Last night I finished putting up all the patches on my design wall for the Streak of Lightning quilt. I believe that a design wall is one of the most important things in a quilter's studio. When I teach a class, I assign it as homework for any quilter who does not have one. I realize that the wall takes space. If that's a problem for you I will reply with, "where there's a will, there's a way!" The wall can be portable or permanent. The best design choices and quilt "conversations" happen sitting in a chair, looking at the design wall, and evaluating your desicions before proceeding.

Naturally, as this quilt emergedl I had to make specific fabric choices - especially for the zig-zag streaks running vertically between the nine-patches. My initial thoughts were to make a few of them very bright so they would stand out. As the quilt grew on the design wall (from left to right) I began second guessing some of those choices. However, rather than trying to fix anything at the moment, my tried and true advice is to just keep moving forward - keep evaluating - and since nothing is sewn (except the nine-patch units) I can move, rearrange or replace anything. I didn't want to stop and fix anything until I saw the full quilt on the design wall. In this case, if I had stopped my progress to redo a streak, I would still be uncertain and probably slow the progress of getting the overall design on the wall.

Last night when all the patches were on the wall I sat and studied my progress. There were three places that bothered me, and they were the same three sections that had bothered me over the past few days. Here is what the quilt looked like before I went to bed.

The three streaks that seemed out of place to me are the orange/coral, the bright yellow, and the bright mint green. I don't dislike those streaks and I could have left them in. I really liked the entire right side of the quilt. The thing I liked best was the use of my Caveman Pastel (I call it my Miracle Fabric). It is the seemingly iridescent streak just to the right of the second black streak. It is not a fabric that folks gravitate to, but for me it creates the miracle of movement in light areas. We all know that we need 'lights' even though they are not fun to purchase.

So, this morning I replaced the coral, yellow, and mint green streaks with some miracle fabric and another multi-color. Compare the two and I think you'll agree that they both look good, but the second version (shown below) is more cohesive across the design. 

Related blog to this post - HERE.

Unrelated Trivia:
Yesterday I worked on this quilt about 12 hours.
I had a glass of milk this morning for breakfast
I watched a lot of The Universe on History 2 yesterday. This morning it's been Cowboys and Outlaws (Tom Horn) on H2 
Today's To-dos: Edit Gammill and Bernina videos. Work on this quilt. My threads arrived - so maybe more longarm quiltling - whoo-hoo!

All this and more.... I'm just sayin'...

I juggle a lot of balls and this blog will prove it.

Over the weekend I was able to FINALLY load a quilt top onto the Gammill longarm quilting machine that is sitting in my new studio - whoo-hoo! The machine is here to tape short educational Gammill videos for The Quilt Show. Look for those soon at They are called Longarm Lifelines with Linda Thielfoldt. 

Most of you know I'm a push-the-quilt sort of guy, the free-motion quilting kind. However, I'm not resistant to trying new things. Well... since there just happens to be a Gammill in my studio, why not give it a go? I'm green when it comes to long arm quilting but not totally green.

About two years ago a friend who owns a Gammill urged me give it a whirl. I loaded one of my dad's quilts and quilted the whole thing. After it was finished I realized that the tension was so bad on the back that I could never bind and finish the quilt. It was sad, and I didn't have the time to invest in picking out all those quilting stitches. The quilt stayed tucked away.

Fast forward... this past February the Gammill was installed in my studio by the Kelly/Terry team from Ft. Collins, CO. Kelly saw the quilt and mentioned that she knew someone who would pick out ALL of the quilting stitches. It was worth the price I paid to have it done and the quilt arrived back to me last week. This photo shows the impressions of what had been the quilting design.

Rewinding... this past May I found some old UFO quilt blocks. These blocks were cowboy boot blocks that had been given to me as a gift from Circle in the Square Quilters back in 1993. I arranged the blocks into a fun quilt and named it Deadwood. Deadwood is the name of a historic mining town in South Dakota. There is an intense HBO series by the same name. Here's the Deadwood quilt top.

Now...back to the quilt I loaded this past weekend - it's the Deadwood quilt. I ordered thread from Superior Threads and those should arrive tomorrow. In the meantime, I was able to at least quilt the cream/white areas of the first two rows. I thought you might like to see how I'm doing - and I'm sure open to suggestion.

For the most part, I'm still plugging along on the Streak of Lightning quilt waiting for my threads to arrive.

Stay tuned! I'm just sayin'....

I LOVE old traditional quilts! I love the fact that they are usually a bit wonky and the grass roots designs often capture my imagination. I can't always jump in and make my own contemporary version of the old quilts that inspire me but I have been known to do so.

Recently, I discovered an image of an antique Streak of Lightning quilt in a book called The Darwin D Bearley Collection Antique Ohio Amish Quilts (©2006) published by Bernina and Darwin Bearley. It has an introduction written by Johathan Holstein. 

Inside I saw this quilt.

Most of you know my dad quilts. He's quilted since 1991 - we both started the same week - without planning it! Dad will turn 86 in November and this year he has not quilted very much. So during my parent's recent visit to La Veta, I wanted to see if he still had his quilting chops. I sat him in front of the Bernina 550 and told him I needed strips sets sewn together with perfect 1/4" seams. He was great! We spent a day sewing and cutting fabric using the Streak of Lightning antique quilt from the book as our guide.

At the end of the day we had made a lot of progress.

Dad is back home in Texas but today I've had time to work some more on the quilt. I feel it will be very challenge to get the colors right in this one. I want it to be colorful and contemporary because that's just what I do - so I'll keep on working - keeping my fingers crossed it all turns out great. Have you ever taken an old quilt and put a contemporary spin on it?

Well, needless to say, I have been a busy man. I left Germany and headed to Moscow where I enjoyed a day of sight seeing followed by a day of lectures. It's hard to absorb so much in such a little time, but hopefully some of it will stick in my memory - at least I have photos - and a new Russian hat! No, that's not my new hat in the photo above, but ask real nice and I might show you a picture. Thanks to Natalya for being such a good guide and host! I have a video to post soon, so watch out for that.

Then I was off to Spain where I enjoyed two days of wonderful classes in Girona followed by a day of touring in Barcelona. Rafael was brilliant at organizing fantastic classes for me in Girona and Rosario, a great ambassador for quilting in Spain who I had met several times in Houston, was my interpreter. My family friends Adria and Gisela gave ma a tour in Barcelona that led to the Sagrada Familia (designed by Antoni Gaudí) and Guell Park where Gaudi created one of the most interesting public parks in the world.

Next on my stop was the Netherlands and Belgium where I also taught classes. Rianne is head of Bernina in the Netherlands and Belgium and I really enjoyed seeing her optimistic outlook on sewing and quilting in that part of the world. I also enjoyed some touring time - having Flemish Fries while I toured Bruge, Belgium, and made a visit to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam on my birthday (March 11).

Now I have landed in Steckborn, Switzerland - at the world headquarters for Bernina! Today I am resting - but it's just another calm before the storm - I'll be pedaling very fast again very soon! Stay tuned - and let's here a big worldwide WHOO-HOO for the Whoo-hoo World Tour 2012!

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