I LOVE talking about blocks, studying blocks, and playing with them in Photoshop... I am always on a quest for great blocks and trying to figure out what makes them so great ... So I started this companion blog that will be devoted to this quest. But also check out my regular blog at http://olderrose.blogspot.com

Monday, October 31, 2011

From my list of the "Best of the Best"

 "Crazy Quilting = Harmony... a pleasing arrangement of parts to their whole and to each other..."

I am a self-taught crazy quilter and worked for years in isolation using books, but a whole new world opened up when I found CQI and the internet... By far I was most dazzled and inspired by Jo Newsham from NZ and sadly she no longer does any CQ at all...

It was her seam work that was most extraordinary.  She never fell into a habit of using a variation of a limited number of stitches..  All of her seams  were unique and I especially loved the ones that incorporated  ribbon work as you see here.  This DYOB block was part of  Fab Fans RR. 

Do click on it to enlarge and study the detail.

Most everyone, and especially myself, used conventional fans but not Jo.. Hers were all very creative and not a machine-made lace fan motif to be seen.. 

Most noteable was the focal fan of this block... a paddle fan..   She could have used just a piece of lace with a handle but she took it a step further by putting a circle offset in a circle... much more interesting. Doing it white on the light center patch makes it stand out on the block while the darker work on the darker lower right patch recedes and makes a perfect balance

This was the other piece of Jo's I had in my collection of great blocks...  But first I must share that Jo is color blind. To compensate she most often stuck to a very limited color palette or a monochromatic selection of threads and fabrics.  These techniques defined her style and should be a great inspiration to anyone struggling with color theory. . You can see here she chose only lavender and soft green.. This limited palette gave her work a  simplicity that ensured all the parts of the needlework would complement each other.

My favorite on this block is the elaborate seam running diagonally up the block.  It is  a seam treatment but is much more as it creates the path that takes your eye around this block... It is so creative.  Look closely at it and don't overlook the little white needlewoven leaves. There is so much movement in this short section of thread, beads and buttons that it almost seems alive.

And of course her  ribbon embroidery work is second to none... Please take note also that there are very few "doodads" on Jo's work...it is all about needlework and superb needlework at that.

As I mentioned she doesn't do any CQ work anymore but much of her work is still archived on her blog under "round robins" label and you can also see what she is doing now...   I often think her tidbits of sage advice and wicked humor... I do miss her.


  1. Am enjoying your "best of the best" posts Gerry. Another wonderful learning opportunity. As always, thank you for sharing. Am off to visit Jo's blog - incredible stitching!

  2. So nice to see some of Jo's work again, Gerry! She is a wonderful needlewoman - wish she would take it up again!

  3. Thank you for sharing and discussing "best of the best" blocks. There is much to learn.

  4. Gerry,
    It brought tears to my eyes, when I read she is color blind. To any other person this could have been an excuse not to do needlework. What a shame it would have been for someone as creative and talented as this to let an excuse stand in their way. I am off to visit her blog and to tell her I am glad she stepped out of her comfort zone and created a masterpiece.
    I am enjoying these best of blocks so very much.
    Thank you,