Back from trip and Inspiration

Just came back from a wonderful trip to New England! I will have more to share on that later on, but meanwhile, here’s a picture of me in front of a great lighthouse (the Nubble Lighthouse) in York, New Hampshire.

Here’s a great picture of the town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

 I am struck by how awesome the perspective lines interact with the traffic signals, and how the big blue of the sky interacts with the big grey of the street -the whites and reds of the buildings serve a great contrast. Here’s another one from the same town, slightly different take:

Loving how the Big Yellow takes over that landscape!  Here’s another interesting city view, this time from Bath, Maine.

I in particular like the role that the verticals play in communicating the top half with the bottom half of the landscape, and it reminds me of a different quilt I made (seen at right).

Many other quilts I’ve made have likewise been inspired by the different sorts of lines that can be found in the world at large. This makes travelling and finding a reason or excuse to photograph lots of different sorts of things so rewarding.

In other words: why am I taking all these crazy pictures, aside from love of travel? Simple: it is an inspiration in terms of what can be seen and then translated to a never before seen quilting pattern. I have written about inspiration in this past post, but here am specifically fixated on how the urban environment can inspire quilts.

Am posting more below, along with examples of how the specific ideas already have appeared, in some fashion or other, in quilts I’ve made over the years.

what of this view from inside the bookstore?

This bookstore is one of those great old-timey, pre Barnes and Noble bookstores that a lucky person can still find in small towns now and again. This particular jewel was in the quaint town of Bath, Maine. One can see a jumble of books, but one can see many many quilts in process.

I draw attention to the many small slivers of different colours, to the play between the horizontal shelves and the vertical books, all of different widths but still within a very narrow range, and to toe fact that some dynamism is suggested by the piles on the bottom right and the slight bend in the shelving which takes everything slightly off vertical.

This photo, and others from the bookstore, actually remind me a lot of one of the first selvage quilts I ever made, and which I wrote about here.

Flipping it on its side, a person can immediatey see the similarities! If I wanted to work in the odd book pile patterns into a quilt, I would take the bottom row and create different squares, just to break the uniformity of it all. I have done this in numerous quilts, used completely different and unexpected blocks to create interest or at times, simply to utilize whatever materials were available.

This is a good example, which I have blogged about in the past – a quilt that I made for one of the charity events that the Guild participates in:

 I am not the only person who finds inspiration from the outside world for her quilts. Recently at a quilt meeting a very talented guest speaker gave a fascinating slideshow presentation expressing the need to always keep the fires of creativity and inspiration stoked, and consistently spoke of the need to open one’s eyes to the non-quilting world. She showed some amazing photos of cast iron fences, fanciful gates made out of ski posts, whimsical sidewalk bricks and cobblestones, and plenty of random skylines, paintings, landscapes, and even portraits.

She spoke of how an artist (and yes of course a quilter) can train her eye to distill the essence of what is seen – shapes, colours, organizational structures, textures, etc – and derive from these a completely amazing quilt pattern that has never been seen before. She encouraged us to go out there with a camera and take pictures of anything that struck our fancy – such as this great coffee shop wall here!

This remarkable place is Caffe Kilim in Portsmouth, NH. Everything about this place screams VISUAL INSPIRATION.

 Caffe Kilim is actually a great place to look for quilting inspiration, since it not only serves coffee and Turkish delights, but also doubles as a rugs and general Turkish goods marketplace! This place truly is out of the 1001 Nights:

From their website:

“Coffee break time! Come join us for a friendly cup in the seacoast’s favorite coffee shop! Order a custom made espresso drink or choose from a lineup of freshly brewed drip coffees. Dancing Goats is the favorite!
Kilims and local art adorn the walls while Turkish music sets an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation with a taste of the exotic.
Come to our new market right next door and take home some Turkish and Mediterranean specialty foods.
And check out our cool gift items, kilims and blue beads!!
Nova Merch is our neighbor in the market. Browse local artisan jewelry, hand woven wearables, unique finds and antiques.”

I know if I lived here I would spend all my time at this shop.

In any event, I hope that folks enjoyed this possibly unusual post that documents how and where quilting inspiration can strike.

A Couple of Quilts and a Thoughtful Moment

Just a couple of quick quilts for today!

This pretty quilt, made with strips pattern of fabric, was created with alternating squares to make the centre look like a basket weave. This quilt is a great example of how the fabric can create the pattern, look, and general character of a quilt.

this quilt was one of the Healing Hugs quilts that I make for charity purposes. These charming hobby horse squares really defined the essential quality of this quilt, and allowed me to have a nicely intricate quilt without adding too much more to it.

This quilt I remember was particularly well-received because it just so happened that one of the organizers knew exactly who would most appreciate this quilt: an ailing person who loved horses!

When we can do anything that can aid a fellow human being, especially through our own creativity, we feel expanded, somehow. It is very easy for me – too easy in fact – to feel despair and anger about the world and humanity at large, especially when I am daily bombarded with headlines that boast of the stupidity and hatefulness of the world, our so-called leaders, the diminishing environment, and the possible end of the world.

But at the end of the day, simply focusing our mind towards whatever small, manageable skill we have that can help, even if one person, the darkness recedes somehow. And cumulatively, darkness collectively will recede if we all choose to focus on what we can do, constructively, to bring light to the world.

I like to think so anyhow.


All art forms can represent different styles, and are expressed through different schools. Quilting is no exception.

As well, different patterns emerge as popular, and handed down through the ages. I may do a post later on outlining different sorts of patterns quilters rely on, and a bit on where they emerged.
Quilters, just like painters, can sometimes prefer one pattern, or one style, over another. I don’t have a favorite pattern per se, but I really like the technique of  improvisational piecing, thus my love for the modern quilting movement, from which I get a lot of my inspiration.
The Modern Quilting Movement describes itself thus:
Modern quilting has existed in many forms for much of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 2000’s that quilts with a modern aesthetic began to appear in greater numbers and quilters began to describe themselves as modern.
A defining event occurred in 1998 when Martha Stewart Living featured Denyse Schmidt, calling her quilts a “chic, modernist aesthetic.” For many quilters in the early days of the movement, this was a key inspirational moment.
The growth of the movement was facilitated by four factors: the cultural shift of quality design being recognized by the general public, affordable digital cameras, the changing fabric industry and the rise of social media.
Some of the guild’s aesthetic elements include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work.
Here is an example of a fabulous quilt by Shannon Page; winner of 2nd prize in her organization:
This is one of my favourites: …and the moon at night by Colleen Molen. I love the lack of symmetry and the hypnotizing round shapes – very lunar indeed:
Please visit the Modern Quilt Guild to view more wonderful quilts.