Candy Cane Lane: Quilts and More to Sweeten the Holidays
by Melinda Bula

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Melinda Bula, author of Cutting Garden Quilts, is known for her stunning floral creations.

With her new book Candy Cane Lane, she departs from the art quilt to create sweet, whimsical holiday designs that can be used in a multitude of ways in addition to making the cute, cute quilt on the cover of the book.

stockings.jpgLook at these adorable felt stockings!

whims-tree.jpgI love this whimsical ‘Who down in Whoville’ tree. It’s sitting on the candy cane table runner and you can see the snowflake pillows in the background. There are several more projects as well.

Melinda encourages quilters to use non-traditional colors to spark up their holiday designs, and as you can see she does it quite effectively.

The book includes basic information on fusible-web and needle-turn appliqué, as well as full-size pull-out templates for all of the appliqué patterns. Sweet!

Visit the author’s blog, Melinda’s Cutting Garden.

Only four months ’til Christmas!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Or, “Another Languishing Magazine Article for your Perusal.”

Cat Hair in the Studio
by Kay Mackenzie

They came as a package deal, 18 years ago when we lived in Ohio. Three little stray kittens, presumably littermates, who followed us home and never left.

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Then they were California kitties, growing old in the sunlight, lumping along and enjoying the climate.

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So I’ve a lot of experience living with a triple load of cat hair. Over the years I’ve tried different strategies for coping with the issue of cat hair vs. the quilt. Here are my best recommendations for a happy medium (or, as in Pixel’s case, large and round).

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Pixel and the Furminator.

    A. Keep the cats out of the sewing room. Yeah right. If you’re like me and have stuff stationed in front of the door so that it can’t ever close, go to Plans B, C, D, etc.

    B. Vacuum regularly. I had to say that. Now directly to Plans C, D, E, etc.

    C. Brush or comb the cats daily. This falls under the category of New Year’s Resolution. For the past eighteen years.

    D. Don’t throw your scraps into a box. This becomes a prime destination for cats, and when you’re going to a strip poker party and start rummaging for strips, you’ll be too embarrassed to throw them into the pot. Also, it’s a good way to sew a lot of cat hair into your scrap quilts.

    E. Do create the best place for a cat to be. Set up a special place for them under a sunny window, or the closest equivalent, so that when the cats do come into the studio, they head for their spot. This strategy keeps the cat hair concentrated in one place.

    F. Keep a box of Swiffers on hand at all times. That way, when the mood strikes you (or the sun strikes a cat hair-covered surface in brilliant illumination), you can readily wipe down whatever small areas are accessible amongst the quilting supplies.

    G. Buy industrial-sized lint roller refills by the dozen. Beware of non-refillable handles, and don’t fall for the rinseable lint rollers. What happens is, you get up a soupçon of cat hair, the roller is full, you rinse it, and… you’ve got a wet lint roller.

    H. Roller your quilts each and every time you take them out of the house. Even if they have been covered by a sheet the whole time. Cat hair finds a way. Fold them in quarters and roller each quarter, front and back. Pay special attention to the bindings. If you’re sending them to a show, do this compulsively several times, with your glasses on, in good light.

    I. If you’re taking a friend’s quilts to a show, make sure they are delivered to your house in a hermetically sealed plastic bag, and resist all temptation to take them out for a peek.

    J. If selling a quilt, provide a warning for those allergic to cats. Refer to the above truth, “cat hair finds a way.” Let’s just say, we don’t want to hear the words “quilt” and “anaphylactic shock” in the same sentence.

    K. Keep tweezers nearby. These are handy for removing individual cat hairs in mid-appliqué, either by hand or machine.

    L. When looking for dropped items, take advantage of the opportunity whilst down on your hand and knees to remove the cat-hair bunnies from around the legs of the sewing table. You’ll also find several seam rippers and half of your supply of pins.

    M. Hire a housekeeper! This heaven-sent person swoops in and removes a large percentage of the cat hair patina, as well as stray threads, fabric orts, and scraps of freezer paper.

Notice that nowhere does the advice appear to eighty-six the cats. My husband Dana once made up a little saying that goes something like this: “The next best thing to cats is quilts. The best thing next to quilts is cats.” Animals love comfort and texture. Make your cats (and dogs) their own quilt. Sew something together that’s quick and fun, and practice your machine quilting on it. I promise you they will consider it the most excellent of all quilts.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I recently received a beautiful flier from Arlene Lane of Quilted Comforts in Sandpoint, Idaho, featuring appliqué designs with an “ethnic peasant flair.”

Boy, does this appeal to me! I’ve always loved the look of tole painting, Pennsylvania Dutch, Scandinavian, and every look of that sort.

I asked Arlene to tell us a little more.

Arlene: My unique perspective on design comes from my Slovenian heritage. I have always been attracted to the folk art of many European cultures and this is reflected in my applique designs.

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Slovenian Splendor by Arlene Lane.

In Slovenian, as with other European cultures, the women would embroider their costumes with bright colored flowers and shapes. I transposed some of these shapes into appliqué and arranged them into a pleasant layout and designed the quilting to fit the quilt.

Here’s a tip: When designing an applique piece, I usually incorporate a good number of small shapes or filler shapes as I call them. These smaller shapes offer me an opportunity to add a splash of color where needed and also fill in gaps between larger shapes.

Kay: Thanks Arlene! There are many more beautiful patterns at the Quilted Comforts website. Enjoy.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

American Quilt Study Group brochureThe AQSG is a scholarly organization devoted to preserving quilt heritage.

Every year they have a big seminar, where quilt enthusiasts, historians, researchers, collectors, authors, folklorists, curators, dealers, and traditional and contemporary quilt artists get together for a few intense days of engagement with quilt history, social context, and design.

The seminar travels, and this year it’s going to be held in San Jose, just ‘over the hill’ from here. Several of my friends are members and there’s some big excitement that the seminar is coming to northern California. I volunteered to help out so I might get to be a fly on the wall.

The seminar takes place October 1-4. For more information and registration forms, go to the AQSG website and click on Seminar.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie