things that have happened


The other day, I got this image, of the cover that I illustrated for two novellas, Women Born with Fur, by Beth Couture, and Out from the Pleiades, by Leslie McGrath. These are beautifully told, strange and wonderful stories about powerful women. I hope you’ll take a read when they come out this fall, from Jaded Ibis Press. I’ve had the great honor of illustrating them, and the publisher designed this cover with my images. This tops the list of things I never imagined might happen — the delightful, wonderful, amazing things I never imagined might happen — in a year of over-the-top goodness.

I’ve traveled far and wide, as the old cliché goes, from Seattle and Denver, to Kansas City, to glorious Pittsburgh, to big NYC, to Portland, ME, and all over Massachusetts. More trips to come next year, but for now, I’m home for a spell. A new friend told me along the way that traveling so much makes being home all the sweeter — and it does. I’m soaking up the beach, loving my woods walks, going to brunch with friends, playing in the sand with friends and their kids, watching turkeys wander through the yard.

This weekend, I took a nonfiction workshop with Nicole Walker, one of my writing heroes — read her book Quench Your Thirst with Salt, if you haven’t yet; it’s a beautiful story of water, family, and Salt Lake City. We had an intense and productive writing conference weekend at URI, and then I took a trip up to Portland, Maine, for one last event.

I plan to be back on here more regularly now that my life is more regular. I’m going to add to the stories that need filling in, and tell the stories of some new folks I’ve met along the way.

So — Hello, again! Are you enjoying summertime and unwinding, too? Are you sewing like crazy? Working too hard? If so, I hope your break is on its way.

Here’s some of what happened in Portland, at Samantha Lindgren’s huge space — stocked with every machine you might need — A Gathering of Stitches, with Alice Webb Greer, Danielle Krcmar, and Jan Johnson. If you’re anywhere near Portland, and have a project that needs making, head on over to her shop. Or think about bringing your sewing crew for a retreat. It’s a great space with good making-energy and occupied studios where quilters, sewers, and weavers work away.

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Isn’t it a nice space?

Those are the quilts by the presenters, above left, and Samantha and her team, and their quilts, and then us, with Audrey Greer, Alice’s awesome daughter who has a bag pattern that I’ll post here next week. It’s the perfect summer beach bag.

Below, is a flashback to a trip I took to East Bridgewater, MA, to speak at the public library. I love the sweet sign they put out front! And this great group of quilters greeted me there, and let me take their picture in front of a quilt the library has hanging; it’s a story quilt about the town’s glories and history.

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I wish I could post pictures from Kansas City and MARKET in Pittsburgh, but my cell phone was stolen, and those pictures were lost (gah!!). I do have this one gem from Market, when Katy Jones, John Q. Adams, Angela Walters, Victoria Findlay-Wolfe, Sarah Fielke, and Thomas Knauer crowded together to sign books with me. I have to say, this was one of my favorite moments of the year — it was so much fun to have together some of the amazing contributors in the book. And they were such good sports about the tight seating and race-pace signing.

10300896_10152395687076740_6858535938114072828_n   Hooray! Look at them! Thank you again, you six!

Back home, I had this wonderful sewing night at Candice Smith-Corby‘s, and she showed off one of the quilts she just whipped up, you know, with no quilting experience, on a whim?!



For now, I’m headed for the beach, writing and revising, and working on some Alabama Chanin dresses. Happy summer to you, and hope you’re finding relaxing times ahead! More soon…


If I Can (bomp bomp) Make it There…

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This weekend was jam-packed in NYC. On Saturday morning, I got to speak at the Metro Mod Quilt Guild, New York’s modern guild. They’re doing such amazing things there! Piles of baby quilts to donate, a massive paper-pieced hexie project, and the show and tell — WOW! I have to get permission to post some of those photos. They are so talented down in NYC! It was an honor to get to speak a bit about the book there. Thank you for having me, Metro Mod-ers! There they are, below, looking on during show and tell, and to the right is a project by Jessica Alexandrakis, whose book on paper piecing I got to read and delight in when I got home from New York. If you’re into paper piecing, check this one out! She signed each of the pieces as she quilted it, to remember where she made it. I like that take on signature quilts.

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On Sunday, we were at City Quilter‘s gallery, the Art Quilt Gallery NYC, surrounded by a beautiful show by Karen Rips. Lisa Mason, Caroline Mason, Victoria Findlay-Wolfe, Rayna Gillman, and Jan Johnson were the panel and spoke about their aesthetic and process and showed some of their work. I loooooved seeing their quilts in person. Some of them I got to see during the book photo shoot, but others, like Victoria’s peacock (below) were new to me. They’re each so talented. You should go and check out their blogs, linked above, as they’re each chronicling their work and others’ in interesting ways. This week, they each wrote incredible posts about the event…and the book! Victoria even had us make a video at the end of the event (posted on her blog). That was my first experience with movie-making. :) You can find Victoria’s and Rayna’s books here: Fifteen Minutes of Play, by Victoria Findlay Wolfe  and Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts, by Rayna Gillman. They’re both teaching around the clock, too, so check out their traveling schedules on their blogs — you may find them near you this spring and summer!

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In the middle, above, is Caroline’s amazingly huge quilt, which she made for her and her boyfriend’s bed. And to the right, that’s Rayna, Victoria, Lisa, and Caroline, chatting beforehand.

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That’s all of us, above, and Chris above right, the City Quilters who hosted us. That is one beautiful space, full of fabric and classes and great ideas.

Jan and I made it to the Whitney Biennial, where we saw Sheila Hicks’ work, that image at the very top in the middle, of hanging threads. Wow, wow to see her work in person! I was introduced to her art by poet Mary Pinard, and have been growing more and more enthusiastic about it in the years since. The colors in person were just amazing, and the texture and the knots!

We also got to spend time with my very favorite friends Matthew and Stan, who took us to an amazing Italian restaurant for dinner one night. The rest of the time, we went to Friedman’s Lunch. If you’re gluten free — or like whole farm-to-table-food — and like the Seattle-hip vibe, this place is for you. I LOVE it here. I could eat nearly everything, even the fried stuff! Heaven.

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The picture of the Empire State Building, very top right, was taken from my hotel room. What a view. It was a luxury, for sure. Thanks, Alee!

See you soon…

What Happens at the New England Quilt Museum stays at the… & a Winner

IMG_0607   Last weekend, Danielle Krcmar, Rebecca Loren, Stacey Shrontz, Jan Johnson, Jen Sorenson and her gorgeous aunt Karen, and I spent some time sewing and, at least in theory, signing books at the New England Quilt Museum. Sophia joined us, too; she’s the best-dressed ten year old I know and is big on the quilt-book circuit. :)

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The thing is…there was this exhibit of beautifully crafted dresses behind us as we sewed, and we couldn’t help playing a little. Danielle and Rebecca “tried on” the dresses — can’t you tell, in that top image, that they’re wearing them? Rebecca did a brilliant rendition of how a woman must’ve had to walk in a corset, narrow skirt, and bustle, but it won’t upload here (sorry, Rebecca, I know you wanted that to live forever on the internet)!

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Look! She’s wearing the dress! She stepped out of 1810!

After we sewed and got in some goofing around, we also explored the exhibit, which included this stunning hand-appliqued quilt, and a story quilt by Yvonne Wells.


I came home and kept working on the quilt I made of big, simple squares, which I’ve been hand-quilting for a few months now (gratuitous shot of my dog):


If you’re in New York this weekend, come to the Art Quilt Gallery NYC for a panel with Victoria Findlay-Wolfe, Lisa Mason, Caroline Mason, Jan Johnson, and Rayna Gillman! Sunday, 1pm.

Finally: Congrats, Mindy Tillett! You have been selected via the random and retro paper-names-in-a-hat method (keeping it real here) to win a copy of Thomas Knauer’s book! An email is on its way to you.


Modern Quilt Perspectives, by Thomas Knauer: A review & giveaway

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I’m so happy to be part of Thomas Knauer’s blog tour, to celebrate the release of Modern Quilt Perspectives: 12 Patterns for Meaningful Quilts. Hoorah hoorah, and congratulations, Thomas! It’s no small feat to write a book like this, and I’m happy to see the work evolving and emerging in this new genre — the well-written and developed blog being the first, of course.

I “met” Thomas a few years ago, when a friend pointed me to his blog and said I needed to talk to him for my book (he’s a contributor). I’m glad I did, because Thomas offers a different take on what we all do here in the quilting world (I say this as someone who’s a decidedly amateur quilter but an avid observer, writer, and converser within and about the community). When I talked to Thomas, our conversation swirled around what makes a quilt modern, art history’s influence on modern quilters, and how we talk about our own quilts. I saw right away that Thomas has a vision, and that he wants his work to contribute to what’s happening in the community today. And so it has –


What I like so much about this book is the way that he’s interwoven (I’ll never pass up the chance for a fiber pun) explanations of his own aesthetic and creative process — how each quilt was conceived, how he executed the design — with stories about the online modern quilt community, and anecdotes about his personal connections with quilts. For example, he describes how he and his daughter Bee use the Ampersand quilt (above) to tell stories together. They’ll point to a block, each of which has a character or image, and tell a story starting with that block. When they get stuck, they say “and…” and point to another and keep going. I’d love to make a quilt like this and use it in a children’s creative writing class; it’s such a great way of not just snuggling up under a quilt but of interacting together and using the quilt for what it’s always been used for — to tell our stories.

Similarly, “Sum of Interrelations” exemplifies the way the online community works together, as Thomas put out a call for help making blocks for this quilt and had, “within twenty-four hours,” “a full slate of volunteers.” Cleverly, each block is an “i,” which plays on that idea of the collective and the individual.

You’ll use a lot of different techniques in making the quilts in this book — reverse applique in one, matching seams and points in another, applique in another — and think more about the concepts that birth each of your quilts. How will you marry concept and object and process? It brings some of the ideas and conversations from contemporary art into quilting — even thinking about how patterns can be freeing. And, I should add, the instructions are easy to follow!

One of the quilts in this book is exhibited online by the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, that’s THE BIG MUSEUM!, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Go learn how to make it! Go buy the book! I’ve been snuggling under a quilt with a cup of tea, rereading it again today. The pictures are beautiful, the paper feels good in my hands, and the ideas and quilts are fabulous.

Please post a comment below to win a copy of Thomas’ book! What’s one piece of inspiration that helped you make a recent quilt, whether you followed someone else’s pattern or made your own?

UPDATE 4/4: Congratulations, Mindy Tillet! You won the book! Thanks to everyone who entered and talked about your inspiration — I loved hearing about your work!!

You can read more about the book in the ongoing blog tour, here.

April 1:
April 2:
April 3:
April 4:
April 5:
April 6:
April 7:
April 8:
April 9:

and then some

JP Knits Window      Books

This weekend, we had a panel-talk at JP Knit n Stitch.

rachels posse This time, it was me, Pippa Armbrester, and Alice Webb Greer. Alice took the photos in this thread — thank you, Alice!! If you head over to her blog today, you’ll find some more beautiful images of her hand-quilted hexies, which many people at the gathering wanted to steal, and some really nice words about the book. You rock, Alice. Have I mentioned how much she’s taught me about quilting? She also once opened up the tupperware bins in her sewing studio, gestured to the gorgeous stack of repros, and said, “Choose some.” Heart soared.

It was so SO good to see Pippa, who’s been occupied with preparing for her twins to come. She brought this quilt with her, one of my very favorites:

galleries I don’t know if you can tell from this image, but the circles are all quilted with threads to match! That’s so much work, changing thread each time! Each one is hand-appliqued to the pieced quilt, and the back is a soft red flannel, ultimate cozy. You can learn Pippa’s mad applique skills from a tutorial in my book and you can learn lots and lots more from her very own book, Solids, Stripes, Circles and Squares: 16 Modern Patchwork Patterns! It came out last year and is just beautiful. I love her singular vision and design eye. You can also buy some of her quilts from galleries in Boston or on commission. I’m lucky to have a hand-appliqued and embroidered piece that she made for me in a guild swap a few years back.

In the image above, Pippa is to my left, Alice to my right. And on the far left is my so-great primary care doc, Dr. Susan Hata, and on the far right is my friend Laura Everett, who’s a reverend. I wanted the doctor and the reverend in the picture together (I’ve never had a photo op like that before). It was so nice of them to take the time to come to JP on their day off (well, for the rev, day of work).

Look what Dr. Hata made for her son Eli — a sweet fussy-cut applique quilt with hand-stitched squares:

photo 1    photo 2    I love the storytime characters and the orange-blue-green hues together against the linen. And, she made this great sort of hook that she attaches to the stroller so Eli can’t lose it when they’re out and about: photo 1  Smart. I bet this is why she’s a doctor, thinking of things like this. :) Thank you for coming, Dr. Hata!!!

I also met a woman who told me about her first quilt, which was a bear claw pattern. Can you imagine, for your first quilt, the bear claw? If you don’t know what it is, check out this one on the Quilt Index (an amazing resource for quilts and historic knowledge, pattern inspiration from images, etc).

Judy Tucker came, and told me about her fantastic blog, where she recommends my book, as well as Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg & Cheryl Arkison (who helped inspire Rossie’s quilt pattern that’s in my book), and Katie Blakesley, Lee Heinrich, and Faith Jones’ Vintage Quilt Revival (they’re in my book, too). I love both those books and feel honored to be in good company with them. Thank you for the review, Judy! I love seeing some of your quilts. Head on over to her blog to see her latest, a sweet blog featuring Lizzy House’s cats:

photo 2 Laura and Carolyn pore over the book…(this isn’t posed AT ALL)…

JP Knits Store Shop owner Genevieve to the right, in orange.

JP Knits Gang Genevieve, Pippa, me, Alice, hamming it up…

…and one last shot that Alice took. She’s such a pro. To the left are her mini-quilts, half-square triangles and those coveted hand-sewn hexies, to the top is Pippa’s circles quilt, and to the right is the back of my quilt-in-progress, backed with Anna Maria Horner‘s voile. That woman is a design GENIUS, by the by. I love every single fabric she’s ever made. In fact, the very first modern fabrics I found were her first line. Mem’ries :)

Quilts With Book

Finally, I have to give a shout out to my cousin, Sarah Tetrault, who came to say hi. It was such a good surprise to see her! She’s a really talented painter. See?! This is from her website, which you should visit asap. Buy all of her paintings.


This is a drawing of her sweet dog (I’m a sucker for a cute dog…or an ugly dog, really):

This is from her blog, Cafe + Dish. On Sunday, when Sarah was hanging out w us, David was walking the dog in the gorgeous JP Arboretum. Also, apparently (I learned from the blog), she can cook. Why didn’t I learn this sooner? I’d have been at their house for dinner every night. AND, as if that wasn’t talent enough, she’s giving students voice through art work as a teacher. Look! They’re making incredible work.

The very best part about the book is spending more time with family and friends in my travels. Thanks for coming, Sarah.

I just finished my first Juki-ed project, this baby quilt, which I was trying to keep under wraps, but I forgot and posted it to FB. I started it when I went to Seattle and sewed with Katie Pedersen, who gave me the idea based on a design in her and Jacquie Gering‘s book, Quilting Modern. I added some strips and stripes here and there, and I’m going to bind it in some of the solids.

photo 4 Did I mention that the baby-recipient of this quilt is 8 mos old now? My gift-giving timing has never changed…but it’s the thought that counts, right?






BMQG retreat & Martha Stewart

Photo: Courtesy of Lee Heinrich
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above: “Cartwheels” by Lee Heinrich

[from Martha Stewart Living]

“Quilting Inspiration from ‘Quilting with a Modern Slant’”

Photo: John Polack

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“Monica Ripley’s Color Exploration”

I have to say that I never ever ever EVER imagined that anything I would write or make would be on Martha Stewart. Truly. Never entered my mind. Sure, I sometimes fantasized that Oprah and I would sit down to talk about my novel (every writer does this, right? …right???). But I never thought I’d make it into the pinnacle of the craft empire! I watched Martha’s show for years, and bought her magazines. And I made things along the way, as I did everything else. And now, in a strange and delightful twist of fate, making has become central — as if everything else was actually following it.The quilting book came to life, and now it’s making its way into the world, which is still such a shock to me — a wonderful and blissfully delightful shock.

The book is featured on the Martha Stewart Living site right now with a slide show of quilts by Lee Heinrich, Kim Eichler-Messmer, Monica Ripley, Elizabeth Hartman, Melissa Lunden‘s quilt made with Birch Fabrics, Kathreen Ricketson, Kyoung Ae Cho, Yoshiko Jinzenji, and Debbie Grifka of Esch House. The best part about writing this book is that I get to celebrate this community of incredible artists & quilters whose work has inspired me. To see their work gain even more recognition out there in the world is really exciting and makes me, to quote Kim Eichler-Messmer, pee my pants in a good way. :)
I’m grateful to Martha Stewart Living Editor Marcie McGoldrick for choosing this book — thank you, Marcie!! And to the great Alee Moncy at Storey who’s working hard to get the book out there. Exciting week. Congrats to all the featured quilters and hooray hooray for your work!! I looooove seeing your quilts up there (I won’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the slide show)!!!

This news came on the heels of a massive sewing weekend. I went to beautiful coastal Maine with the Boston Modern Quilt Guild on our annual retreat. Because of grad school, I haven’t been able to get to the retreat in ages, so it was a real…treat…to get there this year. Aimee Raymond organized the event and deserves a medal, as does our Pres Alice Webb Greer — thanks you two! Alice posted a rad photo collage of our weekend and some of the projects by our talented members — go check out the BMQG blog. :) My photos are coming as soon as I get them uploaded here. I got to hang out with some great sewing neighbors this weekend, who helped me master the Juki that has entered my life. More soon!

Seattle, Denver, Boston, and much big fun

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It has been a whirlwind two weeks! The photo above is from the most recent event we did at Porter Square Books this weekend. That’s my favorite Boston bookstore, and the place where I often camped out, running my hands over the beautiful pictures in quilting and sewing books, dreaming of future projects, and eventually, my own book. 

The quilts you see in the first image above are, at the top (blurry, in motion!), Maritza Soto‘s Modern Drunkard’s Path, for which she has a pattern here. And lying flat are Valerie Maser-Flanagan‘s quilts from the series Crevices and Small Parts.

Also on the panel were Jan Johnson, Andrew Mowbray, and Danielle Krcmar (more about Jan and Danielle below). You can see Andrew’s work written up in this month’s issue of Art in America — congrats, Andrew!

It’s so fun to get together with these artists and talk about their work. I’ve learned a lot from each of them about their process, style, and materials, and am in awe of what they make. The audience at Porter Square Books was full of quilters, who were great to chat with and talk quilting. I hope to see some of you again at our Boston Modern Quilt Guild meetings (check out the February show and tell on the Boston MQG blog — they are all so talented)!



From left to right: Maritza, Danielle, me, Valerie, Jan, and her awesome daughter Sophia. Afterwards, we celebrated at the delicious and gluten-free-friendly Posto in Davis Sqaure! Yummmm…


Over dinner, Danielle and Jan made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt — really REALLY hurt. I love being in my hometown with some of my favorite people.

Backtracking to Denver and the Rocky Mountains!: I was there Mar. 4-6 to sign books at Fancy Tiger, an amazingly well-stocked fabric and yarn and making shop. Wow, it’s beautiful.


I spent some time with the knitter/crafter group and learned about the making of a very long Dr. Who scarf, Amber’s cat-adorned cardigan, and a gorgeous laced knitted shawl.


Do you see the knitted deer head back there? I love that thing.

Amber, one of the owners, just published her first quilting pattern of this Four Winds quilt. She was putting on the final touches when I was there, and now it’s all ready to purchase. Isn’t it pretty? And it would be a quick one to whip up because of the giant triangles (which you could complicate with more piecing or strips, if you were so inclined). Go check it out on the Fancy Tiger blog.

(image is Fancy Tiger’s)

These are some of the great people I met at the shop, three quilters from the Denver area, who had me laughing and wishing I could hang out and sew with them:


You can see Samantha’s (left) blog here — scroll to her rad skull quilt posted Mar 6! You’ll also see that they’re doing the Tula Pink City Sampler, and have me tempted to jump in. I love those blocks, which they’re holding above (Sam is holding a sock ‘cuz she didn’t have her blocks with her :) ).

And finally, I got to speak at the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association‘s Spring Meeting, which was a great huge honor. My very good friend, Laura Ayrey, is the Executive Director of the Association, and gave me the chance to speak alongside some fantastic novelists, including Laura McBride, in whose debut novel I’m totally engrossed now:


Fellow Storey author, Patrick Dawson, who has written about vintage beer. I can’t drink it, but it sure sounds tasty:


The event was held at BookBar, which is such a cool venue — a bookstore with literary titles only, and, yes, a wine bar that also serves tasty snacks. It’s such a beautiful space. The owner, Nicole, treated me and Laura Ayrey to a really delicious Sauvignon Blanc, and I got to eat GLUTEN-FREE CROSTINI! (All caps, because, it is so rare to find so many delicious gluten-free options on the east coast. I just love Seattle & Denver’s multitude of gluten-free food, and this place was so yummy and inviting). Nicole made the checkout counter out of stacks of books (see image below), and the bar is papered with pages from books, so you can read snippets while you sip your wine. Even the menu has a literary theme. I would live here if I lived in Denver.

This is Laura Ayrey, doing her magic at BookBar:


Go support your local bookstore!

Since I went to Denver from Seattle, where I got to sew with Katie Pedersen and the Seattle guild-ers, and where I attended the massive AWP conference, I bought lots of books and fabric on this journey. I’m on spring break this week. Let the good times roll!

Hope this week finds you enjoying as much reading and sewing as I have ahead of me….Ahhh…

With Katie Pedersen in Seattle


Today, I got to meet and sew with Katie Pedersen, whose two gorgeous quilts are featured in the book and who has been SO good to me through this process!, AND so many of the Seattle guild members came to say hi to me and to sew with Katie. It was really super nice of people to trek out in the down-pouring rain. Thanks to you all – Kristen, Carrie, Becca, Sue, Martha, Michelle, and my old friend Meaghan Quinlan!!, to name just a few – for coming by.

We were at this beautiful shop:



It was so much fun to sew in the cozy space of Drygood Designs. There’s a front room full of gorgeous fabric (I discovered a penchant for Naomi Ito’s designs in double gauze – oh so soft and pretty). Keli was an incredible host and even had sweet cake and mimosas – heavenly!

And I got to start a new project with some inspiration from Katie. I’m making some basic log cabins from
strips against a white flannel background. Mmmmm yum.

Here are some more shop shots and Katie’s Seattle Star, also in the book.




And here’s one parting shot of a gorgeous quilt that Sandie Holtman shared at the end of the visit. I’m in awe of this one, too.


Thank you, Katie, Keli, and Seattle quilters who were there today! I had such a blast with you all. Xoxox