Check out Open-Books...

I just discovered a wonderful bookstore here in town that’s practically in my own backyard.

Open Books, in the River North neighborhood (213 W Institute) is located right behind the Paper Source at Chicago and Franklin (which btw happens to be a convenient stop on the Brown line.) 

More than just a bookstore, Open Books is a nonprofit organization that combines a big time book donation program with a retail bookstore, e-commerce site and small army of volunteers who help support local literacy programs. 

They say that when books fall open, we fall into them.  And this is a great place to fall into, noodle around and indulge your reader’s wanderlust while supporting a really great idea. 

In fact I found a couple of wonderful reference books on color, complete with thousands of new and exciting color combinations that fabric junkies everywhere are sure to appreciate. 

The PANTONE Guide to Communicating with Color by color expert Leatrice Eiseman is filled with lots of color inspiration and factoids.  

Did you know that the human eye actually sees warm colors before cool colors? 

Or that in general warm colors advance while cool colors recede?  Of course the degree of saturation in colors makes a big difference.  Highly saturated colors appear closer than colors with lower saturation. 

Eiseman dedicates each chapter to a different hue and explains in simple psychological terms how we react to them. 

A Designer’s Guide to Color 3 is eye candy for quilters who love to work with color. In it author and fabric designer Jeanne Allen goes beyond basic color theory and simple color combinations to present more than 900 graphic examples of new and innovative color palettes.  

I think I might find myself thumbing through these books again on a cold winter’s night while dreaming of all the new and exciting quilts I plan to make…someday. 

Want to donate some of those old books clogging the shelves?  Drop off at Open-Books, then head inside and start collecting some more.  

Posted on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 04:50PM by Registered CommenterQuiltology | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Aloha quiltologists...

Cover quilt

Title:     Unknown (The design is a reflection of Kamakani Ka Ni Aloha, circa 1900 and Garden of Kauai, circa 1910.)

Quilter: Unknown (Made in Maui for a family who lived in Kalaupapa, Molokai.)

Date:     circa 1923/1925

Owner:  Leone Kamana Ojamura of Quilts Hawaii in Honolulu.

I just returned from a wonderful week in paradise!  People do some crazy things on vacation, like sipping one too many pina coladas, falling asleep poolside and burning their mainlander bums in the tropical sun.  Happily that didn’t happen this year.  Instead I fell into the Hawaiian quilt trance, overwhelmed by the desire to return home and make one of these applique beauties myself. 

The book Hawaiian Quilts Made Easy by Milly Singletary is a sweet little introduction to a long standing tradition of exquisite hand work and dedication.  It begins with every quilter’s mantra… 

“Just as the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step, so does the beginning of a magnificent quilt start with one stitch.” 

Legend has it that quilting was first introduced to Hawaiians by a group of missionary ladies who had sailed 18,000 miles in 163 days from Boston Harbor to Honolulu. 

From the diary of Lucy G Thurston, 1820... 

“Monday morning, April 3rd, the first sewing circle was formed that the sun ever looked down upon in this Hawaiian realm.  Kalakua, the queen dowager, was directress.  She requested all the seven white ladies to take seats with them on the mats, aboard the deck of the ship Thaddeus.” 

Although the missionary ladies shared their patchwork style of quilting with their Hawaiian hosts, that style never really caught on.  Instead Hawaiian quilters used the hand stitching techniques to create beautiful applique designs that reflected the spirit and soul of their local culture.  The Hawaiian quilt designs are usually named for what they represent—flowers like ginger lei, plumeria blossoms and lilies as well as trees like breadfruit and palms.  Other more complicated designs are named for the themes they represent like Garden Island or The Beauty of Maui. 

I bought a pattern called “Ho’owaiwai” which translates as “to bring prosperity.” The design is the traditional ula breadfruit which radiates out from a center medallion into four quads.  It sort of reminds me of the old snowflake designs we would cut from a piece of folded paper when we were kids. 

Hawaiian quilts are usually a single solid color appliqued to a white background, so the old saying that the quilting makes the quilt, is especially true here.  I’m drawn to the yellow on white, just like the quilt George Clooney and his daughters curled up in at the end of The Descendants. 

Title:      Beauty of Hilo Bay

Quilter:  Unknown (Made in Hawaii)

Date:      circa 1930/1950

Owner:  From the collection of the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. 

Now I just have to find the time to begin that first stitch! 




Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 05:49PM by Registered CommenterQuiltology | CommentsPost a Comment

The Mighty Queens of Freeville...

Mother’s Day is Sunday and the shop will be closed so that we can all spend time with our families.  Enjoy the day!

If you’re one of those people who wait until the last minute to pick up a gift for the mom(s) in your life, I have an idea for you.  Quick—go to the closest bookstore and get a copy of my friend Amy Dickinson’s book The Mighty Queens of Freeville—just out in paperback!   

Amy writes the Ask Amy advice column for the Chicago Tribune and is a frequent guest on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  Her motto in life is “I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.” 

This book is a memoir that women can really relate to.  Its Amy’s personal journey through marriage, motherhood, divorce, single motherhood, bad dates, bad jobs and the trials and tribulations associated with overcoming her self described “dorkitude.”  Throughout it all, Amy is supported by the network of women in her life—the mighty queens of Freeville New York—a greek chorus of family and friends who offer up plenty of free advice, wit, wisdom and the occasional casserole. 

When life goes to pieces some of us sew it back together into patchwork.  My friend Amy writes it out into stories that are funny, touching and hopeful all rolled into one. In fact you might want to buy an extra copy for yourself!

(I mean it—go buy this book for your mom.  You don’t want to be one of those people standing in the check out line at Dominick’s on Sunday morning with an overpriced bouquet of wimpy wilted flowers, do you?)

Check out Amy online at

See you soon…ccc

Posted on Friday, May 7, 2010 at 11:38AM by Registered CommenterQuiltology | CommentsPost a Comment