Another summer, another black belt test (well, almost--the test itself wasn't until October), another batch of quilts. This year, Don tested for his first dan black belt in Myo Sim karate. He asked for quilts for his four principal karate instructors, one of whom also got a quilt last summer as a kendo instructor. I started these around July 1, and finished the last one on October 16. That was about as close as I wanted to cut it since the test was October 18.
The first quilt I started (though not the first one I finished) was"Books and Blocks." I did the front--the Blocks of the title--using a nifty technique for starting with 12 squares of fabric and ending up with 12 squares that each have nine different fabrics in them. You basically make one cut in the stack of fabrics, move the top piece from one pile to the bottom, then sew the two stacks together. Make another cut perpendicular to the first one, move two pieces from the top of one stack to the bottom, and sew the pieces together. Make another cut parallel to the first one, and move four pieces from the top of one stack to the bottom. Sew. Make a final cut, move seven pieces, and sew. Voila! It's a really quick way to make a real fun quilt top. And if you remember "Shooting Star" from last year, some of the fabrics are, indeed, the same. I planned "Books and Blocks" to use up some of the kanji fabric left over from "Shooting Star."
The Books part of the title came from the back of the quilt. The recipients were a married couple, both of whom are third dan black belts in karate. The husband works at the UVa library and supposedly has a personal book collection that rivals or even exceeds Don's. As a result, Don asked that I make the back of the quilt look like a bookcase. He also asked that the books be different sizes and that, as on our bookcases around the house, the larger books go on the bottom shelf. I had used book fabric in another quilt three years ago; fortunately, it hadn't gone out of print, so I was able to get it easily. For the shelves, I used a woody fabric. Because I had to quilt this one fairly quickly, the back has a couple of puckers that I'm not proud of, but it was leave them in or give the quilt late. I didn't have time to take out the quilting, repin the layers, and start over.
The other three quilts all follow the same theme as last year's "Another View of Mt. Fuji" in that all the fabrics on the front are Japanese, and the center panel is a Japanese scene. Two of these went to karate master instructors, and the third went to someone who tested for his master rank at the same time Don tested for his black belt. I showed Don various Japanese panels I could get, and he chose three for me to use.
"Cranes above the Water" went to a master instructor whose day job is superintendent of a school division near Richmond. The title of the quilt was inspired by the Beatles song "Uncle Albert" and its refrain of "hands across the water, hands across the sky." This particular karate master has an incredible music library and will occasionally have us move in karate or kendo stances to music. Giving the quilt a musical name just seemed to fit. The quilting in the borders simply echoes the outline of the picture panel. For the picture, I quilted in details on the waves, the sun, and the cranes. I also quilted in some curves in the blue around the picture.
Cranes also were the focus of the picture panel in "Cranes of a Feather," named because I see similarities in Don's personality and the personality of the master instructor to whom this quilt went. While Don admitted to liking this name, he also said he was a little afraid that the master getting this quilt might think it presumptuous to link them together. I told Don that if the master said something to that effect to refer him to me, since I chose the title. As with "Cranes above the Water," I quilted the borders to echo the picture panel and then quilted in a fair amount of detail on the picture itself.
The final quilt, "Clouded Dragon," put its recipient in a very select group of teachers (he's the fourth) for whom I have made two quilts. He received "Symmelaritries" last year, so "Clouded Dragon" was actually of the "and now for something totally different" variety. I quilted this one last, so I had the luxury of being a little more relaxed about how much time I could take. As a result, quilting in the detail was a bit more relaxing than on the others. Or maybe it was that the big dragon gave me more room in which to play around with the quilting details compared with the tiny cranes on the others. I don't know how well the detail will show up in the close-up, but I hope that at least some of it shows.
With these quilts presented, I'm busily sorting batik strips I cut years ago to make a graduation quilt for one of my heart children (these are the friends of my kids who have taken to calling me "mom" and whom I would gladly take in if the need ever arose). I also have another Japanese panel I might make into a quilted wall hanging for someone. So many projects (I didn't even touch on the knitting ones here), so little time, but then that's what keeps life interesting.