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Helen Kelley Patchworks

Quiltmaker, Teacher, Lecturer, Designer, Author, Judge

Making My Own Weather

August 26, 2007 – I have been seeing pictures of women in the Middle East in the gray and tan heat of rocks and sand.  I am so grateful.  What a blessing to be living in a place where I can turn on the furnace or the air conditioning and create my own weather.  My fabric is dry and pleasant, not damp or dry and dusty.  I can sew unencumbered by a muggy atmosphere or a gritty whirlwind or a dim light.  This is the best of all possible worlds.

All That’s Golden

sunflowers.jpgAugust 19, 2007 – Last spring the world was fresh and green with promise. But now in August, it is golden: golden sunshine, golden wild mustard, golden corn.  The gold will turn in a few weeks to the deep red of sumac and oak and maple leaves.There will be the riot of red chrysanthemums. And then there will be the quiet of winter setting in.  Every time the seasons turn, we have a new miracle.  Color is such a lovely gift.

Our State Fair is a Great State Fair

trey.jpgAugust 12, 2007 – It’s August and State Fair time.  Trey, my great grandson, reminded me that I have to get his quilt to the Fair for judging.  I’m as excited about it as he is.  The entire family will meet at the Creative Activities Building to see how the quilt looks hanging up. 

If I win a ribbon on it, I admit I will be thrilled.  If I don’t, I’ll be a good sport. But I will feel very sad for the judge who didn’t understand what a wonderful, prize-winning quilt it is.  I loved making it and. know that having Trey love it is the real blue-ribbon-best-most-important part of it all.

Delectable Mountains

mountains.jpg August 5, 2007 – Today I leave to go to teach at the John Campbell Folk School in the North Carolina mountains. I’ve been cutting fabric samples, printing patterns, and reviewing my notes in preparation. My bags are almost packed. I have much I want to share.

The very best part of of this trip will be the people I meet. Quilting people are always gracious, enthusiastic and talented. I will come home again with pithy problems to solve, new challenges to try, wonderful memories, and lasting friendships.

Thank You

August 1, 2007 – I’ve heard from so many of you about being chosen as the 2008 honoree for the Quilters’ Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana. ( http://www.quiltershalloffame.net/celebration.html ) I’ve known about it for quite a while. The secret has been so hard to keep.

This is all very exciting and humbling and somewhat amazing, to be included in a list of quilters I have admired for so long. I keep wondering if someone will suddenly realize they made a mistake… that their finger slipped on the list of names when they were making their decision. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to everyone who has been so supportive. Thank you.


p7163053-2.jpg July 29, 2007 – I took my quilt parts along with me for a week-long vacation beside the sea. Each day I sat at the edge of the surf and let the breakers wash over me as I watched the water move. The surf where I sat was aqua and green blue and warm. The water on my Indian quilt will be the cold waters of Lake Superior, and they must be deep blues and purples. Still, the waves move steadily in with feathered edges. Now, my job is to tell you about it with fabric.

Spit and Duct Tape

July22, 2007 – Everybody has their own special way of fixing things. When my mother brushed my hair, she would pat my cowlick in place and fix it with a little spit. Spit is good. I use crazy glue and duct tape to make almost anything stay put. They are good, too. The equivalent of duct tape in my quilting is embroidery and applique. Not fancy stuff; simple stuff. Just a touch of the needle here and there to fix that place where things don’t go together properly. Last week I cut an unintended hole in my newest quilt project. A bit of embroidery and applique did the trick to fix it.

Hooray for spit and duct tape.

Sometimes Enough is Enough

July 5, 2007 – I’ve been working for several weeks on the borders for this new quilt and I’ve only just begun on the design. My plans were elaborate and growing more so each day. The work seemed never-ending. Then, when I lay the border pieces out on the floor to look at them, I realize that it’s done. No more! If I add anything, it will be too much. It will be like a cake with too much frosting. I am satisfied…. for now.

Lost and Found

May 21, 2007 – I spent the afternoon trying to find an outdoor store on the east side of town. I drove for miles with no success. But fate, being what it is, led me to a fabric store. Driving in my befuddled state, I looked up and there it was. I needed chrome green fabric and blue fabric, and since that was much more important than sporting equipment, I stopped and gave the fabric store my money!

Two by Two

swans May 16, 2007 – My latest Great-Grandma Kelley quilt continues to grow in my mind. Noah’s great flood has become Gitchee-goomie. Noah has transformed into Hiawatha. I am finding traditional native American patterns for my border.

I have been collecting animal pictures, raccoons, deer, herons, bears. I’m hoping that I can hold to the original theme of animals two-by-two. Now that I have these elements, it’s time to start building my picture.

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