Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI)

Today I received an email from Suzi, who purchased one of my patterns with the idea to make a little quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI).  If you haven't come across the AAQI in your travels around the web (or even if you have already!), I hope you'll take a few minutes now to explore their interesting and well-designed site, and consider supporting their work in whatever way you can, however small.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative was founded by internationally-known quilter Ami Simms, with the mission to raise awareness of and fund research for Alzheimer's Disease.  Since its beginnings in 2006, the AAQI has raised over $500,000. It is a registered non-profit charity, staffed entirely by volunteers.  Many quilters make and donate little quilts (they must be 9" x 12" or smaller)  for auction or sale, with all proceeds going towards Alzheimer's research.  There are many other ways to help (35 and counting) too!  Even if you don't have time to make a quilt or money to buy one (though it's a fantastic way to purchase an original art piece for a very modest amount), you can still contribute simply by spreading the word about AAQI through Twitter, Facebook, your local quilt guild, and telling your friends and family. 

Suzi used the Rosie's Rose block to make The Yellow Rose of Texas (8.5 x 8.5"), in tribute to her mother, Doris, who had Alzheimer's.  Suzi hand-dyed the cotton fabrics for the rose, and, if you click on the image, you can see her teeny-tiny hand quilting stitches.  The unusual red, white, and blue background adds so much to the Texas spirit of the quilt! 

Many thanks to Suzi for sharing her beautiful work, and giving me an opportunity to promote this very worthwhile organization.  You can read more about Suzi's quilt here (as I write, the quilt is still awaiting categorization for auction or sale, so the link may have changed by the time you read this -- I'll try to keep up with it).

Please feel free to use any Piece By Number pattern (whether purchased or freebie) to make a quilt for donation to AAQI, or any other charitable organization;  you don't need to contact me for explicit permission.  A mention of Piece By Number as design source is much appreciated, but not required.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New designs: Swiss Daisy and Edelweiss

Added a couple of new patterns to the shop last week, the first in admittedly quite some time.  (The day job is taking up way too much of my life lately...)  Swiss Daisy, left, grew from two quite different inspirations.  The first was a camera lens aperture:  the very delicate, overlapping metal leaves that can be adjusted to let in just the right amount of light for a photograph.

The second inspiration was Mary Ann Beattie's extremely clever paper piecing pattern of a sunshine (apparently no longer on the web), in which she cut through the foundation during the construction to allow all the sunshine's rays to be sewn with a single foundation unit.  This got me thinking about the possibilities of cutting the foundation to achieve certain designs, and I wondered if some variation of this idea could be used to create the camera aperture design.  A little drafting in EQ, some experimenting with fabric at the machine, and eureka!  A center octagon, framed by overlapping triangles, becomes possible to sew using a single foundation piece, with no applique.  How cool is that?

Having gotten this far, I decided to develop the design into an 8-petaled flower, rather like a daisy. I found that alternating blocks of light and dark daisies yields a fascinating reverse swirling effect, a near-tessellation of larger flowers.  These larger flowers evoked for me the elusive, delightfully irregular edelweiss blossoms, flowers I have only seen for real at local nurseries but never in the wild, despite my living in Switzerland for more than 13 years.  So I named the block "Swiss Daisy", because a cluster of these special daisies transform so easily into a meadow of edelweiss.  (Though truth be told, real daisies in Switzerland are no different than daisies in France, Germany, or Italy. :-)  )

But what if a quilter wants only one edelweiss blossom, for example, for a flower sampler quilt? This possibility led me to draft the Edelweiss block, with its darker green corner diamonds suggesting leaves. Sweet! The block is effective in many color schemes, with often a more geometric than floral feel depending on choice of color or fabric design.

I love how the one design led so naturally into the second one, yet both blocks stand on their own as distinct designs with different possibilities. They share some similarities in construction techniques, though Edelweiss can only be constructed in multiple units, whereas Swiss Daisy is a true single-unit foundation pattern (a multiple unit version is also given in the pattern).  (Note:  both patterns are for intermediate- to advanced-level paper piecers.  For more images of the blocks and quilt possibilities, see Swiss Daisy and Edelweiss.)