Emails from China…

This quilt is entitled Emails From China. It was designed for the 2009 Hoffman Challenge. (While it didn’t win anything, it DID get made!!!!)


The story (there is ALWAYS a story, isn’t there??) goes like this.

My daughter Arlie was off on the other side of the world in China. As I would get up each morning, she was settling in for the night over there.  Part of her nightly routine was to email everyone about her adventure du jour. Often, we would be passing emails back and forth at that time, checking in.

I went to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival down in Hampton, VA on Saturday morning, as I do each year right around my birthday. I had been reading Arlie’s messages, and generally thinking about her and her trip, while wandering around alone being awed by the fabulous art!

I saw the challenge fabric being sold in a booth. I decided to buy a piece and see if I couldn’t finish the challenge in time this year. (The last time I
attempted the Hoffman Challenge, I finished the quilt about 3 YEARS
after the deadline!)


(The Cherry Fabric was the challenge that year in this quilt, SUMMERTIME)

As I fondled my new fabric, walking around the show enjoying myself, I
glanced at it every once in a while. Suddenly, this brown and green and grey paisley started to take on the shape of fish. My mind started thinking about what I could do with fish. Then, Arlie came to mind.

And China. And Oriental fabric. Yes, the paisley were no longer inanimate, they became KOI fish. I started searching the booths for oriental fabrics that complemented this fabric, that reinforced the koi idea.

And so, I came home with a handful of complimentary fabrics, got it all washed and then. Nothing. Else. Happened. (Well, nothing with that fabric. I actually came home from the show with a pattern and had the resulting pocketbook finished before I went to bed that night!)

I put it to the side, in the dreary February light, and promptly forgot about it. In June, I finally decided to look at it again. Still had no idea about patterns, or what other fabrics would work.

While digging through my prodigious stash, I discovered this incredibly perfect fabric with handwriting, in the EXACT odd shade of taupe I needed. The fish…they moved. The koi pond, it radiated.
Having NEVER attempted the curved piecing of a Drunkards Path, the
ever-growing collection of fabrics quickly gelled into a Drunkards Path Variation, no matter how I tried to talk myself out it.

And the writing on the fabric, suddenly represented the communicating that Arlie and I did ‘virtually’ each day while she was away. The idea of the writing substituting for the typing, the circuitry of computers echoed the ripples in a fish pond, moving information and communication.

The quilt, EMAILS FROM CHINA  was born!  Arlie brought me a Chop back
from China. It says, LOVE. I used that on the label. 
email from china, label-1
The quilt is 40×40, and quilted with outlines of koi over the surface extending beyond the shapes on the fabric. It is quilted with ENTHUSIASM but not necessarily skill, lol. But overall, I am very happy with it, am no longer afraid of curved piecing, and actually plan on making another in this same pattern, which is a first!

When it arrives home, I believe it will be hung in the bedroom….

((Please,  leave a comment!! I love to know what people think!))

6 thoughts on “Emails from China…

  1. This is the most beautiful story and quilting adventure ! I love the way you describe it and started this creative quilt. The Drunkard’s Patch has some very interesting variations, the circle is one I never tried. Bravo and thanks for sharing.


  2. Its nice to read something that you are so passionate about. It sounds the same to me as when I write about cars. You can feel how much of yourself you pour into each of these works of art. Well done, both by inspiration and execution, and your work will always be first place with me.


  3. I love your quilt, your story . Thank you for sharing your talent and life. I have a China connection as I was there in 2000, my son return a year and a half later at 15 and now at 23 is married to my “promised” Chinese daughter. Is your daughter still in china? I would love to know more about her adventure.

    Wonderful quilt,


  4. Nice job-I am in Las Vegas waiting to print mt boarding pass with lots of other people. All I can say is once you have see Vegas, once is enough. Every casino looks the same as the one before it. You put a lot of thought into your quilt and it is a showpiece. We did go to the canyon and the 14 hour bus trip turned into an 18 bus trip. We were the last ones off and the first ones on. How lucky is that? That is a far as our luck went!!! Talk to you soon. Love, Susan


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