Friday, December 12, 2014

Introductions to Poets/Poetry

At an annual party yesterday hosted by one of our A.L.L. members, I had been asked to bring my "Marginalized Poets" quilt -- which I had taken to the last poetry class of the semester. Most of the poetry class were not invitees to this particular gathering. Many had not seen the quilt. As people became sated with the abundance of food and before desert and coffee a Shakespeare afficianado proclaimed a monologue from the Bard and then I explained the meaning of my quilt and asked a few women to read the poems I had given them a little earlier -- poems by women pictured on the quilt.  They rose to the occasion, reading very well -- and I think all especially enjoyed the poem with which they were not famliar, Lucille Clifton's "These Hips" -- read with appropriate gusto and pride by Marjorie who bears no obvious resemblence to Ms. Clifton but was woman enough to ptoject the pride in the poem.  I took the moderator's perogative and read two of Wislawa Szymborska's short poems -- introducing that wonderful Polish poet to this American audience.

Thus a highly literate audience who are not particularly poetry readers and most of whom are only familiar with Emily Dickenson and our favorite Cape Cod (sometimes) resident, Mary Oliver, had a chance to learn a little more about other women poems.  I was born with a serious didactic impulse, I always want to tell people about the things I've discovered.  Perhaps I was a missionary in a part life. I was most pleased when one guest said to me that he had never heard people reading serious poetry aloud before.  He liked it.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Time to enjoy quilting

This is the last week of my classes, taking and teaching, in the fall semester at The Academy for Lifelong Learning.   have virtually all of December and January in which to balance my time between writing and quilting. The thought makes me very happy. I have twos quilt started and a third ready to be quilted -- well almost, the top is done and the back which is pieced of a few fabrics that more or less compliment the front is done but I haven't sandwiched and pinned in the batting. That project will wait, probably quite a while. 

A kiddy quilt for Christmas will be the first one finished and possibly in the next week ... or not. But soon. Another one recently started, fascinates me.  It will be a throw with nine ten-inch patches and a fairly wide border. When that is essentially done I think I will want to make the design again in quite different colors -- these are dark as in the quilt I saw in a magazine. I am beginning to imagine it in colors that are more interesting. We'll see -- this is long term planning now. 

Of writing project there is no end.  Another couple of rejections for my big books means more queries to send out. And there are a couple of long short stories that are going to grow a bit longer yet and perhaps finally say what I want them to say. There are poems and flash fiction and short short stories to put into some kind of order and to submit. Often I wish I had a secretary. Ah, well ... two months will flash past and it's not as if I'll be a recluse during that time, already the calendar squares are filing up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Turkey day

One might compare the rather lean and mean looking threesome in the header with those watermelon shaped turkeys in the supermarket or in your oven. 

Like large parts of the US, Cape Cod has a growing population of wild turkeys.  This small group wandered across my lawn last spring just as the final snow was thawing.  Some people I know have had groups as large as 20 in their yards.  We are by no means rural, this lawn is bordered by West Main Street and a very busy artery called Pitcher's Way.  Lots of traffic.  I more often see groups of turkeys near areas that have large amounts of woods nearby. (I am often amazed and pleased that although Cape Cod is densely populated, it still has lots of areas thick with trees.)

I  never saw a wild turkey until I was in my 40s. Since then they have become populous enough that I am not surprised when I see them. I am a bit nervous driving on some roads in areas with houses on large tracts that have plenty of woods for the turkeys roost in. I've just written a humorous short story about someone who hit one on a road.  They are very much on my mind this time of year.
(Also on my mind is what the breeders have done with their domestic cousins with breasts so large (and meaty) they can hardly stand on their much shorter legs.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Work in Progress

Sometimes I see a quilt in a magazine that I just have to make right away.  This isn't one of those but I saw one of those yesterday while I was having a Starbuck's coffee and an orange-cranberry scone at Barnes & Noble. I have a sneaky habit of looking through quilt magazines I know I'm not going to buy  because, perchance, I might see something exciting.  I did. In a Quilt Mania magazine from France which I think costs $14.95 (maybe a dollar or two less but still too much). That quilt will surface on this blog in about three months.  And I'll say no more, there's a lot of sewing involved. But thanks to modern day methods it will look like there was a lot more sewing than will actually have to happen.

This quilt-- the current WIP on my design wall is almost all pieced, it'll take one morning to finish piecing.  I like it a lot, as a matter of fact. The snowball blocks are mixed in equal parts with nine patch blocks (each of which has a white central square).  I think this counts as a "modern" quilt because I'm using a traditional pair of blocks with a great deal of white and very bright "today" colors.

Feeling as I do about the quilt-to-be that's only an embryo in my brain  (and a quick sketch on a piece of paper) this quilt will be  pieced and then put aside while I work on the other.  Fair enough, I think.
But there's just one other thing: I have many small half-square triangles with white and the bright colors that will become a part of the border for this quilt.  I should sew them together and add them to the quilt before I lay it aside.  Ah, me ....  the imagination outruns the time available.

To complicate my sewing life -- which is habitually what I do -- I found a very fun panel with alphabet squares each of which is illustrated with a character from the Dr. Seuss stories.  I have lately been giving Dr. Seuss books to my great-grandchildren -- an underhanded way to wedge in "real" books and not the cartoon-y things they see on a screen -- no, they don't have TV either but they make much use of a computer.  So I want to turn those blocks into a nice puffy quilt that they can all play with as they desire.  It won't take a lot of time and I have plenty of bright fabric around to strip between the squares. So I'd like to get that done before Christmas.  I think I'll have some time the middle of December. Sigh!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Beautiful Thread Painting

From A Quilters Gathering in Manchester, NH two examples of wonderful thread painting by Jodi Scaltreto of Hillsboro, NH. The fox is called "El Zoro" and the cat is called "Fig". As you see Zoro was awarded a ribbon. I think both were delightful.

This show seemed smaller than in the past and had fewer venders. The attendance was scanty, I thought.  However many very craftsmanly, beautifully made quilts were on view.  Most were "contemporary traditional", the majority of the colors were bright, nearly all were heavily machine quilted -- some very elegantly and far too many too heavily, adding nothing to the over all concept of the quilt. 

There were a few that could be called "modern" quilts in the fairly minimalist vein but the two that come to mind were the same design suggesting to me that both quilters took the same workshop  and copied the workshop leader's design. This is seen frequently in this kind of quilt show. 

Besides the very busy long arm quilting, many designs were fussy, too much happening, too busy.  This is a pervasive problem whenever I look at winners from the big shows -- it's the style-de-jour. I like that the fox and the cat have fairly simple backgrounds and the quilting in the foreground of the cat is simply done on a home machine as is the background, nothing to distract from the focus. 

My quilt Marginalized Poets was the only piece that was a bit bewilderingly "arty". Some people read the explanation and "got it" many did not give it more than a glance. That's to be expected.  The theme was Poetry but there was very little nod toward poetry.  I expected quilts that were inspired by specific poems -- I expected at least a couple of quilts with diverging roads in the woods -- but there were none. The theme did not inspire.  Poetry is exciting only to a handful of people.  I'm glad I know a handful although of the many people I know who write "poetry" few have an interest in reading or hearing poetry read beyond their own exercise of expression.  Nothing wrong with expressing yourself in a form that looks on the page like poetry.  But ... well that's another subject.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Finished, fun to make quilt

This is a pattern from Karen Griska (Selvage Blog -- see sidebar here).  She calls it Ferris Wheel,  I think of it as Whirligig.  The cutting and sewing method couldn't be easier.  I had  a lot of scraps in darkish blue, green, red tones.   One cuts two inch wide strips, not necessary to taper them, that happens mostly by eye as they are sewn into squares. And then making four-square blocks in a somewhat random way provides the great variety.  At some points the randomness of it felt wrong. And at some points it felt delightfully free.  But catching a glimpse of it on the design wall as it was being sewn (when I walked past the sewing room doorway) always gave a sense of what fun it is to put together prints and colors that aren't fussily  planned.  Finally I think the two inch red border/binding made a disproporationate amount of difference in tying it together.

I'm more and more a scrap quitler and I love the serendipity of combinations and I love the analogy of disparate patterns and colors with the variety of  people I meet every day. Mine is not a homogenized, carefully planned world.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Jackie Kunkel at Bayberry Guild

Jackie Kunkel was the speaker who did a gorgeous trunk show at the Bayberry Guild's meeting yesterday She makes quilts -- apparently at the speed of light -- has a shop and is a busy speaker and teacher.  She's very much at ease talking about her quilts and her career. She showed probably 25 or 30 quilts, mostly full size, and several bed runners which is a fairly new thing in the quilt world -- strip quilts about a yard wide to lie at the bottom of the bed. They are bright and what I'd call contemporary -- a great many have been published either chosen by quilt magazines for covers or features or because she makes quilts for various fabric companies -- which, enviably, means she is given sets of fabrics before they are on the market -- fabrics that have been designed and printed to work together.  None of the angst many of us feel about what color will go with what color -- and frequent (for me at least) bad choices. That also means she has gorgeous fabrics for the backs of her quilts.

I will call these quilts "contemporary" because they are new, bright colors -- she has a personal preference for the whole pink family.  A couple quiltsa could be called "modern" because have designs that seem to float on a white background --with that fresh simplicity that the "modern" quilts have. She also makes and teaches the various star patterned designs of Judy Niemeyer.

Jackie also designs fabric and has her first book coming out next September. She makes patterns and  kits which are sold through her shop in Connecticut and online. She's a lady really in the peak years of her career and seems to being loving it.Here's a link to her website, shop and blog.