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Helen Kelley Patchworks

Quiltmaker, Teacher, Lecturer, Designer, Author, Judge

This is Not Chaos!

May, 2005 – I am organizing fabric from my stash for a Crazy quilt. There is fabric all over the floor and on chairs and tables. My daughter came into my workroom and commented, “Mom, this is chaos.”

I beg to differ. My workroom is not in Chaos. It is in Controlled Disorder. Dante said that the gates of hell are marked, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Chaos has that element of hopelessness. But, I know what and where everything is, and MORE importantly, I have hope.

A Quilter’s Eye


April, 2005 – Fine quilters have an “eye” for combining separate (and sometimes unlikely) colors and patterns into a grand image. It is all about building pictures with pictures.

I came across a web site where the flower pictures look like lovely quilts in rainbow colors. Tama, the photographer, describes herself as a Japanese homemaker. But, I think her flower-quilt photos show she is an artist with a quilter’s “eye”. Click on this picture for a better view.  Click here to see more of Tama’s rainbow of picture-quilts. They inspire me.

New Machinery

April, 2005 – My new computer is in place, but with all the same kinks in its operation that I found when I began learning to use my shiny new sewing machine. Then, it was learning how to use the knee lift and how to unsnarl the threads when I forgot to clean the feed dogs. Now, I find myself accosted with smiling paper clips and a flashing screen that tells me what I have done wrong “this time.”

Things My Mother Told Me


April, 2005 – She told me to wear clean underwear and eat my spinach. She did not tell me to eat cheese crackers while I stitch. But she would have approved.

She told me to make my bed and be neat, which translates to hiding my knots and making my seams come together evenly.

She told me to appreciate every day, and I do.

Quiet Givers

I suspect that quilters are “quiet givers”. I have met you before and know that you modestly prefer to share your warmth and gifts anonymously. But I need to know about you so that I can share you with all those hard-working Project Linus volunteers I will meet with in June. Please write!

You can learn more about Project Linus here.

Project Linus

March, 2005 – Project Linus is that organization of dedicated volunteers who make, collect and provide quilts and blankets to children in trauma across the United States. In June, I’m going to celebrate their 10th anniversary with the all of the coordinators of this amazing effort. Have you made a quilt? Knitted an afghan? Given a coverlet? Or do you know a child who has been comforted? Please tell me about it so that I may share your stories.

Daily Math

I have a math problem. I can add, subtract, multiply and divide, but I can’t seem to apply it all to real life. One of you great quilters sent me a patchwork bear pattern for my Wednesday Needleworkers to make for charity. "No problem." I said. "I’ll make 20 12"x18" pieced blocks and you can assemble the bears." One panel equals one full, hard day’s work. Doesn’t sound so bad. But, 20 bears equals 20 days with no time off for good behavior. That’s a total of one month with doctor’s appointments and an occasional evening with my husband sandwiched in. I need a course in hours/days/weeks.

Cleaning House

Washing my kitchen floor is very satisfying. I do it so seldom that the change is radical. The same thing goes for sorting through my quilt books. The trivial goes out and I discover dusty treasures mashed together on the shelves.

Capturing the Essence

J0336520 March, 2005 – I’ve been busy photographing quilts. It’s hard work, not the stooping and bending and pinning and lifting and squinting. The hard work is trying to breath the third dimension of quilting into the two-dimensional picture. Quilting is all about depth and shadow and glow.

Take Time


This month, my column in Quilter’s Newsletter talks about taking time during your busy days to replenish your soul. Winter is over and the time of the singing of birds has come! What loveliness! Such beautiful things are what your best ideas are made of.

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