Monday, December 24, 2007

Murphy Strikes Again

I decided to make myself a cute skinny scarf and look what happened.

I ran out of yarn with two inches left to go.


I don't think I'm being overly dramatic when I say that this kind of thing happens to me all the time. It's pretty long so I think I will just fold the little dangly bit and tack it in place. Darn you Murphy and your cursed law.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In The City We Keep It Rocking

I finished the quilt, “I Let My Thimble in El Segundo.” This is the quilt that required no planning or design on my part. I did it to clear the cobwebs after working on a few big projects. It is inspired by the song, “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” by A Tribe Called Quest. I like to make quits that are inspired by food or music because they are both things that tap into sense memory. They both have the ability to stir up vivid memories and powerful emotions. And the benefit of using food as a subject is that things that come from nature are already complete in their design. An artichoke comes out of the ground with the perfect balance of line, texture and color. All you have to do is pay attention.

It is a little more challenging to translate music into a visual format. Especially when you are trying to not only communicate the piece of music, but the memory and feelings it evokes. So I was riding in the car one day when “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” came on and it took me back to college. It reminded me of the music I listened to back then, the dances I went to, and driving around the Bay Area. And it’s a better subject than say, “Baby Got Back” or “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. To get all of this across, I wanted the quilt to be bright, to vibrate ever so slightly, and to be just a little bit askew. To me, this is what it was like to dance to this music and to ride around Oakland and Berkeley with the radio on.

I pretty much accomplished what I set out to do. I think the blocks could have been a little more askew so that you know it’s supposed to look like that. I think it might look like I can’t sew straight. It doesn’t really matter. The quilt is going on the wall of my sewing studio to make me happy. To remind me of the smell of eucalyptus, the taste of good Chinese food, and a time when jumping up and down was a form of dance. And I feel like I can exhale. I pretty much finished what I started this year. And I have some cool ideas about what I’m going to work on next. I’m getting excited about next year’s New Year’s Resolution project. More on that next year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Don't Rain On My Parade

I finished the quilting on my "El Segundo" quilt today. I remarked to my husband that if I managed to get the binding on before the end of the year, I will have completed all of the projects I started this year. He then proceeded to say, "What about that quilt on the chair in the bedroom?"

Are you kidding me? First of all, I started that quilt two years ago. So it doesn't count towards my list of accomplishments for this year. As I've said before, my list - my logic. Second of all, who throws a UFO in a quilters face when they are bragging? That's a good way to get stuck with a pin mister. Don't talk about the size of my stash. Don't ask about all the magazines and books. And don't mention the UFO's. Seriously. That's like talking about fight club.

I was actually looking at said quilt today. It is a really big quilt and there is not that much quilting left to do. It's all hand quilted. And since the weather has cooled, it would be nice to have it spread over me while I work on it. I was in the process of quilting it when I got pregnant. I stopped working on it because I would get drowsy and fall asleep mid stitch. I couldn't do anything for long stretches of time back then. I pretty much slept through my first trimester. By the time I got back into quilting, I had other projects to work on. So I think I will go ahead and finish this one up after I put the binding on "El Segundo". In the meantime, I think we're going to have to rent "Fight Club" again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another One Down, One Left to Go

I finished the top for the "Weeping" quilt. It is quite traditional looking isn't it? I finally decided to send it out to be quilted. I thought for a minute that I might try tackling the quilting - but why stress myself when someone else could have more fun with it. I'm warming to the idea. I have to admit that I'm intrigued by the idea of someone else working on it. This is my interpretation of an idea. Now, someone else will add their interpretation to it. Sometimes, you benefit from giving up control and letting someone else take the lead. Sometimes.

As I suspected, I'm starting to feel the creative juices flow again. For one thing, the sun came out and the weather warmed up. And I only have one more quilt left to work on before my slate is clean. I know that there are actually five quilts on the WIP list. I'm only counting the "El Segundo" quilt because it is the only one left that I started this year. My list, my logic.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Gets Lost Using Mapquest Too (But Still Manages to Get There)

I had this fruit and vegetable quit top I made a few years ago when I worked for the National 5 A Day for Better Health Program. My thinking at the time was that I would hang it in my office. I made the top and never got around to quilting it. In the meantime, I moved on to work for a different program, and 5 A Day morphed into the Fruits and Veggies; More Matters campaign. So what to do with the quilt top? I didn't really want to quilt it. And once I got it quilted, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. It was too small to be a charity quilt and I was not interested in hanging on the wall. The problem was that the quilt was no longer speaking with my voice. It's a fine quilt. But if I was going to make this quilt today, it wouldn't look like this. 5 A Day has moved on and so have I.

I don't want UFO's hanging around my studio judging me. If they are not going to be finished, they are going to be repurposed. So I decided to make it into a binder cover. My husband tricked me into cleaning out my cooking magazines by saying that if I had fewer magazines, I could have more cookbooks. So I tore out the recipes I wanted and put them into page protectors. I always intended to cover the binder with fabric or a collage. I even bought the book, "Fast, Fun and Easy Book Cover Art" with the magazine project in mind. Halfway through basting the fruit and vegetable quilt top I thought, "I could use this for the binder cover".

When I was in elementary school, we used to get these exercises where you would start with a word, and then by following the directions, like "cross out all the vowels", and "replace the r's with a's", you would end up with a different word. I rocked the following directions exercise. Somewhere along the way - either in college or grad school - I lost the ability to follow directions. Maybe I stood too close to the speakers at the Palladium. Maybe that research design class burned out some synapses. I don't know. But I managed to bungle almost every step of making this thing. I drew the pattern wrong, I drew it on the wrong side of the interfacing, I didn't get how to put the sleeves on and just made it up, and I managed to break or bend 4 sewing machine needles. And yet, I got the thing together and had fun doing it. It is important to be able to follow directions. It is equally important to be able to improvise. And I think that it is a credit to Jake Finch that even if you don't follow her directions exactly, you can still complete the project.

There is still a nice hunk of the old quilt top left. I think I'm going use the rest to make an apron. Somehow, I've been infected with the apron making bug that seems to be going around. It would be cool to have an apron that matched my recipe file. By the way, I don't follow the directions on recipes either.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm Looking California but I'm Feeling Minnesota

I finished piecing the blocks for the "weeping" quilt. What the heck was I thinking? I will probably send this one out to be quilted. It is way too big for me to machine quilt, and I don't have the next 48 years to hand quilt it. Besides, I think those wide open spaces of purple are begging for lots of swirly quilting.

I feel like I've been doing chores lately instead of creative work. Doing the curved piecing felt like grunt work. Basting the "El Segundo" quilt really is grunt work. Have I added basting to the list of tasks for an apprentice? I actually thought I was going to finally quilt the fruit and vegetable quilt. But I was not feeling that quilt at all. It has been sitting around for 3 years waiting to be quilted. I finally figured out that I've outgrown it and it is time to let it go. So I'm going to turn it into book covers. But even that feels like a chore to be over and done with.

I'm thinking it's the weather. It's too cold and dark. That, and the stupid holiday commercials. I want to throw something at that guy searching for gift for his wife at Lowes. But I'm going to keep working. A little bit of light is getting through. And I'm pretty sure that if I cross these last few projects off my WIP list, my creative mojo will return.