Bonnie Hunter in Pittsburgh? Road trip!!!

July 31, 2010 at 8:30 am 1 comment

Me and Bonnie Hunter!

Me and Bonnie Hunter!

Another reason why it’s good to be part of a network of quilters:  while Diane was here, she mentioned that Bonnie Hunter was going to be the guest speaker at the Three Rivers Quilters meeting the following Tuesday.  I had first learned about Bonnie when she was profiled in Quiltmania magazine (funny to learn about an American quilter in a French magazine, but c’est la vie, I suppose) and then I was fortunate enough to hear her speak last summer in Indianapolis.  Since then, I’ve been a faithful reader of her blog, and have been (gradually!) instituting many of her stash management ideas into my own quilting.  I was all excited to see that she was on the faculty roster for Quilt Odyssey this year, but I was unable to register in time to get into any of her classes, which filled up in a blink of the digital eye.

This made me all the more excited that my schedule allowed for me to drive four hours to Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon in order to hear her speak.  I realized that this was a crazy impractical idea as soon as it flitted through my forebrain, so I called my mom and invited her to come along.  With a travel companion and therefore a tacit endorsement of the scheme by a usually cooler head than mine, we headed west.  Before the meeting we had time to stop at Quilters Depot in the Castle Shannon neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  A new shop, it is small and doesn’t have much inventory at this time, but they were having a nice little sale and they stock some very interesting notions.  I bought a magazine and a half yard of (surprise!) taupe fabric from Red Rooster, who has really distinguished themselves in recent years as a domestic producer of taupes.

We went to the church for the meeting, found Diane, and were pleasantly surprised to find that nearly half the room was guests!  The guild president had us each stand and introduce ourselves, giving our name, hometown, and what guild we belonged to, and it took quite a while to get through all those introductions.  (Other than the one member’s little granddaughter who was visiting from Florida, my mom had come the farthest.)  They obviously did a good job advertising, and having a draw like Bonnie Hunter certainly brought the quilters out on a hot night!  A couple of women had brought as show and tell quilts that they had made from Bonnie’s website and magazine patterns so that she could see them, and the guild members who had taken the daytime workshop, Jared Takes A Wife, showed off the blocks they’d made.

Although I’d heard a slightly different version of the same talk in Indianapolis last year, I was very happy to have the information reinforced.  Plus, since Bonnie’s second book, Adventures with Leaders and Enders, has come out since then, she showed several of the quilts from that book, which were not available last year.  I was also able to get a picture of this quilt, which is the main visual aid she uses for this talk, and which I hadn’t gotten a good shot of in Indianapolis:

The Fabric Food Chain

The Fabric Food Chain by Bonnie Hunter

She illustrates through this quilt (how cool is that?) the essence of her Scrap User’s System, which is that precut 1 1/2″, 2″, 2 1/2″, and 3 1/2″ strips, squares, and “bricks” can be combined into most of the basic units used in the most common sizes of patchwork blocks.  By cutting any scraps that measure between 1 1/2″ and 4 1/2″ into these usable units, rather than just pitching them into bags, boxes, and baskets (“all those B-words”), and then organizing them by size and separating light from dark, you can utilize your scraps and your stash, for which you paid $9/yard, when assembling your blocks, “rather than jumping in the car to go buy another jelly roll.”

Bonnie teaching

Between this concept and the Leaders and Enders idea, where you sew on and off of usable squares rather than a ratty scrap when piecing your other projects, thereby building new quilts “in between the lines” of the ones you’re already working on, my mom and I really experienced some quilting revelations.  I had bought Bonnie’s first book, “Scraps and Shirttails,” in Indianapolis, and my mom bought a copy for herself right there; I bought the “Leaders and Enders” book, and we both got them autographed.  It was absolutely worth coming so far to both meet again one of my major quilting influences, and to share with my mom, Diane, and a room full of other happy quilters, why I was so excited when I first heard Bonnie speak.

We weren’t going to drive home at 9:30 at night, so we spent the night in a motel (talking about quilts till we fell asleep!) then started the day with breakfast at the Hot Metal Diner:

Hot Metal Diner

The door says, "No Smoking, No Whining"

If Guy Fieri hasn’t been here, he needs to.  Huge portions of tasty food and a stimulating, fun environment.  From there we headed to Quilters Corner in Finleyville, which turned out to be one of the best quilt shops I’ve ever seen.  Amazing shop model quilts, a huge selection of fabrics, great purse patterns displayed with stitched models, and wonderful support from the staff.  Plus, they have a bed in the middle of the shop, which always makes me happy.  It’s a silly thing, and a smaller shop can’t spare the room, but I love getting to see a quilt displayed on a bed rather than on a wall.  If I hadn’t just heard Bonnie Hunter speak, I probably could have done some major damage, but I heard her voice in my head:

“You know what? Quilting is a multi-billion dollar enterprise….the fabric is NOT all of a sudden going to stop being printed and dry up! I have faith in the fabric manufacturers that they will keep printing fabrics…maybe different fabrics…so yes it’s important to have what you need to finish projects you’ve started…but you can’t buy ahead for every project you ever want to make in your life.” — Bonnie Hunter from her “Paralyzed by the Stash” essay

Thus I managed to escape with just a taupe (yeah, I know) remnant — 3 yards for $9.95! — and another magazine.  I have their business card, and I have a friend in Pittsburgh, so if I decide I absolutely have to have something I left behind, I have recourse.  We finished the day at the National Aviary, which despite being in the midst of some major renovations was absolutely wonderful.  (Steller’s Sea Eagles!  Hyacinth Macaws!  Rhinoceros Hornbill!)  Any quilter who needs inspiration on how amazing color combinations occur in nature could certainly do worse than a trip to the aviary.  Then home again, home again, bursting with renewed energy and motivation.  Definitely a worthwhile road trip!


Entry filed under: Fabric Shopping, Quilt Guild, Travel, UFOs. Tags: , .

Hooray for Home Retreats! Wonderful Things for Retreats

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