Friday, July 9, 2010

Baby Bear Paw ready for adventure

The first Baby Bear Paw quilt is not only peiced, appliqued, quilted, and bound, it has been delivered to its new home in the lobby of Pinecone Playhouse in West Yellowstone, Montana.  The theater lobby is also an art gallery, so it is terrific to see a piece of handwork there.  (It suddenly seems odd to use that term only for needle and thread, yarn and cloth works, since the watercolors and oils are done by hand too. ) My sister Antonia handquilted the Baby Bear.  Yes, My Sisters Quilt.  The capital letters are because I want to do an article or perhaps a book some day with the title My Sister's Quilt. At present the quilters are sisters and sisters-in-law, but neices and granddaughters are coming along quickly. 

One of the things that excites me about the Heritage Quilt Workshop is the opportunity to pass on the skills I've learned both in the family, from friends and teachers, and by trial and error.  One of the questions we've had about the workshop is whether we should insist on Only By Hand as the guiding principle. The Baby Bear Paw is machine pieced, hand appliqued, and hand quilted.  Is there a problem with that?

When I first started attending The Quilt Set meetings, the ladies were rather apalled by my mix of hand and machine work.  They were disciples of Sandi Fox (who did a great deal not only to promote quilting when it seemed to be dying, but also to teach techniques that lead her students and their students to understand the art) and thought I was a little brash to be dabbling in strip pieceing and machine applique. I think theyput up with me because I was willing to thread needles for some of the more mature eyes in the group. 

My answer to the dear women of the original Quilt Set group is the same I offer now:  my great-great grandfather's sister's husband bought one of the first sewing machines to 'cross the plains' for the use of their pioneer household.  My grandmother who was born in 1893 used a machine to piece her quilts, whether made in 1925 or 1975, but they were always hand-quilted. 

I enjoy hand-peicing and applique, and handquilting, but I also enjoy the speed with which I can machine piece and quilt for my rambuntious grandson.  There are occasions for combining machine and hand work, and there is no moral imperative to seek an imagined purity of as-our-grandmothers-did-it.  Whatever degree of space age technology we may use, somewhere on the continuum, there is a place for all of us as quilters

So whether you are a hand-piecer or a machine-piecer, or even a stripper, the finished quilts and a comfortable closet full of projects for next week and the week beyond are valuable, whatever the method of construction.

Hmm.  I wonder if a picture of a planned quilt is an appropriate gift for newlyweds who sent virtual invitations to their wedding festivities. ???

Quote of the week:   "There's perfect, and there's good-enough."  Renae G. Allen (RGA Designs)