Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Baby Blanket and More of What I Got In Chicago

I finished the baby blanket. Yippee! Sewing it together wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Though I still think it could have been worked as one piece. The recipe called for fringe, but I don't care for fringe. I don't like how it frays and it just seems like something to drag on the floor and get all linty. Plus I think a baby would have a hard time resisting the temptation to pull the fringe out and eat it.

Instead, I added a double stitch around the edge and capped it off with a crab stitch. Far more elegant, don't you think? I hope the baby will be content cuddling with it.

You know how every time you go home, your mom gives you stuff to take with you? While I was in Chicago last week, my mom gave me a mystery bag of fabric. Apparently, she started collecting it thinking she would make a quilt. But she didn't know anything about quilting when she started collecting the fabric, and never learned to quilt. So she decided to give it to me. From the looks of it, most of the fabric has been hanging around since the early 1970's.

There's this pretty pink silk dress. Very 80's.

I'm pretty sure these are cotton. But they are very heavy. Like upholstery fabric. The funny thing is these patterns are back in style.

These are either satin or polyester. I'm leaning towards satin. I've heard that polyesters from the 70's were not very good quality. But these fabrics are in excellent condition.

I don't know what these are. I think the blue might be some kind of cotton or linen with a shiny finish. I think that washed out fabric is polyester. It looks like a piece of commercially produced baby quilt. There's batting and a backing and it is machine quilted.

I like these fabrics. I would never have bought them for myself - even if you could still find them. Now I have the opportunity to try something different. I think these fabrics will be especially good for book covers and bags. I'm thinking of experimenting with paints and embroidery on these too. Especially those solid cottons. So even though I didn't do any quilt related stuff on my trip to Chicago, I still managed to add to my stash. You gotta love moms.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Defy Gravity

A city girl trapped in the suburbs must occasionally escape to the big city, lest the perennially quiet nights drive her mad. So we packed up and drove back to that same old place, sweet home Chicago. And it was good to fall asleep to the sounds of cars and the occasional siren. Yes, it was cold. But my husband is not from Chicago and it is impossible for people like that to understand how truly cold it gets there. It is something a person has to experience for themselves. Despite the cold, it was good to be home for a few days.

On Wednesday my mom treated us to our first baby free night and we went to see Wicked. I'm a sucker for big, splashy musical. I think belting out a show stopping tune with the orchestra going and people dancing around you must be the most fun thing in the world to do. Especially if you get to fly around while it's all happening. Too bad I can't sing or dance. The show was great. I read the book a few years ago and it was interesting to see how it was interpreted for the stage. It got me thinking about the whole process of communicating ideas. When I read the book, I wouldn't have immediately picked it as the next big broadway hit. The book is actually pretty deep. It deals with issues of intellectual freedom, individual rights, perceptions of good and evil and abuse of power. The characters have intense and heavy conversations. And somehow, the writers managed to translate this all into twnty or so toe-tapping song and dance numbers. I was impressed with how they managed to maintain the essential themes of the story, while communicating them visually. iIt wasn't an exact translation of the book. But it was still effective.

So this what I'm trying to do with my work right? I read something, or hear something, or come to an understanding about something. And I try to communicate it with color and line and texture. Not a literal translation. But one in which you get the gist of the idea. And maybe by translating a key idea from one format to another, you've touched people on a different level. I know the song the main character sings as she takes her place as the Wicked Witch of the West hit me in a different place than the speech she gave in the book. I was moved in both instances - but music moves you in a different way than words on a page. Good lighting and flying help too.

If I go back and look at "Weeping May Spend the Night, But Joy Comes in the Morning" or "I Left My Thimble In El Segundo", I have to ask if I effectively used the language of this medium to communicate the ideas. And going forward, I have to try to remember that you don't always have to show people what you are thinking. Sometimes, it is better to make them feel it.

I also learned that I was pronouncing Elphaba's name wrong. It was Hermonie all over again. Also, I think I need to get my hands on a magic wand.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Elves Strike Again

I finished all of the panels for the baby blanket. Look at this. The end panels are longer than all of the other panels. I measured each panel as I made it to be sure they would all fit together. I even measured them against each other. I swear they were all the same length. And yet two panels still came out too long. Frankly, I think this is the work of elves. Not cute Orlando Bloom type elves. But those scrawny little ones with the pointy shoes. I think this is just a matter of unraveling the long panels until they are the same length as everything else. This would not have happened had the blanket been worked as one piece. I'm just saying.

So now I'm busy sewing the panels together. Between that and tending to a baby with a cold and a husband with cracked ribs, there hasn't been much time for any other type of sewing. The sewing is actually not as painful as I thought it would be. It is going together fairly quickly. And the yarn needle is a bajillion times bigger than the teeny tiny sharps I like to quilt with. So threading is easy and I'm not jabbing myself with the needle. And if I spot that elf, I'm going to drop my Encyclopedia of Crochet on it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Denial - Not Just for People Anymore

My car sends me emails to let me know how it's doing. I got an email today saying everything is A-OK.

Apparently, my car doesn't read my blog.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How Could You Not See Something That Blue?

Yesterday I was going to go hang out at my favorite local quilt store, Intown Quilters. Instead, I got an answer to the question, "What would happen if I was riding with my husband to his job and another car ran a red light and t-boned my Saturn?" I didn't really have a burning curiosity about this. But I got an answer anyway. And so it goes.
Actually, I think the accident was worse than the photo looks. Yes, that is the muffler under the tire. I love that Saturn. It did its job and took the brunt of the impact. And when we stopped spinning, the OnStar people called, just like in the commercial. While I was standing there looking at the tires which were at a 45 degree angle to the car, the policer officer asked if we could drive it away. He should have asked the other driver how they could not see that big rolling blueberry in the middle of the intersection.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. Stiff and sore, but otherwise ok. Well enough to take a quick look around Intown today. And by "quick", I mean slow and shuffling. I nabbed a big floral print from the 50% off table. It was calling to me singing, "embellish me." I actually killed the bolt which always gives me a thrill. "I'll take what's left", is one of my favorite things to say in the fabric store. And I got an Amy Butler purse pattern. They have some great new stuff in there and they were having a red tag sale. I'm sure I would have spent more if I wasn't feeling like I'd been hit by a speeding car. Proof that people who run red lights are bad for the economy. Let's just hope I'm back on my wheels in time for the shop hop in two weeks.

Friday, February 8, 2008

New Year's Resolution Quilts 1 & 2

I finished two bad luck quilts. The first one is called "If You Hand Someone Scissors, You Will Argue With Them Later". In my family, if someone needs a pair of scissors, you lay them on the table for them to pick up. It is bad luck to hand someone a pair of scissors. The background is foundation pieced. The scissors are needle turn applique. It is machine quilted. That bead in the middle of the scissors is actually a brad from the scrap book section. I punched a hole in the quilt and placed an eyelet there for the brad. This quilt is 100% from my stash. The big lesson I learned here is once you trim a quilt, you can't untrim it.

The second quilt is called, "Don't Spill the Salt". I think most people know that it is bad luck to spill salt. The background is hand pieced and the salt shaker is needle turn applique. The quilt is machine and hand quilted. And it is hand beaded. The big lesson I learned here is that you don't have to take things so literally. Actually, I think I may have known that. But I was reminded of that lesson in the quest for beads that look like salt. I had white beads that were too clear, or too big, or the wrong shape. I couldn't get them to work. I tried the pink beads just to see if they were the size I wanted, and really liked the effect. So I used them. There was no reason to use white beads. The only thing I bought for this quilt was the black thread for the salt shaker. The embroidery is too tiny for you to see how bad I am at french knots. I really like the back of this one. It has that whole "book of shadows" effect I was going for. Maybe I've seen one too many episodes of "Charmed".

On baby blanket front, I have 8 panels down and one to go. The only panel left is the center popcorn stitch panel. Yippee.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Buzz Buzz

I've been a busy bee this week. Working, running errands, cooking, doing the laundry, running around after my son. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it feels like it has been more hectic than usual. I think I'm longing for a change of scenery, so I'm rushing through the days. I'm feeling pulled again by my quilting. I know I promised that I would work in my sketch books on days I couldn't get to the quilting. I haven't been doing that because I've been crocheting. But I've got ideas buzzing around, and frankly, I would be better off if I got them down on paper. After all, I wouldn't just sit there and do nothing if the ideas were actual bees. Actually, I probably would. I don't make sudden moves around bees. But I would be way more attentive to them than I have been to my creative life these days.

I painted the tea dyed fabric for the back of the bad luck quilts. I was going for an old, wrinkled, rusty, patina stained look. Like beaten, leathery paper. And I'm pretty happy to say I achieved that. I dampened the cloth and then scrunched it. Then I took a cotton ball and pounced on light green and dark green textile paint. Then I used a wet makeup sponge to brush on copper Lumiere paint. I finished by dripping on green Lumiere paint and going over the drips with a cotton ball. I'm especially happy with how they look creased and wrinkled even though they are not. That's what I was hoping would happen when I wrinkled the fabric before painting. Every now and then, things work out the way you expected.

On the baby blanket front, I finally finished the bobble panel and I'm on to the yummy diamond panel. I love crocheting cables. It is one of the simple joys in my life. If you are keeping count, that is 5 panels down and 4 to go.