A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mountain Star's Annual Mystery Quilt Weekend

Every late winter, my quilt guild hosts its annual Mystery Quilt weekend. For the past three years, we have been able to take over the Helms St. Charles Inn in Goodyears Bar and work to our hearts' content without disturbing any other guests; in fact, innkeeper Tami Helm, became a member and a great quilter herself.

The majority of the participants follow the instructions from step to step, not knowing the outcome until they get close to full assembly of their quilts. Others bring different sewing projects, and we all get a chance to catch up with each other, eat a lot of special food (this is also a bunch of good cooks), and relax from our normally busy lives.

I didn't get there until dinner, as I had badly wanted to put together my post thanking my Better Pal, Beth (see below). I was starving and joined in immediately in the feasting, then tried to settle down to a project, working on ribbed fingerless mitts, which should appear here later this week. I had brought along a quilt project, though, and after chatting around a bit, got to it. I had won a raffle of quilt squares made by fellow members last month, thanks to my dear friend, Lynn, who had made an extra one and stuck my name into the raffle pot... so I started with laying out the fifteen squares to come up with the "perfect" arrangement to sew them together.


My first attempt at laying out the squares was to try to create a flow of the color spectrum, with the reds and oranges at the top left corner, and the violets at the bottom right. It became obvious that 15 squares just wasn't enough to create the right visual impact.

I called in Lynn and fellow knitter/quilter, Linda, for advice and assistance, and we began moving the squares around, sticking with the same 3 squares by 5 squares row configuration. We also all agreed that we couldn't have the two pairs of identical ones near each other, so had a narrow range of options. It still took us about a half hour to come up with this arrangement:


Part of the way through the process, we realized that batik squares clashed pretty seriously with the floral fabric of the bedspread in our room, and I laid out the sashing fabric I intended to use. This picture shows the squares pinned to the fabric before we quit for the night, pretty sure that I would like it in daylight. I decided the most appropriate next step was to take a long soak in the tub in my way-cushy room and eat some chocolate.


A close up of my friend, Lynn, completing a Valentine gift for another guild member, after she had left for the evening on Friday... it was wrapped and waiting beside her sewing achine Saturday morning. This is a Japanese family crest appliqued in place.


This is the view that greeted me the next morning, when I laid the fabric on the hall floor, with daylight streaming in the window behind. I decided this arrangement was congenial, and then proceeded to add to those four squares that had turned out too small to "stretch to fit" and begin assembling the quilt top. It took me all day, but below is the assembled top:




Meanwhile, my fellow guild members were hard at work on their scrappy mysteries, which involved lots of strip piecing, cutting apart sewn sections, and reconfiguring... Mary J. was the first one to complete the mystery:


She chose oriental fabrics, which were strongly set off by her deep red background fabric. The patched border adds a rich dimension of texture and interest to her final quilt top. She was very pleased with the results.


Julia was also pleasantly surprised; she was trying to use up some very bright novelty printed that had been passed along to her, and they came together quite well... I liked the way denim feel of her border matched the child-oriented prints.

I also got a photo of Shelley's version:




I didn't stay for Saturday night and Sunday, so did not get photos of other results, but one of the best parts of this process is getting to see close up what different results the makers' fabric choices produce. JoAn was using Christmas fabrics, Renetta and her sister Sophia were both using the same scraps, but Renetta had chose a pale yellow background, while Sophia's was dark red, producing a very different feel in each quilt top. Mary W. was using batik fabrics with a black background, a combination that I really like a lot, as it makes a strong statement, and the batiks are greatly highlighted.

I always come away informed and refreshed from our weekends, and for my fellow Foothill Fibers Guild member-readers, want to put in a plug for the Inn, as it is a great place to have a quiet, off-season retreat. A Grass Valley scrapbooker held a retreat here in the fall that was as fun for the participants as our gathering to us. It is always a gift to share your passion with like-minded friends.

5 Comments:

Blogger Ruinwen said...

Your quilt is lovely so far. Will you put little squares in the borders like the mystery quilts?

I'm glad you had a relaxing weekend!

Ruinwen
:)

2:38 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Oh good plug for the Inn! We've been thinking about a spinner's retreat. . .

6:51 AM  
Blogger Lynette said...

Wow, those are beautiful quilts! I'm a closet country girl at heart - those quilts look so homey and artful at the same time. Kudos to all!

7:53 AM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

(((hugs))) to you, dear! I'm hoping the retreat made you feel better than the previous post indicated ... Have heard so little from you in our groups. I caught that little (very little) comment about "achy" and hope you are doing better now...?

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Colette said...

I didn't know you quilted too! I'm not surprised though. I haven't quilted in what seems to be "forever". Your work is lovely and I do like the final arrangement you chose for your "surprise" squares.

7:34 AM  

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