Quilt Journalist Tells All!                       
A Newsletter from Meg Cox                                  August,  2014

Start Your (sewing machine) Engines Now! 
         The 2015 contest theme for the nonprofit Quilt Alliance has been formally announced. Quilts are 16 inches by 16 inches. Due date is May 1.

         There are many good reasons for doing this: even if you don't win a top prize, like a fabulous Handi Quilter Sweet 16. You are helping a fine organization, expressing yourself, and making a quilt that will be permanently archived in the prestigious online Quilt Index.

         I love these Alliance contests because they stretch me: the only crazy quilt I have EVER made was for this purpose (someone in England bought it, and I hope they are happy). For this theme, I already have 5 different ideas, and I can't wait to see how my clever and accomplished sister and brother quilters meet this challenge.

       I hope you'll spread the word to your local quilt guild and if you have a blog, newsletter or other news outlet, I hope you'll feel free to lift this logo and share it widely.

       Go here for the full press release about the 2015 contest. 

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"This is the only e-newsletter that actually has news," says quilting icon Denyse Schmidt. 
Every month, this space is full of news and reviews, an insider's look at the quilt world prepared by a former Wall Street Journal reporter.  Readers learn what's new, cool and important -- ahead of the pack. 

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Some Tickets Left for Quilters Take Manhattan Events!!!!!

Yes, it is true that tickets for the September 20 all-day event at FIT with a keynote lecture by Amy Butler are long gone. The waiting list continues to grow. 

But, there are multiple ways you can still participate in this 3-day quilt party in NYC. 

Here are a few events that still have some tickets left:

****meet Mark Lipinski (above) at a diner for dinner, then go see the hilarious off-Broadway musical Avenue Q on Friday, September 19.

****take a workshop at the City Quilter with wonderful teachers. Jamie Fingal and Michele Muska have a few slots left, so move quickly. 

****come watch Mark Lipinski do a Quilters' S.O.S.- Save Our Stories oral history interview with the Lizzy B. Cre8tive gals at the City Quilter shop at 11 a.m. Sunday morning, September 21. There will be coffee and bagels. It's FREE -- but you must register.
****talk a hike with me to explore the history and beauty of Manhattan's elevated High Line Park, on Friday morning, September 19.

****come mingle and network with some of the top movers and shakers of the quilt world, from creative icons to CEOs. Just a few tickets left to the Saturday night loft party, Quilters Take Manhattan After Dark.

Can't make any of those work? You can still buy a Moda HOME ticket for just $25 (nonmembers pay $30). This gets you a link to videos of all the major speakers and the Quilt Match Manhattan smack down  (after the event), plus the exact same goody bag will be mailed to your house. While quantities last! 

Here is the link for details &  to buy tickets!

August Giveaway!!!
An AccuQuilt "Go" Fabric Cutter

Yep, this is the same machine that retails for nearly $350. Not the GO Baby, but the full-size machine. 

The winner will be chosen at random from e-mails received by midnight September 1. To enter, send an email to meg@megcox.com. (Only subscribers are eligible to win.) 

In addition to the GO, this month's winner will receive a selection of fabrics designed by Heather Ross, author of the memoir How to Catch a Frog.

The July winners of 6 months of free classes from Creative Bug were Deborah Hunter and Jan Durham. Don't forget: anyone who gets this newsletter can try out Creative Bug for 2 weeks FREE by following the directions in the two ads.

Dear Friends--                  
         Books!!! Everyone who knows me well knows that I'm a word hound, a book junkie. I love to read novels and devour beautifully written and produced books on topics close to my heart, especially quilts and quilting.
        So I'm surprised it took me this long to dedicate an issue of Quilt Journalist Tells All! to the topic of books. 
        This month, I'll introduce you to the authors of two books that have swept me away: one is a memoir, and the other an extravagant and unusual coffee table book. You'll also find a round-up of compelling Fall books to look for, as well as a short list of my favorite reads this summer. 
        Do you have a favorite quilting book? Post it on my Facebook page this week. 
        To end the summer, I've got an especially spectacular giveaway: a full-size AccuQuilt GO fabric cutter. Not the Baby GO, but the big one. Whoever wins the cutter will also get fabric from Heather Ross.
          Savor the end of summer, and enjoy this issue!

Heather Ross:
How to Catch a Frog

    Heather Ross is a Manhattan-based designer known by quilters for her dreamy fabrics. With names like Far Far Away, her collections are inspired by her sketches of fantasy creatures like unicorns and mermaids, and delicate images from the natural world, from swans to strawberries. If there is a little girl in your life, you have probably made a quilt for her with Heather Ross prints.

        But it turns out, there is a lot more to this popular designer, also known for her books Weekend Sewing and Heather Ross Prints.  Recently, she wrote an amazing memoir that explains why DIY isn't just a hobby for her, but a way of life that helped her survive childhood. Heather grew up on a wild mountain patch in Vermont, the daughter of back-to-the-earth types who were in way over their heads. In fact, her father soon fled, leaving her and her twin sister with a mother who always had cigarettes in the house, but not always much food.

          There is an urgency and a muscular beauty to the prose. The retelling of this unusual childhood story started on Heather's blog: she says she realized that most of the drawing and fabric design she did was inspired by her upbringing, so she decided to share some of that.  One of her readers that loved those tales was Melanie Falick, her editor, who suggested she write a series of stories about how she learned to do certain things. Like catching frogs, and making bonfires and teepees.
How to Catch a Frog is also a very honest coming-of-age tale, as Heather tries to navigate college, work and relationships after a childhood without any authority figures. In a way, the book that most strongly reminded me of this is the powerful memoir Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, and if you loved that book, this one will rock your world as well.

        "I started just writing about the things I know how to do and why," Heather said to me in an interview. "But my editor and I realized it was a story about how to build a family when you don't come from a traditional family. I had never lived in a home where people were excited about raising children."

To me, one of the real messages of the book is the power of risk, of truly testing oneself. I told Heather I was amazed she survived her childhood and she said, "If we never put ourselves in a dangerous or scary position, how do we gain real confidence?"

I am looking forward to watching what Heather Ross creates next, and how she leads her life as a crafter and mother. She'll be at QuiltCon in February and spring Quilt Market, promoting a new fabric line based on How to Catch a Frog, and her original drawings sprinkled through the book.

     To learn more, go to Heather's website here.
Why You Will Want to Hug 
Roderick Kiracofe's New Book

      If you swooned over the quilts of Gee's Bend, are a fan of Denyse Schmidt, or want to train yourself to relax and make more improvisational, personal quilts, you must get a copy of this brand new book.  

       Roderick Kirakofe is a curator, author, collector and taste-maker who has helped raise the profile of American quilts and quilting. He is the author of what many consider the Bible of American quilt history, The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort, 1750-1950. Published in 1993, it should be in the library of every quilter.

       Even before that, Rod Kirakofe created an annual publication called Quilt Digest in 1983 which showcased both vintage and contemporary works (mostly art quilts). That was a shocking juxtaposition at the time. 

       As a collector, Rod Kirakofe found himself drawn in recent years to what he calls "funky, soulful and quirky" quilts, with the idiosyncratic energy of outsider art. He says he likes quilts that "break the rules." He began building a collection of these humble, sometimes homely pieces, many bought on eBay. Some were bumpy, others unfinished, or showing obvious mistakes. A number were made out of polyester.

        Eventually, he felt compelled to create a book around this emerging collection and idea. "I always wanted to do a book that would continue the story of The American Quilt and show what happened after 1950." Plenty of collectors and writers have talked about the main components of the great quilt revival that started in 1970, especially the emergence of the art quilt movement. But Rod didn't want to plough that same ground. He was not so much intrigued by what quilters were making to try to get into major quilt shows, but what they were making for their own beds and souls. 

     In the end, Rod Kirakofe assembled a book about quilts that break the rules -- while also breaking a lot of the traditions of quilt books. This unusual book isn't just a narcissistic tribute to his own taste and collection: he has reached out to other collectors to broaden his reach. 

         As much as I loved his earlier book, this isn't a sort of Ken Burns-esque documentary-on-the page treatment. Like the quilts themselves, it is much more quirky and personal. Here are piles of gorgeous quilts you just want to dive into, but instead of a scholarly examination of influences and historical context, he gives us truly thoughtful essays by 10 different worthy authors. Amelia Peck, a textile curator at the Met Museum, ponders the questions she asks when confronted by an Anonymous quilt. There are essays by Kaffe Fassett, Denyse Schmidt and others. 

        Here is part of what Denyse Schmidt says: "These quilts feel authentic, simple, honest, unselfconscious and uncomplicated. To me, it is evidence of joy in the making with nothing to prove, of working easily and quickly, unencumbered by any need to get things 'right' or perfect..."

        That's why you will want to hug this book. Go here for a review at Publisher's Weekly.
Sneak Peek: 3 Hot Books for Fall

Colonial Williamsburg has a sumptuous quilt collection, and this coffee table book from Yale University Press is likely to appear on a lot of quilters' holiday wish lists. Also out this Fall is an inspiring book by fabric designer Carrie Bloomston, filled with "sparks" to start your creativity. And I am excited to see this project book from Michele Muska offering patterns for both traditional and modern versions of old favorites like Log Cabin and Double Wedding Ring. If these 3 are as fine as I expect -- once I get a chance to read them, I will let you know. Cick covers for more info.

3 Books That Rocked My Summer

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, the final novel in a trilogy about the love of a powerful vampire and a modern American witch. So fun, so beautifully put together by an historian whose time travel scenes feel real.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, a compulsively readable coming-of-age book that is by turns harrowing and comforting.  Art lovers will be especially smitten.

The Mistress's Daughter by A.M. Homes, whose birth mother tracks her down when she is 30. Homes writes this memoir like her hair's on fire and the story is full of stunning twists, but ultimately this turns into a powerful meditation on family and identity. 

If you are a reader who likes "good books by dead people," check out my blog post about book group traditions, and see my 10 forgotten classics you'll love. 
    Thanks for spending some of your valuable time with me. I hope you enjoyed this issue and that you will forward it to friends or share it on social media. 
See you back here in September.
     Quilt on!

Reach me at meg@megcox.com 

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