Portland Bridges Now

A while back a challenge was issued to base a modern quilt on one of Portland’s bridges (I chose the Hawthorne Bridge) and to use 1/2 yard of Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park line for Michael Miller fabrics. I’ve been biding my time to show the quilt till the big reveal had passed. (Past posts: bridge photos here and fabric here.)

I chose to make a functional quilt and chose throw size, so I wanted the quilt to stand alone. I thought about modern criteria and went for minimalist, asymmetrical, and lots of negative space. Of course I wanted something to reference the bridge. I stripped it down to one essential feature, the red weights that raise and lower it, and I added Xs to suggest structure.

Presenting “Weighty Reflections”:

finished quilt

Weighty Reflections, approximately 40 x 60

In the interim, I made another quilt derived from the Hawthorne Bridge photos. It doesn’t look like the bridge at all, and it seems to me that viewers need not know the bridge to understand the quilt.

How important is a quilt’s history?  Here, of course, it is relevant because I am talking design process as well as finished product. And for the exhibition, Portland Bridges Now, it matters to link it to the Hawthorne Bridge. However, once that is over, do I need to mention the Hawthorne Bridge when showing the quilt? When do you think telling the inspiration is necessary? And when does it become redundant?

Linking up with Finish it up Friday and LAFF.

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Decision Made

After pondering possibilities (here and here) I ended up liking three arrangements. One I didn’t have enough fabric for. And the final criterion for choosing between the last two? The easiest.

Double Z TopThe three that I liked divided the quilt top in half as this one does, extending my modernization of the block for Classic Meets Modern. The diamond shape suggested on Threadbias and the heart shape suggested here gave a more novel look. This one provided the traditional block for contrast as well as being easiest. Did it end up modern? Whether or not, it will keep someone’s lap cozy.

Now it goes into that black hole called “to be quilted.” I do have the quilting design planned. And I’ve cut the binding. I plan to bind it half and half, continuing the light and dark. Last time I tried that, even though I’d pinned carefully, the color change didn’t appear at the correct place. It’s turning the corners that throws the measurement off. So it is time to try again.



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Crow Intelligence

Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like HumansGifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John M. Marzluff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OK, so I started out interested in animal intelligence and had heard the author talk about the book a while back. I was primed to like it, and I did.

Of course I enjoyed the stories most. Crows and their relative corvids are fascinating as they solve problems, make tools, and recognize people. In fact, with mirror experiments, there is even the possibility of self recognition! ETA: One fascinating fact: Birds can sleep one brain hemisphere at a time. Helps on those long migration flights.

Woven among the stories is neuroscience in understandable terms. One could learn the detailed differences in fear and pleasure routes in the crow brain or one could get the generalities, as I did. The text was uncluttered by footnotes or numbers, but there were end notes referencing pages for the more serious researcher. There was a clear indication of what was known, what was hypothetical, and what needed more research. I especially appreciated sections where there were alternate theories presented and the data behind each.

The crow brain, while differently formed than the human functions similarly with “loops” of electrons that allow present to be compared to past and actions to be adjusted to the comparison. Another fascinating chapter on language showed the anatomy that allows crows (without lips and soft tongue) to form speech that sounds like humans. A story that accompanied that was about a crow that could call dogs so convincingly that there were several around it. Also interesting was the chapter on play, not only the descriptions of playfulness, but the explanation of the meaning of play to crow survival.

I”m thinking that studies of animal intelligence today function somewhat like Galileo’s earth-around-the-sun to displace human species self centeredness, a shift reinforced by the book’s conclusion.

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Filed under books, nature

Fabric Shopping with a Double Mission

Shopping started when a friend suggested we have lunch and visit fabric stores. I do much better when I have a purpose for shopping than when I merely drift through stores. The mission began when I read about American Made Brand Fabrics–grown and manufactured in the US. Currently they offer 50 solids. I checked the website to see which Portland shops carried them. We chose three to visit and added another shop near by. One shop had about ten, another 25, and the fabrics had not yet arrived at the third. We suggested that the fourth shop consider carrying them.

The second part of the mission: what project.

A while back I’d become fascinated with the Urban Chicken block (here). I decided I wanted to make a single size quilt for my bed. When I was queen bee, I asked my bee to make Urban Chicken blocks. (Here are some they sent) When I wrote that post I thought I needed 18. Not sure what I was thinking. Maybe a BIG border? This time I think I need 48–planning no border. That’s four graded shades times 37  blocks. (I have 11 from the Bee.)

Preparation for shopping.  I got out all my solids and started cutting sets of four 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 squares. (Yes, my sewing room is a mess.)


I’d thought to arrange them in fours (or threes with a missing fabric to search for), but that was taking too long, so I just started cutting everything.

I didn’t have time to finish cutting everything, so had to try to remember reds and yellows.

Fabric not cut I doubt that I’ll use all the very light fabrics. And I’d prefer to use more blue/green/purple, keeping red/yellow/orange for accents. We’ll see.

So here is what I bought today.

New fabrics

I am not a purist; they are not all American Made Brand.  If a saw a color I needed that was manufactured by another company, I bought it. I need more blues and purples; they were not plentiful.

Linking with

Molli Sparkles


Filed under quilting, shopping

Two New Double X Layouts

Besides asking for feedback here, I’ve bugged my friends when they visit, and I’ve gotten suggestions on Threadbias. In addition to comments about the layouts and background, I’ve gotten more layout ideas.

A variation on the 9-patch layout.


Whereas the first 9-patch kept each block divided in half, this one shows the traditional block four times with only one modernization in the center. One comment gave a nice shift to the 9-patch. Instead of saying it is too traditional for the modernization attempt, the suggestion was that it would modernize the 9-patch setting.

The other suggestion was to tumble them. That was closer to my original plan that I thought I had to give up when I messed up the size. But the suggestion had me playing with it again.

Tumbled layout

I ran out of room on my 52 x 52 design wall. It would continue with the dark background blocks, either in a line for the left side of the quilt, negative space on the right. Or it could go diagonal.

The background suggestions were to use light against the dark-background blocks and dark against the light. I’d been thinking purple and lavender; someone suggested green. I have two greens that work very well. If I did this layout, the divide in background would be an angle extending the bottom block line. I rather like it not being straight. But suddenly the shapes (which never did look like Z to me) look like flying bats. Uh oh. and I don’t have enough fabric for the larger quilt, though shopping is no big problem. But the bats . . .

Without a deadline, I can think and play some more. And listen to new suggestions. If you have any, please comment.


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Lan Su Chinese Garden in August

Lotus flowers provided the spectacle for this visit to the Chinese Garden.


As always I did the tour–each guide gives a different perspective. This one emphasized the importance of the lotus having all three stages of growth present at all times: bud, full bloom, and seed pod.

I have not been as faithful to monthly visits this year as before. It seems good to follow the changes of late summer to autumn. The green is so different from the green of spring. I see a hint of fall colors to come.

Land boat

Here is the whole patch of lotus flowers in front of the land boat. This time, instead of tourists like me on the ‘boat,” there is someone enjoying the tranquility.

Traditionally the classical Chinese scholar’s garden was a way to bring nature into the city. Everything exists in miniature. So the lake is not large enough for a moving boat. The stationary land boat is meant to give the feeling of boating as the scholar and his friends enjoy an evening of wine and poetry. So said our guide.

Garden setting

As well as bringing nature into the city, he garden is designed to feel larger than it is, only one city block. One way this is done is through twists and turns and small rooms arranged like a maze. Another is layering. Here city buildings are apparent more in the photo than in the experience of the garden.

These red flowers stood out because everything else was either green or pastel.


Flowers reflected in lake


Much of the wood and stone were sent from the sister city in China, and workmen came to install it, to maintain authenticity. Language is an interesting thing. Today’s guide mentioned that we tend to talk of planting a garden, whereas the Chinese talk of building one.


Filed under Portland OR

A Nudge To Think Christmas Quilting

Usually I don’t think Christmas till November, and then it is too late. And of course January is too early to think it for the next year. But this year is different. I won the weekly drawing from WIP Wednesday (button to right). How fun is that!

The FQ Bundle

Count ‘em. Ten fat quarters of Debbie Mum‘s Jolly Christmas line.  What a lovely squishy to receive! Thanks Jennifer Bosworth of Shabby Fabrics!

No, I don’t have a plan yet, but one thing is sure.

Santa print

I foresee some fussy cutting of Santas in my future.

Some beginning thoughts: Christmas placemats. Or a table topper. Or a tree skirt. The wheels are turning–stay tuned!

Seems a good day to link up with Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash. Click and enjoy other peoples’ plans and fantasies.

 ETA owner of Shabby Fabrics.



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