Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hello, my name is...

Can you believe that the summer months are upon us already?  Our kids are so excited to be out of school… today is the last day, and it’s only a half day.  I see many summer camps, video gaming, movie and TV watching, and playing with family and friends in the near future.

We want you all to know that we read your comments, and we do hear you!  We set up our own contributor accounts, so that we’ll be posting as one or the other of us, instead of as Mom.  And, we LOVE the idea of giving an introduction to everyone about ourselves and our particular interests in quilting.  Here goes…

I’m Jenny Arkinson, the older sister, and former (I hope) pain in the rear end sister.  I work at NASA, just like Mom, except that I remained working in the Office of Procurement, which I absolutely love!  I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Mark, for just over 11 years now, and we have an almost 10-year-old son, Jack.  He turns 10 later this month.  I enjoy reading fiction novels, spending time with family and friends, playing video games, and, of course, quilting.

As for quilting itself, and the memories that go along with it… my first memory of Mom quilting is of a biblical quilt that she appliqued when I was probably around my son’s age.  The thing is HUGE!  I mean, larger than a king size quilt!  I remember her laying it all out on our library floor as she was putting it together, and then seeing it hang in our back stairway for most of the years that we lived in that house.  It starts at the bottom of the quilt with Adam and Eve, and moves up along the quilt through some of the more popular Bible stories. 

The very first quilt I ever made was a single square for a crazy quilt.  That was the beginning.  I have no idea where that block is today… probably torn apart or thrown away during some clean-out phase of the house.  The next quilt I made, with close instruction and supervision by Mom, wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s.  It was a paper pieced Geese in the Cabin quilt done in pastel floral prints.  It was a queen size quilt, which was pretty big for my first endeavor.  The next project was a Judy Niemeyer Christmas tree skirt, which I still use today.  Next, although quite a few years later, followed a French Braid done in civil war reds and blues, which was on my bed until about a month ago!  And that brings us to recent years, where I’ve completed around ten quilts now.  It’s not a lot, but I’m pretty proud of the work that I’ve done! 

This is Mary Garman-Duarte now, and I am a couple years younger than Jenny. I am a dermatologist and my husband and I also live in Friendswood, Texas, though we love spending time at our ranch near Columbus, Texas. Our kids, ages 8, 10, and 12, enjoy keeping us crazy and happy. Our girls play lacrosse, and we LOVE cheering them on and supporting growth of the sport in Texas. Our son mostly loves his iPad and playing with his friends and cousin Jack, though he has dabbled in many sports. Our middle daughter, Daisy, made several quilts with her GG (Grandma Garman) and owns more sewing machines than me thanks to GG.

While Mom may have learned to quilt as a child from her grandmother, I don't remember her quilting until I was in middle school when she made the biblical quilt that Jenny referred to. I remember helping her color in the pattern before she started sewing and watching a bolt of shimmery gold fabric turn into beautiful accents in the sun, stars, angel’s halo, border trim, and more.

My first memories of her sewing were actually of her making clothes for Jenny and me. My favorite outfit was a floor length yellow dress that had tiny white raised dots and a white ribbon belt. To me, it was a formal gown. We did not go out to eat much, as our parents tended to be quite frugal. But for special occasions, we went to Steak 'N Ale by Baybrook Mall, which was arguably the best restaurant in Clear Lake City around 1980. I remember feeling so special in my gown, and they would let us order whatever we wanted. I always asked for king crab legs with the salad bar. I would normally never eat salad at that age (5-7 years old), but everything seemed so cold and fresh, and even the plate was chilled. I loved excavating the crab meat from the shells with the tiny little fork and dunking it the candle-warmed butter. And it would not have been the same experience if I had not been in that hand-made dress! Jenny had a matching one of course that she would also wear, so I am sure we looked pretty cute.

I made my first and only quilt about 9 years ago. It is an appliqué Hawaiian pattern. I was inspired after a trip to Kauai that I earned for being Chief Resident for my dermatology training program in 2006. I guess I would consider myself a true quilter, as it still does not have a back or binding but is otherwise complete! I hope to make a Victorian crazy quilt some day with Jenny's help, and Mom had given me several satin fabrics, embroidery thread, and books to get started.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to follow our blog.  Many have asked about Mom’s Blue Heaven quilt, and whether the pattern will be available.  The answer is YES!  We’re putting the finishing touches on the pattern now and will send it to a fabulous quilter to test over the coming months.  Then, you’ll see on the website!  We’ve got other ideas swirling around, so keep on reading, and, as always, keep on quilting.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

We're Baaaaack!

Our apologies for missing a post in March!  Time just got away from us, and we didn't get a chance to make a post.  However, we're back at it, and have some great photos to share this month!

The last few days, our local guild, Lakeview Quilters Guild, had it's annual spring retreat in Galveston, Texas.  We were lucky to have absolutely beautiful weather for the most part, to go along with the fabulous comradery and sharing of works of art between all of the women.  It was quite an inspiring time!

Now, to share some of the fabulous work that we were able to see during the retreat...

Becky Stephenson finished the top on a square-in-square quilt that she made as part of an exchange with some other women in the guild.  She ended up enlarging hers so that it would be rectangular, instead of square, and had to make several hundred more of the small blocks.  I think it turned out just gorgeous.

Patty Dillon was working on the same quilt in a smaller version, although not as part of the exchange.  She finished it and got it quilted and bound at the retreat.  I love the curves of the quilting, matched with the geometry of the blocks.

Patty was also working on the Sleeping Beauty pattern by Sue Garman, from the kit that is filled with Christmas fabrics.  So many points on those spines!

Several women were working on a block-of-the-month quilt called Sangria, and were at various stages of completion.  Jan DeAlmedia, Jean Whittle, and Nancy Fervada created the works in the photos above.  I really like how bold the batik fabrics make the blocks look, and how nicely framed the center block is with that black fabric.

Mary Jo Thompson was busy at work on several projects.  She was putting together some blocks of sawtooth stars and carpenter's wheels, both of which I think are beautiful blocks, and aren't overly difficult to make.  She also finished two tops for these super cute airplane quilts for her grandchildren.  So cute and colorful!

The color in these two applique quilts really caught my attention.  They're so bright and colorful!  Katy Farmer did a really nice job picking colors and patterns that work well together.

This simple owl quilt is so cute!  Rhonda Stockton finished the top at the retreat.  She even had an owl trash can that she brought with her!

Lecia Majewski worked on a Swoon quilt pattern.  You can see in the photo where she was auditioning a turquoise fabric for the sashing.  I think it's the perfect choice of color!

For all you Trekkies out there, Ann Miley found a Star Trek fabric and put together a top for a quilt she is making for a friend.  So cute!

Not everyone works on quilts alone.  Connie Brose finished a nice bag, and also finished a churn dash block quilt, using blocks that she'd gotten in an exchange from 2006.  Way to finish that UFO!

Another non-quilt project is this diaper bag that Becky McNabb was working on for a friend.  It's very cute, but I think I'll stick to quilts myself!

Jana Albritton finished this top of a t-shirt quilt that she is making for a friend's daughter.  The t-shirts are all stabilized to make them easier to work with, which also makes the quilt pretty heavy.  I think she'll love it!

Talk about bright and beautiful!  Cindy Gravely put together this quilt top using Kaffe Fassett fabrics that she got in an exchange.  I love the geometry and brightness of the finished product.

Carolyn Hooks finished a top for a nurse friend, using a Loralie Designs panel fabric.  The sayings on some of the blocks made me giggle!

Vicki Stipe had several projects going that I got to see.  The top photo is a pattern by an Australian designer, in which she has used some really unique colors and patterns that work really well together.  It makes me think of candy lollipops!  The second picture is a lone star block that she finished, with several more to go.  The last photos are of a hand pieced hexagon quilt that she is putting together.  Instead of English paper piecing, Vicki used stamps to see where to cut and sew each piece.  So clever!

Kris Bryson got all of the pieces cut out and basted to work on this beautiful applique quilt.  I really like the soft colors in the blocks.  And, as big as it was on the wall, she had shrunk the pattern down to 3/4 of its original size.  Wow!

Being from Texas, I always fall in love with boot quilts.  Bobbi Anastasio had all of these up on the wall to play around with.  Notice how they are all in pairs (the fabric for the foot and neck of the boot are reversed in the next block), and how two of the boots are reversed in direction.  These will make a really fun quilt when it's complete!

Sharon Meyer continued work on the medallion quilt above (which I think Mom has posted on this blog previously).  She was working hard at putting together more of the log cabin style triangles to put on the next border.  So gorgeous!

Last, but not least, Marsha Fuller brought this finished reversible quilt to share with everyone.  It has circles on one side and squares on the other, and is completely reversible!  She said that the quilt is quilted as you go, and doesn't have any batting, so it's a nice lightweight quilt that will do well in our hot Texas weather.  I'll definitely have to get more details from her on the technique she used to make this beauty!

We hope you enjoyed all of these beautiful inspirations from our guild.  And, I hope the coming month brings lots of beautiful sunshine, and maybe not so much April rains.  Happy quilting!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February is upon us already!  It's hard to believe how quickly times goes by, and it never seems like there's enough time to finish all of our quilted creations.  We have had a very busy month, and wanted to let everyone know that we plan to keep up the blog.  This month will be fairly short, but there are two important things that we wanted to share...

First, the pattern for Target Practice is now available on the website,  We have a couple more of Mom's patterns that we're working on completing as well, but this one she finished herself in late December.  It's got a million miles of applique for all of the zig-zags and circles, and how beautiful it turned out to be!

Second, in planning Mom's Celebration of Life, we knew that we wanted to hang at least a couple of her quilts for people to enjoy.  We turned to some of her close quilting friends for help, and WOW is all we could say.  They did a fabulous job of hanging almost thirty of her quilts around the reception area and on the stage of the theater.  I don't think we'd ever seen them all hung together like that, and it was really a spectacular view for everyone.  Please enjoy the photos...

We'll see you next month.  Until than, happy quilting!
~ Jenny Arkinson and Mary Garman