Many, many years ago, when I was living up in the Gold Country of California (in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mtns, where gold was first discovered) I went into the local stitchery store in Grass Valley. There on the floor beneath a table was a basket of the very first Caron Collection Watercolours threads. I was immediately drawn to them and fascinated by their variegated colors.
I asked the store owner if there were any patterns available that used this new thread and she said no, there weren't. But I was so intrigued that I bought a few skeins and went home with them.
As I fondled these luscious threads, I wondered what I could stitch that would really show off the colors of the hand-painted threads. Because I was into quilts at the time, I decided to use some very traditional quilt patterns to try out the threads. The very first one I stitched was a small (6.5" x 6.5") Miniature Lone Star design:
Followed closely by Miniature Bear Claw and Miniature Wild Geese:
I was starting to get addicted to this new thread, so I designed a little bit bigger quilts (8.5" x 8.5") using the same classic patterns. Here's my Lone Star:
By now, I was thoroughly fascinated by the way the colors were revealed as you stitched. And I realized that quilt patterns were the perfect medium to show off the colors of the hand-painted threads.
Well, one day the store owner asked if she could sell a few of my designs. After a while she ordered a few more.... Then a customer who bought one, stitched it up and took it down to a larger stitchery store in Sacramento (the beloved FUZZY PENGUIN) to get it framed. The owner there asked about the design and soon contacted me about providing HER store with designs. Which I was certainly happy to do.
A little bit later, I was asked to be a part of the FUZZY PENGUIN'S large booth at the old Cross Stitch Festivals that were then held in Sacramento. There I met lots of stitchers as interested in stitching as I was. What a revelation! And somewhere along the line, someone suggested I send my designs to Nordic Needle to see if they would be interested in carrying them... and the rest - as they say - is history!
This is my long and winding way of telling you that I've had a fond and special relationship those quilt block stars for a long, long time. And recently, it occured to me that those very first old designs (that people still order now and then) will always be classics, but maybe it would be fun to re-visit them and see what I could do to give them a little bit of an updating. After years of focusing on very traditional styles of quilt blocks, I think it's time to give them a more contemporary "art quilt" look.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT TIME.....