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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Home from Asilomar

I've decided that I just have to stop catching up on everyone else's blogworks and get busy and share my fabulous week at Asilomar which is near Pacific Grove, CA.

When my friends and I arrived on Saturday, it had been SNOWING, and the main road that I usually drive south from San Jose had been closed due to icing! I quickly jotted directions going a different way, and my friend Carolyn the navigator directed us south. Turns out that road was not the one we should have driven, either, but it was a beautiful drive, anyway! I kept grumbling that I could have driven HWY 17, because the road we were on had 15 mph switchback curves and we went through a mountain pass getting across to the ocean. About the time that I started seeing frost on the ferns, I realized that it really HAD snowed! Then we saw a 4' snowman still dressed in his fine cap and carrot nose standing at the end of a driveway. A little further on, two cars driving east had little snowmen sitting on the hoods of their cars, leaning against the windshield! What a riot!

The artists in residence in this session were from Oregon, and they are part of the Cover to Cover Book Club quilters. They were featured in Quilters Newsletter March 2005, and their work is just fascinating as well as beautiful! If you ever get a chance to see their work, you need to! Pat Busby also makes handbags, and I just couldn't resist getting one. Everything she does has a little bee on it, and she also signs them, so I figure I have a piece of art now. Here I am at the beach, with my prized possession!

I truly enjoyed my week with Gwen Marston. She is so laid back, and she shares so much of herself, it's pleasant to be around her. And of course, the laughs were great, too!

The first day, we talked about the history of string quilts, had a lot of show and share, and then we were off and running on anything we wanted to do. There were so many different ideas to choose from! If you have Gwen's book: Liberated String Piecing, you can look there for lots of ideas. Since I hadn't really decided what I wanted to do, I spun my wheels for a while, before I got off to a slow start. I decided that I probably would never ever do a spider web string quilt, and it is one of my favorites. I have an old wool one that is quite worn from my farmer grandmother, so I thought it might be fun to try a small version. I sewed a bunch of strada, prepared a template (gasp!) and off I went!

I decided at the last minute not to take my originally planned fabric project box. I got to thinking about all the hand dyed fabrics that were sort of special to me, so I thought it might be better to take fabrics I had already worked with. It just so happened that I already some fabric packed into a different box, originally planned for a Rochester MN trip. That made it easy, so I just took it instead without thinking twice about the fabric choices.

I'll start by sharing the picture of what I made in class. The little spider web is about 22" X 25", just out to the little black border. I had the piece of green fabric, and a wide border was suggested, but I'm not sure where I will go with this. I like it a lot, but it just doesn't have as much pizzazz as I would like to have. Maybe some itsey bitsey letters.......?

Gwen demonstrated a string pinwheel, but then went on to add an additional little twist. It isn't in the book, but I fell in love with it. First you make the strada. Then you cut squares with the strada folded over, right sides facing each other. You can make four 4.5" cuts for 8 squares this way. When you cut two sets of the 4.5" squares on the diagonal you get pinwheels. When you cut all four sets on the diagonal you end up with mirror images of the cuts. Then instead of using just four of them for pinwheels, you use all eight of them and make what Gwen calls Magic Blocks. I think they also might be a version of Hidden Wells, but I'm not sure. At any rate, I really like them a lot. I liked them better on point, so I added some liberated blocks in between - a liberated star and a liberated churn dash. I then set the pinwheels (square in a square) and used them as the in-between blocks too.

Gwen liked the spider webs, too! It's surprising to see that the same fabric was used in both of my projects, and how very different they look!

Even though the weather was raining and quite cool, it did clear enough to get a little beach walking in here and there. This is the three of us (Sharon, Carolyn and Ibby) just outside the Monterey Aquarium.

Blogger is not cooperating with uploading my pictures at the moment, so I'll stop for now. Next post will be other classmates work - every one is so different!


Lucy said...

OWOOW. you must have a great time with Gwen ! I am so "jealous" I love the spiderweb! It is definately a maverick :c)

Sarah said...

Glad you made it home safely and had so much fun! Thanks for sharing all the great pictures and for making the rest of us jealous!


Sandra said...

Sounds like you had a terrific time! I love the little spider web, but then I'm a bit partial to minis :-)

Tonya R said...

Wow, lucky you. Glad you got to have such a fun time with your friends. Fun spider web quilt too. Good to have you back.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I love the beach and especially beaches with personality (the rocks)...I am so envious.

It sounds like you had a great time. I have been to many sites who are having trouble uploading pictures, including myself. Can't wait to see the rest of your pictures.

Dawn said...

Oh my gosh your back! And the blocks/quilts look so great! I love that mish mash of blocks - ahven't had time to read it yet!!!! Can I have those blocks!!!! I want to make those crazy stars - were they hard?

I'll to read it tonight - I'm jsut on my way out to go home!

cher said...

FUN,FUN,FUN!!!! thanks for sharing so many photos and your great blocks. Sounds like it was just a total blast.

Hubby said...

Ah, what a week. My very own high fat diet, all the cable TV sports I want all day long, green beer with my Hibernian brothers on Friday and no curfew....
And I get to see all these great projects, too.
Whoops, excuse me, the basketball game is starting again.

Darcie said...

Thanks for sharing all of your photos, Sharon!!! You with cool is that! And you and your friends look so refreshed by the crashing ocean.

OOOH! What a happy get-away for you! Bet the *new you* had lots of energy!!!

Dawn said...

I still love your pinwheel blocks AND I love your spiderweb quilt - I like the border fabric with it!

Samantha said...

sounds like a wonderful time! your pieces look great!

Bonnie said...

What a wonderful time you had! I am SO jealous!!! You know I would love to take a class and meet Gwen in person some day.....SOME DAY I WILL!! I love your projects two..the little spiderweb is so cute. And I like the magic blocks too..I think they are similar to hidden wells, but this is much more oh so scrappy and fun :c)