussy pattern pieces but managed to miss some seam allowance here and there. I caught it early on the first one but not right till the end on the second. Ah well, practice will make perfect, and I will get better and faster at making the blocks from scratch.

This week's blocks
Linoleum






This work in progress will eventually get done someday... Check out other people's WIP over at Freshly Pieced.

Morning

Mornings are just the best, aren't they? Fresh sun. Fresh eyes. Fresh day. Endless possibilities ahead of you and new energy to tackle them all. Yesterday morning was like that. I sat down to decide what I wanted to do with the morning, and I came to the wonderful conclusion: Farmer's Wife Quilt. It has lain dormant for many months, but the day has arrived for me to work on it a little more. I promptly taped almost all of my completed blocks to the wall and set about picking new ones. I've been feeling quite inspired by Chelsea's farmer's wife blocks over at Patch the Giraffe, so in honor of her I cut fabric for two squares she just made and finished a block that had been half-way pieced for some time now. So exciting, and I'm looking forward to more time for it tomorrow morning!


57. Morning




You can see more of my Farmer's Wife blocks here. And since I have 85 blocks to go, I get to share it with my lovely friends at WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

Remnants of Summer

With little pieces of hydrangea fabric from the summer as well as an overprint of hydrangea design, this block brings me back to walking the hot streets of Florence with my sister at my side. Freckles and sandals and sketchbooks in backpacks. However, rather than settling into nostalgia, I like to remember the many things that have grown from that month: a deeper relationship with my sister, a year of studying fabric design, a beautiful quilt from the fabrics we purchased at the markets, this show. Dwelling on the past is not productive. Appreciating, instead, the unfolding of moments into long-lasting treasures keeps us thankful and grounded in the present and future.



Making it was a whirlwind of late nights and frantic stitching. The deadline for the juried exhibition was Friday before noon, and I began it Tuesday morning. Between every class and commitment, I would dash off to sew or print, pick up velcro or make frames. The final stitches zig-zagged around the edge of the ninth block at 3:30 in the morning Thursday night, and I fell contentedly into bed for several hours before bringing it to the gallery for the jury.



I think it's the layers in this one that make it my favorite, as well as the movement between the navy and coral pieces. After piecing each of the nine blocks, I laid them down on my printing board and over-printed two layers of the hydrangea design in a transparent white. At first, it felt like the white toned down the outside colors too much, but after adding a zing of color with coral straight-line quilting, the piece really came together. The free-motion quilted swath of the hydrangeas that overlaps from the grey blocks to the colorful ones is probably my favorite aspect of the design, and I look forward to figuring out how to make this design into a full-size bed quilt.

She Can Laugh At the Days to Come

Transience and permanence. This collection anchors itself in the juxtaposition of beginnings and endings, expressing confidence in the face of uncertainty and joyful contentment in the present. As my sister began her college career and I finished mine, we seized the opportunity to spend a summer together studying textile design and photography in Florence. While there, I crafted a small line of fabrics inspired by her graduation party—hydrangeas, bunting, and striped paper straws. As I reminisced on our time together and began to sew summer fabrics into autumn projects, this show was born. It contrasts the deep constancy of family against the transience of growing up through a medium that has long accompanied those disparate pieces of life: quilts. From births to weddings to graduations, quilts commemorate transitions in life. Drawing on the tradition of the simple one-block quilts of the Amish, I utilized large flat planes and solids, bringing it to the modern quilting scene with fresh colors and straight-line stitching. Each quilt contains a printed snapshot of our summer together—laughing and exploring—as well as a look into the past and future through the meanings of the traditional quilt blocks.

The show title is taken from Proverbs 31, which describes a woman who is successful in her business endeavors as well as at home but grounds her strength and carefree nature in Christ. She can laugh, enjoying the present without fear of the future, just as I hope we can embrace the now and hold what might come with excited and open palms. I invite you to enter into these moments, feeling the tactile changes in direction our lives take as well as the unity of family and faith that undergirds each quilt and story.














Remnants of Summer

With little pieces of hydrangea fabric from the summer as well as an overprint of hydrangea design, this block brings me back to walking the hot streets of Florence with my sister at my side. Freckles and sandals and sketchbooks in backpacks. However, rather than settling into nostalgia, I like to remember the many things that have grown from that month: a deeper relationship with my sister, a year of studying fabric design, a beautiful quilt from the fabrics we purchased at the markets, this show. Dwelling on the past is not productive. Appreciating, instead, the unfolding of moments into long-lasting treasures keeps us thankful and grounded in the present and future.

Variations on a Bouquet of Tulips

Life doesn’t always happen as you expect, but often then it is better. My sophomore year, I was surprised with a bouquet of tulips after one of my dance performances from a friend who then asked me to dinner. I was flattered and excited, but the relationship didn’t take off and ended up rather awkward. This year, though, I was surprised again with a beautiful bouquet from two of my chemistry major friends. We all chatted and laughed and had breakfast together the next Friday as we had all semester. Great friends, good conversation, and lots of fun. Sometimes the best moments are subtle variations on what you would’ve picked for yourself.

Lovely & Enough

The title of my blog and this quilt encompasses a lifestyle to which I aspire. My life is so full of blessings: a loving family, a great group of friends, a burgeoning church, and my knitting and quilting. I want to live happily and contentedly in this and remember that my life is lovely and enough. Quilting through physical chemistry tests, documentary photography classes, friend drama, and stressful dance performances, I choose to work with my hands and lead a life that reflects the great wonder of life rather than the minutiae. This lone star block, with its classic pattern and single star represent the beauty in simplicity and the joy that can bring.





New Growth

Sold






Coming & Going

Windmill Wings

I've grown up hearing the phrase, "If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much." This, of course, isn't true, but I feel very connected to my Dutch roots and home church. Originally titled End of Day as a block in the Farmer's Wife Quilt, I am renaming this block Windmill Wings as an homage to my heritage and the Benjamin Moore color I painted my room as a little girl. It speaks of a solid foundation in my life—my Dutch church family and home—from which I can now springboard into a wider body of fellow scientists, artists, and Christians. The end of each day and phase of life is then not a conclusion but the groundwork for winging into the next adventures of life.


Little Pieces

This is our purpose: to love one another as He loved us. Being afraid of the unexpected turns life throws crushes faith and spontaneity. Rather than worrying, we can instead focus on the beauty of each moment so that any little pieces we leave in our past among close or lost friends, realized or broken dreams are beautiful and untainted with regret.

Sold



Ties

Initially titled Ribbons in the Farmer’s Wife Quilt, I shifted the title to Ties to reflect family relationships. Our ties to family can at times feel like shackles and other times like an anchor amidst the storms of life. No matter the effort taken to cut them or the misguided attempts to bolster, these ties remain invisible and unbreakable.





Evening Star

Sold





Fresh Starts

This is it. The show I've dreamed about since deciding to be an artist as well as a chemist. It brings such a lightness to my life to have both sides. Never during the senior show process did I wish I had just stuck to chemistry. (Well, perhaps once, but it was probably 3:30 in the morning or 3:30 the next afternoon as I feel asleep in my third class that day, or more likely 3:30 the following morning when my walking foot broke.) Finishing the show at last is an enormous sense of accomplishment, and it brings me such joy to sit in the gallery in the peace and quiet. Even better is having people come to me after visiting the gallery with stories of how it touched them. College is full of transitions in locale and in family, and I am so thankful to God for the ways He can speak to each individual person's situation through the things He put on my heart for the show.

A special thank you to Mary and Andie, my Mom, my Dad, my sister Taylor, my Grandma and Grandpa Bolt, my Aunt Lisa, and everyone else who was able to make it out for the reception on Friday. Celebrating with you was a wonderful culmination of my time at Wheaton. And to all who were unable to make it due to distance and previous commitments, extensive documenting of the show can be found over on Flickr.

PS Somehow I missed taking pictures of my favorite quilt, Remnants of Summer, and since it was the one finished at three in the morning the day it was due, it has never been posted on the blog either. I will make sure pictures are posted this week, so stop back by to see them.

You're Invited

With just a couple days until showtime, I am sending out invitations to my show and reception. It's fun to pop them into the mail and exceptionally exciting to get picture texts and snapchats upon their arrival. And just so you all know: you're invited too!



Binding and Soaking in the Sun

The crazy pressure and pace of last week has lightened to a calm, relaxing drift. Spending the week in Georgia with my girlfriends, I’ve been soaking in the gorgeous sun and seventy degree weather. Taking time to slow down and step back from non-stop productivity has been a much needed break. I cannot believe it’s only Monday night, and I can sit in quiet contentment knowing how rested and invigorated I will feel when school rolls around next Monday.

This week for the show, all I have to do is bind up the quilts, pick the color of my business cards, and finalize my artist statement. The car has been perfect for binding, chatting and stitching away, and I’ve become a must faster binder over the past couple days. Each quilt feels like such an accomplishment, and the show is becoming something real and tangible. My mom printed these lovely little labels for me to stitch onto the backs of my quilts this year. She accidentally printed thirty, so I have a lot of projects to start and finish before December, but luckily, with twelve under my belt, I'm a good way along, and the whole summer is spread ahead of me.






Needless to say, my FinishIt2014 list is going to be rapidly growing in the next couple weeks following my show, and my works-in-progress will be multiplying. Fortunately, I have such a wonderful support group for just such a condition over at Freshly Pieced with Work in Progress Wednesdays. How many more finished do you anticipate (or dream about) this year?

Within Reach

Life has been been crazy, sewing at all hours of the day and dancing the evenings away with dress rehearsals and performances and cast parties. Just two days until Spring Break when I need to be done with all but the hand-stitching part of binding. In the past week, I've finished quilting six more quilts [lone star, buckwheat, cut-glass, evening star, hovering hawks, and windmill wings] and pieced a new one. Guilty confession: The new block is a third version of the cut-glass block; I just can't seem to stop making them, and I think it will be my first project to make a bed-size quilt as soon as the show is finished. So pumped and a little obsessed. Chai tea and muffins stolen from my cafeteria have kept me going. And my mom. Mostly my mom has kept me going. Always ready to soothe my anxious worries when the to-do list seems longer than the hours in the day.

I'm pretty excited to see the show finished and hung and be able to share it with everyone. I hope you guys are too.






It's the home stretch, and the end is within reach! However, since I'm not to the final stitches of any individual quilt or the show in its entirety, I get share it with my comrades at FreshlyPieced for WIP Wednesday. Gotta love solidarity.

A Coral and Navy Whirlwind

These past two weeks have been an overwhelming whirlwind of dance rehearsals, deadlines, late nights, and a strong desire to curl up under a quilt and forget about my senior show. With only two weeks left before Spring Break and putting up my show, it's crunch time. I've been a mad fiend, sketching quilting patterns during class and binding quilts through chapel, sewing until the wee hours of the morning and then getting up the next day to begin it again.


Two quilts are completely finished. Unfortunately I don't have pictures for you because I submitted them for the juried exhibition that is currently hung in Adam's Hall, and they were both accepted. Yay! I've been quilting three others, alternating them as I finish a section of stitching and lose direction for the next color of thread. Ribbons is completely quilted, thank you to my mother who ordered me a new walking foot when mine kicked the bucket last week. There was a big crash, and little pieces actually crumbled out of the foot and onto my quilt the night before my quilts were due for the exhibition. Talk about bad timing.




Good timing, on the other hand, was being able to play around in my future gallery space the next day to see which quilts will likely go on the wall and where. It was a fun afternoon, eating chocolate cake for my half birthday and watching everyone else's submissions for the exhibition roll in. Now I only have a couple decisions left to make about hanging the show.


Together with lots of long-distance support from Ann Arbor, pep talks from the studio associate, endless cups of Hot Cinnamon Spice tea, and a good old quilting favorite The Wedding Date (which I may have watched four times last week), I survived the past eight days. Only twelve more to go before I'm off to Georgia and then back to hang the show!

Dark Star

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Since beginning this practice at the end of my sophomore year of college, I've found it to be so necessary and rejuvenating. For six days, I work, and on the seventh I rest [or in my case, sew]. One interesting side effect, however, of working on my quilt-based senior show is that, although I still sew on Sundays, it's not the same kind of rest.


In light of that, I took the whole weekend off of sewing and drove up to northern Wisconsin with some of my friends to chill at HoneyRock Camp. With just a small amount of elbow grease washing dishes after meals, we had full run of the camp. Now, after an hour and a half of tubing, over six miles of cross-country skiing, and a late night snow shoe across the lake, I feel ready to tackle the week. Exhausted, limber, and invigorated, I can look back at last week's sewing and look forward at the coming week's 'without fear of the days to come' (Proverbs 31:25).



This past Thursday I cut, pieced, and pressed an entire Dark Star block. It was patterned after Maura Ambrose's Dark Star quilt. I have long been inspired by her and even forayed into natural fabric dyes for several months while exploring where my senior show might go. This hand-dyed quilt that I pieced last winter was also inspired by her. I didn't intend for the dark star colors to be quite so similar, but I guess that's what happens when I'm working in coral and navy and the original was black and red. By the suggestion of my senior show advisor, I added a little pop of mint. It's tough to see here, but one of the white arrows is actually a lovely seafoam. It adds some fun to the traditional and somber quilt, and I'm excited to see the mint pop up elsewhere in the show.


Linking up to Work-In-Progress Wednesday again over at FreshlyPieced. Head over for some other inspiring projects in the works.

Fits and Starts

Sometimes you feel really inspired and productive. Sometimes you don't. Thursday was a productive day. I cut and pieced three large two-tone blocks to print. Three! Yesterday was one of the other kind of days. Three and a half hours of staring at the blocks with no idea how to print them. I'm feeling a little discouraged, with an odd mix of all the time in the world and not enough time at all.

Nevertheless, negativity gets you no where, so I'm determined to be thankful for where I am. I have ten potential senior show blocks. I have a color scheme that I love. I have a Mom who is really good at gauging and color matching solids from online fabric stores. I have a great space to work in and a roommate who doesn't mind quilt squares taped to every free square inch of the room. I have a helpful and inspirational show advisor and encouraging friends. And the Friday after next I get to sneak in and tape up blocks in the gallery space. This week is another week. This afternoon another potential for great fun and productivity. Creative work can go in fits and starts but I don't have to dwell on the fits. Now let's get started!




Mini Printing Update

Today was great. The weekend was great. Thursday and Friday were great. God has just been placing little blessings all over the place, and I couldn't be more happy to be anywhere but exactly where I am. This afternoon my advisor and a talented graduated graphic design student brainstormed with me about my show. New colors, different directions, thread ideas, show-hanging schemes. It was wonderful. Such positive creative energy has left me bursting to work on my show day and night. Sewing machine, here I come!



And in the spirit of community, I'm linking up to my first Work-in-Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!

Icy Printed Hydrangeas



It's been a cold week here in Chicago, but I am pleased to say that a little sleuthing, a very helpful mother on the phone, and a kindly man from the physical plant put our furnace in order. Now we are toasty! With the long weekend, I pieced two simple blocks in solid grey and white to experiment over-printing. After a blustery morning inside, curled up reading about Manet and Goya, I hit the studio. Several hours later, here we have it. The first printed quilt block.


Although the color is off (not the navy I was hoping for), I love the effect. With some tasteful stitching, I think I can push the geometric-organic juxtaposition a little bit further for a nice finished product. Even if it can't go in the show (because it's the wrong color), it will definitely find a home. I've already had two people claim it for their office and bedroom walls!



Dutch Heritage

I've grown up hearing the phrase, "If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much." This, of course, isn't true, but I still feel very connected to my Dutch roots. Originally titled "End of Day" in the Farmer's Wife Quilt book, I am renaming this block Windmill Wings as an homage to my heritage and the Benjamin Moore color I painted my room as a child. Being part of my senior show exploring graduation, a celebration of beginnings and good byes, it speaks of a solid foundation in my life from which I can now springboard into a wider body of fellow scientists, artists, and Christians. Goodbyes are always bittersweet but also full of promise, and I look forward to and dread what May will bring.




Remaining grounded in the present, though, I am loving the gentle snow drifting down outside and being home to my favorite afghan and duvet. Hopefully this week I can experiment with printing on some simple quilt blocks as I while away the extra hours in between dance rehearsals and studio classes.

Double Feature

Yesterday was a double feature day. Two movies. Two quilt blocks. Josh Duhamel and his precious children swept in to steal my and Julianne Hough's heart in Safe Haven, while I rotary cut the morning away. Then a matured Zac Efron gave a touching performance in The Lucky One, reminding me of my love for piano music and old homes, as I pieced late into the afternoon. I'm really hitting my groove with the navy and coral, and I decided to redo some of my favorite simple Farmer's Wife Quilt blocks in the new colors. Best choice. I love them. Ribbons is one of my new favorites of all of the senior show blocks. (My favorite is still the cut-glass block.)

School starts today, so it will be interesting to see where I can squeeze in my quilting and begin over-printing the blocks. However, I'm really enthusiastic about the next three Farmer's Wife Quilt blocks that I have picked to remake in coral and navy, and I can't wait! Maybe tomorrow morning...






If you haven't seen the other senior show blocks, you can check them out here (Corn and Beans), here (Flying Geese and Cut-Glass), here (Locked Star), and here (Lone Star).