Monday, June 13, 2016

Oilcloth!

Over the past few years that I've been traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico, I've grown even fonder of oilcloth than I already was. Oilcloth in Mexico is very inexpensive and I'm always tempted to get tons, but I've learned it's quite heavy, so I restrain myself.
Oilcloth in the Benito Juarez market in Oaxaca

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kalona Quilt Show: A Visual Tour


April 28 was the opening of the annual quilt show in Kalona. It's a mix of old and new quilts, and the old ones are definitely the thing that turns my head.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rhubarb Dreams

I have lots of quilt-related photos to post...one of these days. But for today, I'm touting rhubarb.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sewing Extremes

For quite some time now, I've been making hexagons. I even taught a hexagon class at Home Ec. But I haven't done much else. This weekend, however, I did get a little sewing in, and I chose to sew two challenging substrates—one super stiff (oilcloth) and one loosely woven, with little body (gauze).

Students' hexagons

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Stitching Through

It's been a rough time in the McCray household, as we cope with unexpected losses. They feel like a sucker punch and we're trying to figure out how to exhale again and move forward, what context death provides for the rest of our lives, and how to support the loved ones of those lost. Bottom line, both Paul and I have been rather unproductive, with lots of aimless gazing and little concentration. TV has been something of a solace, but I'm not good at sitting and watching unless I've got something in my hands.

Friday, February 12, 2016

What's Pearl the Squirrel About, Anyway?

That's a question I ask myself frequently.

It started out as a way to document my life, both crafty and personal. It morphed into talking about my writing, mostly of the crafty nature. Then it turned into a way to do a little book publicity, too. The blog's readership has never been large, and at the end of a day of writing for publication I often decide I'd rather sew or knit than write some more. Hence, Pearl the Squirrel is neglected.

So, I'm going to try again. I'll include links to my writing, photos of my sewing and knitting, and news of an upcoming big project, when the time is right.



Saturday, December 12, 2015

Getting Back At It

I've neglected Pearl the Squirrel for so long that it's become kind of an ominous creature for me, lurking in the background, leaving me feeling bad. I decided it's time to revitalize this beast, but in a way that's much easier to cope with. I won't always have things I've made to share—it's been a long time since I've completed a quilt, for example—and so I've decided to share small things. They may be things I've sewn or knitted or they may simply be interesting textile tidbits. And that is what today's post is—I saw this in the November issue of House Beautiful and it combines two of my favorite things: textiles and words. Scroop. Who knew?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Podcast today!

Yes, it's been a long time since I've posted. It's not as though I haven't had anything to post, but somehow when I write all day for work, Pearl the Squirrel gets neglected. I'm planning to gear up again. I promise!
But for now, I hope you'll listen in this afternoon to Pat Sloan's podcast. I'll be on the other side of the interview chair, talking about Art Quilts of the Midwest. There's some exciting news that I'll be sharing on the podcast.

In addition, Pat will be speaking to quilter and designer Heather Jones and art quilter Sue Rasmussen. (A super-appropriate pairing, given that Heather's new book is Quilt Local and Sue creates art quilts from photos taken in her surroundings!)

Here's where you listen: http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/magazines-more/quilting-podcast. The show starts at 3 p.m. CT. Hope you can join us!


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Art Quilts of the Midwest is Launched!

I really will post soon about something other than Art Quilts of the Midwest. But last night Codi held a book launch party at Home Ec Workshop and it was so much fun for me. There were lots of friends, old (as in 20+ years old) and new (people I've met while working at Home Ec) and in between. There were several folks that I was especially touched to see, including a group of my former colleagues from my days at the University of Iowa. Several of us had made quilts for one another for significant life events (here, and herehere).

Here Codi and I look oddly formal (considering that I must have hugged her 27 times over the evening). But she gave me this bouquet of daffodils tulips and I wanted to include it in the picture. She put so much effort into the evening, and I was so grateful.
This was the only shot I got of Erick, and we didn't get one of Astrid (the book's foreword author) at all. She and I each said a few words about our involvement in the book, and Erick showed a portion of the film he's made about his work that included the pieces he has in the book.
The funny part was that the crowd was so much larger than anticipated and we realized we wouldn't fit into the workroom. So Codi, Astrid, and I delivered our remarks from Home Ec's kitchen, and Erick showed his film in shifts in the workshop. Our friends listened patiently and there were so many great comments about Erick's film.


Emily, in the black and white jacket, was one of the book's jurors

It was an evening that reminded me how much the Midwest has given me. Though I rant and rave every year about my dislike of the cold and the snow, the community that is Iowa City makes me so very happy. As Astrid said in her remarks, it's a place filled with people who are hidden gems doing surprising things, and having this group of artists, professors, shop owners, scientists, realtors, poets, graphic designers, knitters extraordinaire, biologists, etc. come out to support the book meant so very much.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Art Quilts of the Midwest: The First Copy Has Arrived!

Last week, just before leaving for QuiltCon, I got an email from the University of Iowa Press saying that one copy of my book was available for me to pick up. It was a Monday and I'd been back for two days from Minnesota and was leaving in a day for Austin. I was harried, so I didn't respond right away. I was also afraid. There's this kind of magic time in between when you write a book and make your edits and hand it all over to the designer and the Press. You can say "I've got a book coming out," and everyone is very encouraging and excited and it's easy, because it's all out of your hands. Though I've definitely been doing some marketing work, it really just an idea of a book because the physical object didn't yet exist.

But apparently it now it did. When I talked to my husband and told him it was there he said "If you don't get it, I will!" That would have been a little embarrassing, so off I went. It was kind of a quiet visit—I guess I thought everyone might come out and cheer or something—but it was nevertheless wonderful. I gave Karen, the production manager, a hug because she did so much work to make it so lovely and because it was so amazing to hold it in my hands I just had to hug someone.

Then I took it home and put it in a plastic bag and ran around frantically packing and watering plants and doing last minute errands. I really didn't look at it until I was on the plane. There was a lovely, satisfying moment when I pulled it out (and secretly hoped that my seat mate would ask me about it—no such luck) and paged though it and felt the "book-ness" of it. And for the next four days I carried it around, whipping out my book-in-a-baggie and whenever appropriate (and sometimes even when it wasn't appropriate, just because I couldn't help myself).

I'll share more about the book itself, but for now know that it will be available in the next week or so at Prairie Lights, if you're local or through your local bookstore (you can ask them to order it), on Amazon, and through the Press. I hope you'll take a look!