Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good talk, not necessarily good-bye

[This is a smallish wall quilt I had forgotten I had but I like it. I discovered several I'd forgotten. Also, there's one I can't find that I saw only a couple weeks ago. It must be folded in with others but I haven't seen it in the whole packing period. More looking for it tomorrow.]
Meanwhile, I awake rather early each morning with a burst of energy and plans what will get packed I work hard until somewhere around noon and then kind of wear out. It's okay, things are moving along and there's really not much left to do. Plus a lot of straightening has happened and some disposing of extraneous stuff -- a lighter, cleaner, freer feeling. Good!

In the last two days I've had four different conversations with four very different friends. Good talk, good reading, good theatre or movies, those are the things that make me feel wonderful, get the brain spinning and the endorphines buzzing happily in the brain. I'm good with long periods of silence [or classical music] when I'm alone; that's a necessary offset to the other periods of stimulation -- although the alone periods are stimulating too if I'm writing or reading or doing other things that are very satisfying. So just now, I'm working hard, all is generally good -- with the exception of my recent hair cut. The less said the better on that score.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Still April, Still Poetry Month

It's still April, still Poetry Month and I'm still packing, sorting, and discovering quilts I had forgotten existed and some that are so embarrassing I don't know what to do with them. While I contemplate the fact that, yes, I have lived and learned, I am making nicer and better quilts these days, instead of more personal assessment which has been going on for weeks now, I'll take refuge in the felicity of a poem.

Here is Grace Paley's Here, which is much anthologized but always so warm it does good things to the blood pressure.

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
Well, that's who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that's my old man across the yard
he's talking to the meter reader
he's telling him the world's sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.

[With their tremendous technological wisdom, the good Blogger constructors -- not a poem amongst them] have set up the program so that the spacing in Paley's poem which I faithfully copied, with indented lines and places where there are extra spaces between words -- which makes the poem read different -- have be "corrected" so there is a flush left margin. GRRRR!]

[The quilt above has humming birds which were among my first attempts at paper piecing. I had forgotten it, but now have sent it to a two month old great-niece.]

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Quilt Gets a New Home

These are just some of the quilts I brought out for possible sale over the weekend. I also taped quite a few on the wall. I was a little surprised that the concept of quilts on the wall was foreign to most people. They thought only of something on the bed or a throw on the sofa. Quilts as "art" or at least decor was not an idea they could get their heads around. More education needs to be done.
I had an apartment sale on Saturday and Sunday. I spread out lots of my quilts, not all, but an overwhelming number. The truly rock bottom prices were still too much for most people who frequent such sales. However my "Cardinals in the Snow," a paper pieced log cabin variation with fused pictures of cardinals, did sell to the woman in the photo. I don't have her name, but I think the quilt will be well loved. I liked it a lot although it was a little to long fora single bed -- I had thought of using it as a wall hanging, especially round about Christmas time. But bye-bye, make someone else happy. A few others were sold but I didn't think to get a photo.

I did not expect to sell much but I wanted to get rid of books especially, as packing them up and taking them somewhere is a heavy, heavy chore in a city and book sellers are horribly picky. So I gave them away and was delighted to find many literate people in the building who were happy to take away big bags full or arm loads. While chatting about their interests and lives. The good talk was the best part of the weekend. I enjoyed it very much. Some people I've seen for years and years and never talked to before. A shame but as people say "that's New York." And it is. Which is one of the sadder things about living in great impersonal apartment buildings. Still, a very belated, brief aquaintance was very satisfying.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sewing Withdrawal Symptoms

I packed up my sewing machine, thread, needles, thimbles, scissors, etc. Already I'm going into mental withdrawal. I do have a little packet of 2x2 squares with one needle, one thimble, one spool of thread and a tiny scissors so I can do hand work if I get shaky. No, I don't think it's going to come to that. I'm going to do the apartment building version of a garage sale, from which I expect little response but no harm in trying. I'd love to lighten the burden of quilts -- find homes for a few more. Will put up announcements in elevators and laundry room with pix of quilts and reminders about mother's day being on the way.

Meanwhile the packing is moving along at a good clip. It's just the books -- so many, many books. Long ago when I last moved I had the same problem. Complaining to a friend, "They're good books, the price couldn't be lower" -- I was willing to give them away as I am now. Said she, "You've got to realize most people already have a book." In other words, got-ta realize I'm the nut case with my endless desire for books and all that is in them. Many of the big beautiful ones went to a good thrift store this week. That not only lightens the burden but makes me feel better. And my collection of the Quilting Arts magazines also went to a good home -- a real art quilter who showed me her latest creation which was very nice. Now I must change my subscription address. Without sewing there are still plenty of things to do!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Longer a UFO

So this very long time UFO is all together with a brown calico border that wasn't strictly necessary as the edges were finished on each of the squares, but I wanted it held together by something. Not brilliant or special but comfortingly traditional and simple. Satisfying.

No more time for sewing for a bit, a couple of weeks, I suppose. That's okay. There's another couple UFOs waiting in the wings and a whole host of ideas in my head. All in good time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stash Busting/Building

Is it bad luck to talk about using up your fabric stash? Or is it just plain nutty to contemplate even a status quo? Here's what happened today. I took a load of stuff to the thrift store. I always check the shop for unexpected finds -- could be anything! Today it was a basket of fabrics, quite unusual but not unheard of. Most were decorator fabrics but a few were quilt quality cottons. Here's what I got:

yellow small check gingham ...... 1-3/4 yd for $1
orange medium check gingham ..... 1-3/4 yd for $1
orange large check gingham ..... 1-3/4 yd for $1
springy green flower print ...... 1-1/4 yd for $2
large bright flower print ....... 1-1/2 yd for $3

Total: 8 yards fabric of $8 -- WAIT! It was senior citizen day. I got a discount.
Grand total: 8 yards for $6.50

How could I not buy it? I loved the prints, and I like to use ginghams for the backing of baby quilts. Stash -- it just grew by eight yards and no apologies offered.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stash assessment

As I prepare to move I look at my fabric stash and do not even consider paring down. However I have been reading a blog of a quilter I found in the favorites list of Down The Well, which I high recommend. This quilter is part of a ring of bloggers whose aim is to use their stash and not purchase more -- or only purchase when something totally irresistible is at hand. I think I will take on that philosophy and attempt to do the same once I am settled again ... actually, I ALWAYS, think that's what I'm trying to do. But i haven't made a concerted effort to assess the stash and work proactively at using it up. However I am not a person who decides to make a quilt and then forays to the store to buy just for that quilt. I always think in terms of what I already have and of using as much as possible.

I suspect I'll feel even more strongly about stash reducing when the stuff if pulled out of the closet and then moved to a new closet. At present it's all divided by color into zip plastic bags [oh, I know some say that's bad for fabric]. Well, it works for me since plastic bags as squashable and also I can see what I have. I use the ones sheets and comforters come in. I see photos of wonderful sewing rooms with the fabric in baskets or neatly folded on open shelve, maybe something like that is in my future. We will see. My current method works for now. Being in the middle of packing, I long for days with a nice open hour or two just to sit and sew.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Another Poem

Yesterday's poems were serious and beautiful. Today's poem has been around for a while and seems to have been written by that prolific versifier, Anonymous. I came across it today and chuckled again as I did a few other times in the almost forgotten past.

In the dim and distant past
When life's tempo wasn't so fast,
Gramma used to rock and knit,
Crochet, tat and baby sit.

When the kids were in a jam
They could always count on Gram.
But today she's in the gym
Exercising to keep slim.

She's checking the web or surfing the net,
Sending some emails or placing a bet.
Nothing seems to stop or block her
Now that Gramma's of her rocker.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April is National Poetry Month

Another April, another National Poetry Month when I get an email every day from Knopf with a poem and some additional info, maybe another poem or two. I've meant to add poems to this blog and have been thinking of other things. So today two Japanese poems and one fragment. Fragment first, the last section of Wallace Stevens'"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird
sat in the cedar-limbs.

From Dogen's "Poems on the Treasury of the Clear Seeing Eye"

In midnight water,
no wave, no wind,
the empty boat
is flooded with moonlight.

And by Li Po, "I Make My Home in the Mountains"

You ask why I live in the mountain forest,
and I smile, and am silent,
and even my soul remains quiet;
it lives in the other world
which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom,
The water flows.

I am reading a book of essays by Jane Hirshfield [from 1997] called Nine Gates, Entering the Mind of Poetry. I'm sure she chose to say "poetry" and not "the poet" although I believe she enters the mind of both. It is very insightful and enlightening, perfect to read this month. It is one of my many serendipitous finds at the Housing Works Thrift Store, apparently once read with occasional little check marks in the margin but no commentary and in pristine condition as if it hadn't been read. For so much satisfaction I paid $3.00 I often find that books come into my hands or to my attention just at the right time.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

UFO, had to go

Some UFOs are never going to be finished -- at least by me. These segments for a double wedding ring with paper pieced quarter circles has been in the bottom of a big wicker hamper for at least five years. I like hte pattern, I like the colors but I am not going to put it together; piecing the curved seams is something I don't want to struggle with. So this UFO is going out to a share table and if someone wants to go on from where I left off -- good for them. I have some of that old WASP guild about not finishing what you start, but I'm ignoring it at this point. If that's maturity, I'v finally grown up. If it's laziness, sobeit.

On the other hand, this UFO which was a bed fellow of the above pieces, and which is at least as old, or perhaps older, IS going to become a quilt and quickly, too. It was there because I did all the quilting by hand and thought I'd put the squares together by hand also -- like while riding on a bus or something. But to hell with that! I'm zigzagging the square together which is quick and easy if not at all elegant. The quilt will get finished, will have that faddish "vintage" look and will be given away, unless I find I can sell it for some pittance.

Thus I am cleaning up the odds and ends I am uncovering as I sort and pack. I cannot believe I found I had three editions of the complete piano sonatas -- the scores, not recordings -- of Beethoven. I love them, but can't play most of them and definitely am thrift-storing two versions. I suppose other such things will appear. Nice to get rid of some of the clutter without a shred of regret.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Another Quilt Gets a New Home

Bethany Reynold's "Stack and Whack" technique of making fascinating quilts with swirling patterns -- all of them different -- has delighted me ever since I learned it from her first book, which was given to me by a dear friend, Lynn. It looks like painstaking fancy cutting. It's not. It's painstaking layering of the fabric before cutting and then whack-whack, well, really cut carefully to make sure the layers don't shift. The sewing is what delights me because I can never foresee what a block is going to look like until it is complete -- not entirely a failure of my imagination but mostly the wonder of using a fairly complex textile design and rearranging the parts.

This was my second "stack and whack" and I thought I'd love a sunny yellow background on my bed because I do love sunny yellow in the house -- like so much sunshine. But it didn't work in my crowded and too busy apartment so I've never used this quilt. Now it is being sent to a new owner, a co-worker of my daughter. who has seen the pictures and wants to buy it. Hurray! It'll have a new home, a happy new owner. And I have a reason -- as if I needed one -- to make another "stack and whack" in the next few months ... in fact I have just the fabric which was purchased for this very purpose two or three years ago. So it's time! Soon.

Monday, April 06, 2009

As Done As It's Going to be For a While

This UFO now has a border and a piece back, all it needs is batting and to be quilted -- and that's as done as it's going to be for a while. It feels good to have that much done. I felt this particular quilt pattern, which I do not consider a very good ideas at all, has fought me at every step just to become coherent. But it is. It will be useful but quite possibly not used by me. One of the sell, or eventually, if there is a charitable opportunity, given away.

It happens that now and then some pattern will catch my eye, or my fancy, or both -- unless they're the same thing -- and I jump in quickly and start making it. If it's a lucky time I finish the whole thing at once and even if I don't like it at the end, it's done and that makes it useful. If it's unlucky it gets UFO-ed for weeks, months or sometimes years, and then when I come back to it the originall impetus has faded. In this case I didn't even remember starting it and it became very different from the original inspiration. Ah, well, it's done and finishing a project always gives me a pious feeling.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Empire Quilt Guild Meeting

This is the show and tell photo Cindy Russell took [and is now on the Empire Quilter's Guild website -- along with all the other show and tells -- including an amazing quilted Obama picture that is worth going to look at]

I decided, instead of being sad that yesterday could be my last Empire Quilters Guild meeting, I would maintain my membership and do a six hour trip [each way] two or three or four times next year to come to a meeting. There is so much I like about this group, from the many women who are friendly and competent to the excellent speakers to the share table and occasional members flea markets when I buy lots of great fabric at incredible prices, to the show and tell which is always interesting to the quilter of the month -- yesterday a woman who made dolls as well as quilting and who was a very humorous speaker, plus the wonderful biannual shows.

The quilts from the show have been beautifully photographed by our photographer/ webmaster, Cindy Russell and her husband/partner and can be seen in all their glory by clicking here. It's a fantastic show -- almost a survey of the kinds of quilts being made today, although there are not many truly traditional ones.

The quild gained twenty new members at this meeting, one of the most unexpected was a young man, Nick Aker, thirteen years old -- but going to be fourteen the first of May, as he emphasized. [A cute picture of him on the show and tell page too]. A very poised boy who showed us a complex baby dress he had made and a crib quilt. We have always had a few men in our membership, a couple are quite active. I doubt Nick represents a trend but it was delightful to meet him.

I "showed and told" about the shirting quilt and found people were more interested than I expected. I did mention that I was hoping to get more buttons for embellishment. When I got home, lo and behold! In my mail was a package from a swap partner with a 4x6 baggie full of buttons, many were the blue shirt buttons I especially wanted. So today I'll put them on the quilt and tomorrow I can probably get it in the mail to daughter Leslie to whom it is promised.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spring, on again, off again

Too beautiful today to stay in and struggle with the "Christmas Cactus" UFO that seems to fight me at every turn. I changed the border entirely and have changed my mind three times already about the backing which I'm not ready for yet -- but, soon I hope. Anyway, the sun managed to beam down on my sewing table for a wonderful half hour as it found it's way to a different point in the sky than it had attained all winter. And I could not stay inside, especially while the radio announcer was saying it will rain all day tomorrow and not be very nice on Saturday either.

There are crocuses in Riverside Park - as above -- looking fresh and humble and a little afraid of the days when the sun isn't shining. And in Central Park the forsythia has become great clumps of sunshine yellow. The daffodils near the rowboat lake are perky -- and the rowboats -- one with rather amorous occupants -- are out and so are sunners on the rocks beside the lake -- but no bikinis yet. School kids are shouting to one another and galloping along the paths and grammas are buying toddlers ice cream on sticks.

Yes, I've seen a lot of springs come but some things are too wonderful to ever become blase about. On a lovely day, one simply has to feel the sun and rejoice.