Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Invitation to Improvise
I was fortunate enough to meet the lovely Alissa Haight Carlton at Quilt Market only weeks ago, and the feeling you get from her is just the feeling that I get from her new book, Block Party, which was written together with Kristen Lejnieks. And that feeling is one of approachability and warmth. After talking to her for a only a bit, I wanted to sit next to her and sew. The book, after reading a few pages, makes you feel just the same way. You just feel invited. Not in the fancy invitation that comes in the mail and requires a new dress kind of invitation, but a hey, come over here and join us kind of invitation. The best kind.
The book covers 12 women who formed a modern quilting bee so that each would contribute a block to one person's quilt concept each month. All the blocks would be sent to that one person, and she would get to assemble the quilt and keep it. By the end of the year all twelve of them had done the same, each keeping a piece of history and the work of 12 minds, 24 hands. I love thinking of how every block in every quilt was created during a completely separate set of circumstances within each quilter's life. And that they each, doubtlessly, struggled more with one block than another, experienced successes and emotions that they wouldn't have otherwise had. Some days I imagine that making the block was the most peaceful part of their day- I'm sure other days, they forgot to get to it all together, and stressed a bit to finish it. Each one different. Each one a record of time. Each one perfecting a skill they already possessed or pushing them into a new one. And all together the quilt then, an expression of many. I do believe that is the heart and soul of quilting.
I took note of my dear friend Denyse's introduction to the book, most specifically where she writes that "the best way to learn something (to understand it viscerally and not just intellectually) is to make it happen with your own hands." That, in addition to all the wonderful inspiration, and perfectly clear instructions is what had me chopping up my Liberty stack faster than you can say bee (which doesn't take long at all). I was so inspired by the Confetti quilt because it felt most different from what I typically do. More improvisational. I see a lot of quilts. Lots and lots. And the moment I see them I either get it and move on, or I get it and I want to try it. Or better still, I get it, want to try, and even meditate for a while on how I might interpret it to see it anew. So here I am, improvising within the boundaries of this lovely Confetti block. Instead of using all white for the solid background, I decided to show off all the irregular strip widths by using 3 solids from my voiles (sixpence, midnight, river rock). And because I can't leave well enough alone, in addition to the 3 background solids, I decided to interject one of my own prints. The good for me thing, in addition to it being a scrap + solid style block, is that its perfect for special fabrics that you'd like to use a bit sparingly.
So after only messing around for about an hour or so this morning, I am finding myself entirely charmed with this process, remembering how much I love to wing it, and loving how this one little block is a microcosm of the quilt it will become. And even each component of the block, its own abstract composition- beautiful and unique. I've decided that I need a little tiny bit of this freedom on a regular basis, so I think I'll do one every Saturday morning. We'll see how that goes. I'm glad to have the company of these talented women every time I open this book.
Would you like to open this book? I get to give one away! Leave me any ole comment and we'll get a name chosen at random on Monday of next week. For more wonderful write-ups about this book, follow along on the blog tour:
6/21/2011 A Quilt Is Nice
6/22/2011 I Heart Linen
6/23/2011 Tallgrass Prairie Studio
6/24/2011 Oh, Fransson!
6/25/2011 All Buttoned Up
6/26/2011 West Coast Crafty
6/27/2011 Connecting Threads
6/28/2011 Crafty Girls Workshop
6/29/2011 Whip Up
6/30/2011 Pink Chalk Studio
7/1/2011 True Up
7/5/2011 Block Party Bee Blog
7/6/2011 Anna Maria Horner
happy quilting, xo, Anna