Monday, September 23, 2013

My long-term project is completed!

Last November, I told you about a long-term project I was working on, made of pieced hexagons. I am happy to report that the quilt is done. And I mean really DONE - quilted, bound, with a label and a sleeve. It made its first public appearance at the Squanicook Colonial Quilt Guild show last week.

Hooked on Hexies - it's done!
It represents countless hours of hand-stitching to make the blocks and assemble the top, and hand applique (yuk – the A-word!) to attach the borders. Then some outstanding machine quilting by my friend Maureen Blanchard, and finally a piped binding at the edge. This finishing touch was a new technique for me. Challenging and totally worth it for the polish it lends to the overall look.

Working on the piped binding. Isn't the quilting fantastic?
I'm proud of the end result, but it's also sort of bittersweet. I have spent over a year with this creation, and now that it's done, well, what do I do with my hands? I have another English Paper Piecing project started, and while it has its charm, I don't anticipate the same extended relationship with it.

My new EPP project - Lucy Boston blocks
So I guess I'll just have to do some quick projects in the months ahead. But if I am patient and quiet, I'll bet that a new long-term project will reveal itself, and I'll embark on a new year-long adventure! 

Are you working on a long-term project? I'd love to hear about it! 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The New England MQX Quilt Festival

For those of you who love to quilt or appreciate quilts....come to the Radisson Expo Center at 700 Elm Street in Manchester for The New England MQX Quilt Festival from April 11-13. Come look for us at the Purple MooseDesigns Booth in the vender's mall!

MQX East - Home

Sunday, November 18, 2012

 Slow down, and enjoy the ride

Quilt-in-a-day, fast-fun-and-easy, weekend wonders, jelly-roll-races. So many projects are all about how quickly we can complete them. Sometimes that's a very good thing, especially when there's a deadline to meet. Birthdays and babies, weddings and graduations, events coming at us left and right on the calendar. None of us has a surplus of time these days, so there is certainly a place for quick projects.

But if quilting is what we love to do, why would we want to rush through it? Shouldn't we try to make the enjoyment last? With that thought in mind, I'd like to put in a good word for the long-term project. I'm not talking about a quilt that takes two weeks or even two months to complete. I mean a real long-term commitment, a relationship. Something to nurture, something that evolves and grows under our hands, and becomes dear to us through prolonged contact.

Block-of-the-month projects are a step in the long-term direction. At the outset, we know it's going to be at least a year before we see anything resembling a completed quilt. If we are committed from the beginning to follow through, we dutifully complete each month's task (even if we're up past midnight on the night before the next class). It's fun early on, but something else inevitably comes along, causing us to set aside the comfy and familiar in favor of the shiny and new, leaving us with a pile of blocks that never gets put together and finished. How sad and anti-climactic. Ask me how I know...

my pile from 2011's $5 block-of-the-month -
out of the box for the first time in almost a year...
Then there are projects that are long-term simply because we only work on them once in a while. I belong to a small quilting group, I guess you could call us a “bee.” Some members have bee-specific projects, worked on only at our monthly gatherings. For at least two years, my friend Cheryl brought the same hand-quilting project to the bee. Hand-quilting is by its very nature a long-term project, one that encourages us to slow down and savor the process.  All those stitches lovingly applied one-by-one bond us with the finished article in a profound way, I believe.

So imagine our delight when Cheryl finally looked up from her work one night and said, “I think it's done!” Her patience and persistence, and her acceptance of that project as a long-term effort finally paid off. She knew, and so did we, that it would be done eventually, and so it was.

Cheryl's hand-quilted "Rabbit" quilt
But my favorite kind of long-term project is the one that has no predetermined end. It begins when we become captivated by an idea, a technique, a vague vision of what might emerge. As we construct and assemble the elements, the vision becomes clearer. It needs time to marinate in our brains, to take shape in our hands. It benefits from an unhurried pace, developing complexity and character as it grows.

I am in the midst of one such project. By now my friends are well-acquainted with my obsession for pieced hexagons, made entirely by hand, using the English paper-piecing method. When I began the project last summer, I had no idea how far I would take it. Over 70 blocks later, I'm still not completely sure. Countless hours of stitching, and I've enjoyed every minute.

Each block has felt like a tiny project on its own, instead of a tiny part of a big project, with the accompanying sense of accomplishment when I complete each one. Looking at that stack of blocks, I can now begin to see what the completed quilt might look like. And I like it!

Hexies on the design wall -
seeing the full effect for the first time
But don't expect to see a photo of the finished quilt anytime soon. I plan to take my time, and enjoy every minute of this ride, until I too can look up and say to my friends, “I think it's done!”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Quilter's Gathering

Hello everyone!
I just wanted to thank you all for your wonderful encouragement and support during my experience as a contestant during the McCall's Design Star 2012 contest.  I didn't win the final round, but the journey along the way was awesome!

Great news! The New England Quilt Designers will be vending at one of my all time favorite quilt shows from November 1st to the 4th.  We will have a booth at "A Quilter's Gathering" this year.
This is a large juried show that also has some special exhibits. There is a HUGE vendor's mall as well.
Please come see the show and stop by our booth to say HI!
"A Quilter's Gathering" will be held this year at the Radisson Hotel Convention Center on Elm Street in Manchester, NH.  You can go to to find out more information about teachers,vendors, special exhibits, directions, etc.
See you next weekend at the show!
Kristi Parker
Chicken Soup Designs

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Design Star Quilt Challenge

 I was looking through a McCall's Quilting Magazine last spring and happened upon an offer to all designers to participate in the 2012 Design Star Challenge.  There weren't too many details given, but all I had to do was send in a photo of a completed quilt.  So, I went ahead and sent in this photo (above) of my "Autumnal Equinox" quilt.

The general public had to vote for their favorite quilt, up to once a day, for a designated voting period. After approximately two weeks, one of the McCall's Quilting editors contacted me and said I was officially in the contest as a "professional" category contestant.  "Oh boy...", I thought, "what have I gotten myself into?  It's not as if I don't already have enough to do already!"

After accepting the challenge, I was told to make a quilt top that used the "Storm at Sea" block.  The only other guideline was that it had to be at least 24" square or larger.  I dug around in my stash of fabrics and found lots of pretty blues, purples, and teals. I love the Storm at Sea pattern, so I blew it up and then incorporated my other favorite block, Mariner's Compass into it.  Here's how it came out.

I named this one "Lost at Sea" because I made it as a tribute to my great grandfather who was a sea captain and had a harrowing time while lost at sea.  He finally made it back home and married the love of his life (I guess if he hadn't, I wouldn't be here to tell his story!)  My great grandmother made him promise to never go out to sea again!
 I've learned a bunch of stuff during this whole of which is that you must have good  lighting when you take a photo of a quilt!  The colors in "Lost at Sea" are much more vibrant than they look....I blame it on the poor lighting!
So once again the public voted and my quilt was chosen.  The field of 35 contestants was narrowed down to 15.  I was anxious to see what the next challenge would they sent us 1 yard of just about the ugliest fabric I've ever seen.....
The rules this time were that at least 20% of the quilt top had to utilize this stuff.  UGH.  I hung it up on the wall and stared at it for a very long time.  WHAT was I going to do with this stuff?  But then I looked more closely and look what I saw.....  an alien monster!!!!!!

As soon as I saw him, the ideas started flowing!  I stayed up one night into the wee hours of the morning playing with this fabric.  I wasn't sure that the general public would like my idea, but I had loads of fun putting this one together.  I named it "Family Reunion on the Garden Planet LuLuThi".  (LuLuThi is the name of the fabric). 
I had a blast making these little monsters doing all kinds of fun activities at their family reunion picnic.

Of course I had to put a clown in there as part of the entertainment!
Anyway, I was quite surprised when this one "made the cut" and I was moved on to the final round of the contest.  There are now 9 of us competing in the professional category and 9 competing in the amateur category.
For the last round we were given the theme "Opposites Attract".  This quilt was supposed to be at least the required minimum of 24" square and totally finished. They gave us a bit more time to work on the project since it had to be quilted and bound and sent in to the McCall's headquarters.  Did I take advantage of the extra time???.  No, of course not!  It happened to fall upon the beginning of the school year, so my life was crazy hectic (I am a teacher, too).  I have also been very involved with the preparations for my oldest son's upcoming wedding, and Autumn is my busiest season for clown the quilt contest sat on the back burner for a while.  I basically designed, pieced, appliqued, and quilted "Fire and Ice" in about a week. I didn't get much sleep, but I got it done and in the mail on time.

The inspiration for this one came from a fond memory from this summer when my youngest son and I laid down on the dock up at the lake and watched meteor showers.  I don't think that it is physically possible for an icy comet and a fiery meteor to come close enough to collide  in space, but just think of the awesome display in the sky if that were to happen!  I had the most fun quilting this one. I used metallic threads and did it all free motion.  I wish the quilting details showed up in the photo!

One of the unexpected perks of all this was that the McCall's people sent "goodie boxes" of some really nice prizes (like luscious fabric...yum) to contestants after completing each round.  I wasn't expecting that...but it was a really nice surprise.  I think the grand prize is a sewing machine, but I never had that in my sights from the beginning.  I just did it for the fun of it.  It got my creative juices flowing.  The only stressful part was during the last round when I had so much other stuff on my plate.  I have had many friends cheering me on as I have gone through this challenge and I appreciate their support very much. One of the nicest things that happened is that I have also met a new friend.  Julie is another one of the contestants and we seem to think along the same creative lines.  We have developed an on-line friendship, and I hope to meet this talented lady in person someday.

Folks can vote for their favorite quilt every day up until October 21st.  Here is the link to my submission.
 I will post the final results after October 23rd.
Thanks for your interest and your votes!
Kristi Parker
Chicken Soup Designs

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The thrill of seeing your design through the eyes of another!

Last month one of our intrepid NEQDC designers, Beth Helfter, posted an article about how great it feels when a designer sees one of her quilt patterns transformed into a fabulous finished quilt by someone else.  It is hard to describe how it feels to experience your own design as seen through another quilter's eyes -  their color choices (ones you might never have thought of), their placement of dark and light fabrics which can completely change the feel of the design, and so on.  It is an awesome experience!  I always ask quilters who purchase my patterns to send me photos of their finished projects.  I wish more people would do that.  I would love to have a whole page on my website of examples of my patterns made by other quilters.

Above is my own "Here Comes the Sun" - a pattern I recently published. (All of the fabrics used in this quilt are from the Marblehead line, designed by Ro Gregg for Fabri-Quilt.)  I had asked my good friend Trudi to test the pattern using her own fabric choices.  See how different her finished top looks from mine!  What beautiful colors and the use of the center panel sets the tone for the entire quilt.  (I hate to say it, but I think I like her quilt better than mine!)  Thank you Trudi for doing such a great job!  (I am very lucky - Trudi has offered to test future patterns of mine as well.  Woo Hoo!)

By the way, you can see members of NEQDC and all of our fabulous quilts, patterns, notions and other "quilty" goodies at the Maine Quilt Show, in Augusta ME next weekend, July 26-29.  Hope to see you there!

Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design
Come visit me on Pinterest!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hello everyone,
I am pleased to be chosen as one of 15 entrants in the next level of the McCall's Design Star Challenge.  In the professional category, a "Storm at Sea" block had to be incorporated into the design.  The pool of talent represented is admirable.  Please go to the link and check out the quilts!  You can vote for your favorite EVERY DAY from now until July 8th.  Enjoy the beautiful quilts and perhaps get inspired along the way!
My quilt entry is titled "Lost at Sea" in honor of my great-grandfather.  You can read the story that inspired the quilt (posted under the photo.) Thanks for your support!