Sunday, June 24, 2007

Abandon Hip

As my side bio notes, I read the NYT every Sunday morning--though I live no where near NYC. So, in this morning's edition, there's an interesting story about hipster crafters at the Renegade Craft Fair (see

Reading this piece made me revisit a train of thought that's been moving at a slow rumble through my head for a while . . I think ever since I read a piece on QuiltersBuzz (a buzz marketing blog) about how all the new fabric lines all-in-the-mode-of-AmyButler have made quilting fresh and new again.

In a nutshell, here it is . . . on a very real level, I don't want quilting to be hip. One of the things that drew me to quilting in the first place is that it wasn't edgy. In other parts of my life, I love the new and the hip. I get Cookie, Lucky, and Domino. I have a spanking new BlackBerry. I listen to self-burned CDs on which Tony Bennett fades into Ghostface Killah fades into Deerhoof fades into Hem. But, quilting has always been that Milk and Cookies Yankee Candle-scented part of my life that's been a sovereign nation free from detachment, irony, and kitsch.

If you've read my blog for a while, you know that I was asked to enter a few quilts in a gallery show at my college around the holidays last year. So, since I'm still stitching away on my next 10 stars for the Harvest Moon quilt and have no new photos, I thought I'd finally share what I wrote for my artist's statement:

I became a quilter for comfort. I was seeking a respite from graduate studies and wanted something that was not postmodern, did not involve footnotes, and would not try to out clever my already too clever rhetoric. I wanted a billowing bolt of nostalgia on which to rest my weary head.

To this day, I find every aspect of quilting comforting. The hand, weave, texture, tone, shade, pattern of the fabric. The deceptive depth of even the thinnest batting. The moments alone in my quilting garret pondering projects. The thumping sound of the machine as it brings together disparate elements whose only similarity may be that they all once came from a seedy cotton ball. The meditative aspect of machine quilting as I wind first this way, then that, either assuring that the lines do or do not touch in just the right way. The accidental interplay between colors and shapes that surprises at last--no matter how well planned I think the project is.

I once read that women on the prairie would piece an entire quilt top, then painstakingly take it apart, and begin anew to create another, and another. They did so to stave off the madness of long days and longer nights in the oppressive heat and numbing cold. A window opens with each piece of fabric in these quilts; the life revealed in the faded prints, dropped stitches, and hard-earned stains. There are days in each of our lives when we inhabit this prairie. And, like all art, quilts are there to comfort and sustain us, to challenge and push us forward, to make us see life anew.

Now in the interruption-studied 21st century, I quilt for quite the opposite reason than did my prairie ancestors. I long to finish. My heart races as a stack of pieces joins into pairs, sets, blocks, a top, a layered sandwich, and then a finished piece. As I turn the corner on the last bit of whip-stitching on each binding, I can barely contain my excitement. Done! This progression convinces me that some things actually do end—and that this end is frequently both lovely and useful.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

New Discoveries

I've managed to pull together the June BOAF block:

In the actual pattern, the side block is a Drunkard's Path. But, I don't do curves. I learned this after a couple Karen Stone classes. I'm a straight-line girl. So, I changed Block B to accommodate my quilting disability.

Thanks to a post by Tonya, I learned about Picasa and edited my photo this time using this super-cool free program. I think my photo is a bit sharper than the previous ones. My whole world is a bit blurrier now. While I was at the beach, I was working on my Harvest Moon stars whilst watching The Starter Wife--not as good as the book, but still great fun--and I noticed that my eyes just don't seem to be bouncing back from near to far as they used to. I've worn glasses since I was 7 (and I'm a bit older than that now) and have been dreading the day I need to move to bifocals. I'm afraid that when I see the eye doctor this week, that's exactly what I'll hear. Sigh.

My other new discovery since my last post is I'm a total multi-tasker. I don't watch tv without cleaning or folding laundry. I don't cook without catching up on Fresh Air or Diane Rehm. And, pre-children, I used to listen to books on tape while quilting. Well, it turns out the library doesn't keep my current quilting hours (after 10 pm, before 6 am), so I never have an audiobook around. Then, I got to thinking that there has to be something online. Lo and behold, I have to pay (unlike the library), but I get the book I want on demand (unlike the library). I'm currently listening to Smile When You're Feeling Blue, which is a classic made-for-miniseries novel by Elizabeth Berg that fits perfectly with my quilting spurts.

I went through out half that book finishing my last Lucky Star quilt. My former AVP loved it and teared up when she got it. It's such a nice feeling when you give a quilt to someone who will treasure it!

Saturday, June 02, 2007


We just returned from a week at the beach, where we try to go at least once a year to refresh our sea legs. We go to a little island (Tybee) and stay in a funky-retro renovated cottage. There are few things that beat the sight of my kidlets little bottoms trudging over the dunes to the big waves. We collected shells, warmed in tide pools, crashed the sea, saw dolphins and amazing dive bombing pelicans, played old maid, and generally just vegged. The children's godparents were able to fly in from the other coast, which made this visit particularly delightful.

While there, I managed to complete the first 14 stars of the Harvest Moon small project from the Yahoo-PrimFolkApplique2 group. I can't remember the last time I did needle-turn, so I'm really happy with the results. I'm completely old school when it comes to needle turn--no glue, no freezer paper, no prebasting. Just trace, cut, pin in place and we're off.

It's amazing how satisfying it can be to turn each little corner and fold under each ragged seam. Such a sense of completion!

If you're interested, I've added a set to my flickr page that shows just the BOAF blocks, so I can watch this quilt grow block by block.

Oh, and someone asked about the quilt shown in the last post. This is a pattern, Lucky Star, by Teri Atkinson. It's a wonderful card to have in your deck. It takes forever to cut, but always seems to turn out beautifully and it accommodates any type of fabric theme--from juvenile to batik.