What a Week!

by Christine Barnes

Retreat 2017 is now history, and what a great week it was. Let me begin with my intrepid, up-for-anything students—you were wonderful, one of the best classes I’ve ever had, and your blocks and projects prove it. You were fun and brave and always cheerful. Allow me to show off your work!

We began with four mock-block exercises that illustrate the adage that “Value does all of the work, and color gets all of the credit.” Contrasts in value create two important effects in quilt design: 1) they add a sense of depth (dark shapes seem closer, lighter shapes farther away) and 2) they establish the design (a dark star shows up on a light background).

When the values (lights, mediums, and darks) are somewhat similar, differences in pattern and color can differentiate the shapes, as in these Boy’s Nonsense mock-blocks. Paula combined two very different patterns to establish the design.Barb’s modern background fabric makes her block light and lively.Marti’s intense center square contrasts with the somewhat duller ombré rectangles.The Granny Square block is a great format for playing with light, medium, and dark values. In Lisa’s block, there’s even “accidental transparency.”The way in which Patti used the linear prints is smashing. (I want this block. 🙂Gale had an assist from her sister Mukhya in pasting up her Best Friends block. A bright print for the outer triangles makes the design even bolder. See how well the dark skinny triangles stand out against the red-orange half-square triangles.A busy Alice in Wonderland print separates nicely from the background and the dark skinny triangles in Susan’s block.An op-art, black-and-white print gives Gail’s block movement.I’m loving the vintage/modern vibe here, with contemporary fabrics and a Featherweight machine. Yes!Color therapy!Gail auditions fabrics for Laurie’s Spumoni blocks.That’s Susan behind her Urban Sunsets quilt top. It’s difficult to see in this shot, but the black-and-white swizzle sticks have an undulating design (check out the upper right block).Jane’s Urban Sunsets units are wonderfully different in value, color, and pattern.Variations in value, color, and pattern make for an elegant, minimal design. Lisa’s block, I believe.Cindy working on her Urban Sunsets blocks.Another one of Cindy’s blocks in progress. She’s bordering her center units with a green Gelato ombré instead of the gray. (I can’t wait to show you the finished quilt!)Gail went to town with Kaffe fabrics for Spumoni. See how the different values affect the look of each block.Isn’t our class wall colorful??? There was even more to see, on moveable design boards.These Farmer’s Wife blocks, done the morning of the last full day, really show the growth in everyone’s work. Well done, ladies!

Green Grunge triangles flank the nine-patch unit in Ellen’s block. Dark-value corner squares advance and give the design a strong sense of dimension.Though there is some blending in the nine-patch unit, I’m loving the colors and prints in Gale’s version.

Lisa’s clicked when she positioned the leafy squares in the nine-patch unit so the values contrast with the greeny-brown triangles.The color in Laurie’s block is a bit off in this photo, but wow, it sure works! The nine-patch unit advances because the values are darker than the gold triangles.OK, not our best look, but hey, it’s the last morning and we were weary. We had 12 students in all (Gale, Patti, Susan, Ellen, and Jane are missing from this pic). This photo, taken by our phenomenal assistant Kathy, says it all. There is no other place on the planet like Lake Tahoe.But wait, there’s more! Gail and Laurie, my students from the Dakotas, rode around the lake, all 72 miles of it, in the “Tour de Tahoe” on Sunday. Congrats, ladies, on ending your week with a bang. I told my young hair stylist about your ambitious ride, and she paused and said, “Well, that sure changes my idea of what quilters are like.” Too funny!With that I’ll sign off. Thank you for looking at my students’ amazing work. And thanks to my students for making my week so memorable. As I’ve said many, many times, “You make this job so rewarding and so much fun!”

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A Day at the Fair

by Christine Barnes

I’m a small-town girl from Loomis, CA, who grew up in the 1950s in an idyllic setting that included a barn, a pond, an orchard, a garden, a few cattle, and one very naughty pony. My father was a high school history and anthropology teacher who also saw himself as a gentleman farmer, and in the summer I would complain at dinner, “Not potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, and corn from the garden again.” Then there would be our own peaches on vanilla ice cream. If only I had realized how lucky I was. I do now.

So when I migrated from the Bay Area to Grass Valley in 1983, I felt right at home. I even have roots here—my great-grandfather worked in the Empire Mine before the turn of the century, when Grass Valley was a prominent mining town in the California Gold Country.

Things have changed, to put it mildly, and it feels as though this charming town has grown exponentially. The Nevada County fair has changed too, becoming more crowded as the years go by, though it retains its small-town flavor with events like a pygmy goat obstacle course (darn, I missed that one), gold panning, a ukulele orchestra, and, of course, adorable bunnies, squeaky-clean pigs, and majestic horses. It’s often hot and usually dusty, but the fair is a much-loved part of our county’s culture. At night, from the air, it’s magical.There are plenty of other events, too. The Draft Horse Classic happens every September and is considered the premier show of its kind in the western U.S. I love these “gentle giants,” probably because my other great-grandfather used a draft horse in his apple orchard in central Washington.I worked the fair yesterday in the Methodist Church bratwurst booth (if you like brat with kraut, it’s the best), then made my way to the quilts and other needlework. I thought you’d enjoy seeing some of my favorites.

I’m stuck in the advanced-beginner category of knitters, and I’m in awe of what’s possible with yarn, knowing that I’ll never be able to knit this well. I watched Lindsey Cleveland start this project at a knitting retreat last winter. The dark values and intense colors make for a stunning chevron shawl.I love crescent shawls for their graceful shapes, and this one is exquisite!Another beauty, with lovely lacework.My friend Jo Ward’s quilt-like shawl made in mohair. Kaffe would love seeing this, . . . and I would love wearing it.On to the quilts. Trish Morris-Plise will be at the retreat this year. (And haven’t you come every year, Trish?) Her work is amazing and eclectic, from art quilts to this Hawaiian-style appliqué wall hanging.What wonderful hand quilting!In Lorna Straka’s blue-ribbon bargello quilt (machine quilted by Susie Hardy) the center of the quilt advances because the batiks are more intense than the Kaffe Fassett border. Great fabric choices, Lorna!I never get tired of batiks. Their variations and nuanced colors make them special.This charming quilt by Janet Hannameyer is the kind of quilt I love to see at the fair every year.Another teapot quilt, by Deirdre Campbell, only it’s made of paper. Yes, paper! There’s batting in between, although she said her paper quilt last year had paper for batting, too. “A quilt has three layers. . . .” Notice the ruler that serves as the hanging rod. What fun. Lynda Lasich’s poppy quilt is a gem. You had to be there to appreciate the intricate shapes and thread painting.

A delightful use of light, medium, and dark values in this tumbling blocks quilt. My sincere apologies to the maker of this quilt—I forgot to make a note of your name.The fair runs through Sunday, so if you live within driving distance, you might like to come. If not this year, there will certainly be another fair next year, at the fairgrounds voted “the prettiest in all of California”

p.s. You saw it in various stages, but here’s the finished top for one of the retreat projects, “Best Friends.” I hope you agree that I deserve extra credit for using three different dots and one very low-volume stripe. See you soon . . . .

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Summer Play

by Christine Barnes

Gardeners pore over seed catalogs, and fashionistas wait eagerly for the Fall fashion issue of Vogue. Me? I pull out my big book of 501 block patterns because, as you may have noticed, I adore traditional blocks made in today’s fabrics. I also look for opportunities to simplify a block to make it more modern. That’s my idea of a relaxing afternoon—looking at block designs and playing with fabric.

When my good buddy Heidi (I believe you know her) gave me a half-yard of this fabulous Anna Maria Horner print called “Fibs and Fables,” I thought it would be fun to do a three-block series, with each block having a different-size center square. 

I chose “The Crayon Box” for my first mock-block.

My supporting fabrics—a red-violet Marcia Derse, a yellow-green Grunge, and a slate-blue/gray by Parson Gray. I tossed in a low-volume background fabric, “Rush Hour” by studio e fabrics. (it’s a bit difficult to see, but it’s under the yellow-green square.) I challenged myself to use the same supporting fabrics in each block.

 

With a center that’s only 3 x 3 inches (the block finishes to 9 x 9), you don’t see much of the AMH fabric. The supporting fabrics seemed to overwhelm the print and confine it.

I started to deconstruct the mock-block (one of the benefits of gluing over sewing!) and really liked the simplicity—an example of “less is more,” I thought. How about using fewer pieces of the magenta and yellow-green, with a low-volume background fabric to open up the design? The simplified version is airier, with the possibility of rotating blocks to create an original quilt plan. 

Returning to my original idea of varying the proportions of the fabrics, I brought out one of my favorite blocks, “Cypress.” This block is also 9 x 9, but the center is 4½ inches, or half the width of the block and 50 percent larger than the center of The Crayon Box. I love seeing more of the AMH print. You also see more of the magenta print, but less of the yellow-green and slate-blue/gray. The Rush Hour background keeps everything light and airy.

Next up, the block “Counterpane.” This version is 10 x 10 inches, with a 6-inch center that reveals even more of the print. Blocks like Counterpane are perfect for showcasing gorgeous, splashy prints, while the small triangles make effective accents.

 

So now you know what I do on hot summer afternoons—I “play with my blocks.” And, no surprise, some of them actually turn into quilts, like the two new projects for my Zephyr workshop.

Hoping you are staying cool. And for those of you coming to my Zephyr workshop, I hope you’re having fun poring over your stash and deciding which fabrics you want to play with!

p.s. To my students, I’ll be in touch!

A Detour, Short and Sweet

by Christine Barnes

I’m home from my teaching travels, and after so many weeks on the road, my own bed never felt so good. (Naples was wonderful—thank you Judy and Linda! I’ll write about it in my next post.) I’ve been working away on the project quilts for the retreat. One of them is based a block that is so versatile that I just had to try it with transparency.

The block is known as “Antique Modern,” which seems a bit of an oxymoron. And here’s my quilt top, which I’ve named “Aerial,” after the name of the sashing fabric. If you don’t follow my newsletter, you can click here to see the April issue and read the story behind choosing the fabrics.Every time I looked at the block, I thought, “I wonder if . . . .” So yesterday I took a quick detour from my “Crazy Anne” quilt for the retreat to play with the design.

I fell in love with this mini harlequin print when I was at Rosie’s in San Diego in April. The three pink solids you see are from the width of one ombré, which I folded to show the color and value range. I know, I’m a broken record, but ombrés have SO much potential.The result isn’t quite as transparent as I had hoped. Some ombrés aren’t that successful because they tend to be too opaque. Never mind—the center fabric carries the day for me, and the black-and-white “stripe” makes it even more modern.Then I asked myself, “What would happen if I eliminate the center square?” Instead of rectangles surrounding a center square, you see a large, open area with a whole new set of possibilities.For this version I needed three fabrics—a light parent, a dark parent, and a child. The lightest fabric is actually the lighter area of a yellow-green/olive ombré. The dark green is the wrong side of a Grunge. (Hey, all’s fair in love and quilting.) The “child,” a Loni Rossi print, looks like a combination of the two parents, as if the light and dark colors were combined but not completely blended.I layered and glued the cut pieces to “fool the eye.” The real thing, when sewn, is much more convincing because it’s flatter. (This pic was taken in the evening, so the color is off.)

The finished mock-block.

That was fun, like reading a few chapters in a novel when you should be studying for finals. Next week it’s back to my retreat projects and full speed ahead on Zephyr. As always, thanks for looking and reading. I hope your summer is off to a great start—and that it includes a little color play with fabric you love!

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Destination: Transparency!

by Christine Barnes

The past month has been a whirlwind of travel, but gosh, it has been FUN. I’m calling it my California Coastal Color Tour because I taught a different workshop for guilds in San Diego, Arroyo Grande, and Santa Cruz. For this post I’d like to show you what twenty diligent (and cheerfully rowdy) Santa Cruz students did with my “Transparent Circles” pattern. The original quilt, made of shot cottons and Marcia Derse prints:I refer to this kind of transparency as “layered,” which is different from parent/child transparency. Here’s an overview of how I make the blocks, using the upper left block in the quilt as an example.

I piece four smaller squares of light fabrics and four larger squares of corresponding dark fabrics. Using the template below, I cut out a freezer-paper circle (double layer, for stability) and mark each quarter line with a small slit. I then trim the light unit of squares a scant ¼ inch beyond the freezer-paper circle and press the raw edge over and onto the shiny side of the paper. Finally, I appliqué the circle to the larger pieced unit, lining up the seams, and cut away and remove the paper from the back.You make “in and out” blocks, using the same eight fabrics. I love seeing how different the block looks with the light and dark fabrics reversed.

Circles in progress . . . .Brenda’s blocks, with help from Lori. Notice that the colors are in the same location in each block. So cool!What fun to see some of the different blocks. Happy students, successful circles. That’s my traveling buddy Kari toward the back.Meryl (my facilitator for the trip—thank you so much) with her first block. The dark green and orange Grunge fabrics give the block a lovely texture.

Could there be a cuter picture? Pat, my hostess (we loved staying with you!) and her blocks made of Gelato ombrés. She’s the first to try Gelatos for these blocks, and I think they are awesome.

The next day we had breakfast at the home of a local wearable artist. I way taken by the arrangement and color of these elements in her courtyard.Pat and Lori then took us to Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, a wonderful, must-visit shop on the corner of Grand and Central streets. Who can forget that location?We were in for one more treat the morning we left, Gayle’s bakery, a Santa Cruz landmark and a feast for the eyes and the palette. If you aren’t hungry when you go, you will be when you look at the array of pastries and goodies!Owner Gayle Ortiz did the picassiette (broken pottery mosaic) on some of the tables, as well as one wall.

I don’t know about you, but I see a fabric design in this . . . .We headed home, with new memories, friends, and fabrics. And as often happens after I teach a class, I want to make the quilt again, this time with Grunges and Peppered Cottons. Thanks so much for tuning in this week. For my next post I’ll have tales to tell from another coast—the coast of Florida!

 

 

 

 

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Going in Circles (It’s a Good Thing)

by Christine Barnes

Have you ever searched for something (typically without success) and in the process found things you’ve been looking for for ages??? That’s what happened to me earlier this week, when I unearthed a number of experiments and leftovers from different projects. Many were circles blocks, which makes sense because I’ve made seven—yes, seven—circles quilts. Sigh, I just can’t seem to resist!

I teach three circles workshops, the most popular one being shadowed circles on background triangles. In the examples below I used a Kaffe print on a background of Gelato ombré triangles. The triangles in each block were cut from different areas of the same ombré. That’s the magic of the Gelato ombrés, with their shifting colors and values.Different backgrounds really bring out the different colors in the circle.I first started pairing Kaffe prints and Gelato ombrés for “Sassy Circles II.” (It’s now a pattern; email me for info.)A few years ago I was appliqueing Kaffe circles onto Kaffe shot cottons (in the lower left) and Caryl Bryer Fallert ombrés (upper right). I loved, loved the ethereal quality of her ombrés. And after a trip to New York City, I just had to make a modern circle on a background of gray Painter’s Palette and white Grunge.By then it was clear to me that I had a bad case of “circle fever.” If you recall my “Pop Beads” quilt from our 2015 retreat, you’ll recognize this block made of Peppered Cotton solids and neutral prints. I made more colorful blocks for the quilt, but I sure had fun piecing the background for this block. Circles quilts have a lovely bonus—leftovers. The four triangles below were cut from scraps of the ombré border fabric I used in my Elegant Circles quilt. (Scroll through the Gallery to see the quilt.) Now I want to make yet another circles quilt using four triangles for each block background, and perhaps aboriginal prints for the circles.I’ve kept the bonus circles (the fabric cut away from the back of the quilt) for future projects. I think it’s time to put them to good use. I’d like to play with more pieced circles; these have been pressed over freezer-paper circles.I made my “Transparent Circles” quilt out of shot cottons and Marcia Derse prints. (I’ll be teaching this quilt in Santa Cruz next month.) Because the shot cottons are rather loosely woven, it’s easy to align the seams in the circles with the seams in the background.And finally, my students continue to amaze me with the circles they create. Here are two examples from my visit to the Friendship Quilters of San Diego. Many thanks, ladies!Big blooms really lend themselves to circles:Circles spill over into the rest of my life, too. Heidi gave me this gorgeous shawl several years ago, and every time I wear it I get compliments. (Merci, Heidi!) Let’s see . . . how can I make this into a quilt?I treated myself to this shawl from “The Great Put On” in Mendocino, CA, where you’ll find wonderful wearables.Hey, I challenge you to consider circles for a future quilt. They are highly addictive, and they work with so many different kinds of prints. Did I ever find what I was originally looking for? Nope, but I’ll search again and probably discover new old treasures. See you next month, when I’ll unveil my “Gypsy Wife” quilt.

p.s. My Zephyr workshop is full, but get in touch with me (cebarnes@sbcglobal.net)  if you’d like to be on the waiting list.

 

 

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Let’s Hear It for Low-Volume Fabrics!

Christine Barnes

It’s another cold, raw spring day in Grass Valley, perfect for staying in and sharing my thoughts with you. My wild cherry trees are in bloom, and today wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen snow falling on the white blossoms. I call them my popcorn trees.

In this post I’d like to focus again on low-volume fabrics—how to spot them and use them in your quilts. The term is from the modern-quilt movement, and it means “quiet” colors and prints, used mostly as backgrounds or negative space. They are generally light in value, which makes them recede. Some are colored, but my faves are fabrics that have widely spaced black or gray motifs on a white or cream background. A picture is worth lots of words, so here are some examples. When possible, I’m adding the selvage info for those who want to seek out these fabrics. I included my fabric bracelet from the deYoung Museum to give you a sense of scale.

This print is by the designer Bonnie Christine, for Art Gallery Fabrics. It’s from the Hello Bear Collection, and the name of the design is “Summit in Dawn.” I’ve seen it on the Hawthorne Threads site. It’s more of a “medium-volume” fabric because of the colors, but I had to show it because I love it!Next is an open-and-airy, large-scale print from Contempo Studio’s Daily Zen collection, Michele D’Amore designer, by Benartex, style 1738. The background is creamier, not really white.Another design by Daily Zen, Michele D’Amore, style 1735. Love the openness of it.Also from the Daily Zen collection by Michele D’Amore, but alas, the selvage is gone. If you find this fabric, please let me know—I’ll give you extra credit. Remember the bird Woodstock in the Peanuts cartoons? To me, this looks like one long rant by him! The partial selvage reads “For Your Nest,” by Moda, style 48203. I love this random pattern of pale gray lines by Marcus Fabrics. The selvage says Studio 37 Fabrics, Nancy Rink Designs, Getting to Know Hue, style 9720. It comes in the opposite colorway of white lines on a gray background, and it’s gorgeous.I have no info on this pale gray-and-white stripe, but I believe it’s from Riley Blake. (This photo looks yellowish—the lighting was stange the day I took it.)And here’s how I used that stripe in a Gypsy Wife block, as the lowest-volume fabric. This block/quilt is one of the projects for the retreat.Note that the other two fabrics in the block above are anything but low-volume. I chose them because they separated and “stood up to” the colorful triangles but didn’t take over. There’s no selvage info for this large white-on-gray dot, but the smaller dot is by Michael Miller, style CX-2490, Dumb Dot. Michael Miller fabrics is a great source for dotted fabrics.I hope I’ve “spoken up” for low-volume fabrics enough to entice you to add them to your stash. They’re hard to find, but so worth the hunt.

One more thought: My retreat workshop is now full, but feel free to contact me if you’d like to be on the waiting list. You never know . . . .

Also, I’ll be showing more low-volume prints and my Antique Modern quilt top in my next newsletter, “Christine’s Color Connection.” You can sign up on my Home page, or by texting COLOR4Q to 22828. See you when we “get together” again!

 

 

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