Tuesday, January 31, 2006
There have been some slings and arrows. A side job I had been asked to do blew up in our faces today, after I had put a fair amount of work in on it. It was a library assignment, and I was working on it on library time, but had been told I'd be paid some extra shekels for it. The director and I were told unceremoniously that our services weren't required any longer. Frankly, I'm fairly glad to be out from under, but it had presented the opportunity of pulling in some extra and much-needed money for the library. And that won't happen now.
I'm trying to stay detached and not get as angry as I could get, on several levels, over all this. It's not worth it, and as I said, it's somewhat of a relief to be rid of it. I could see potential for trouble, and trouble was exactly what we got.
But enough about the illegitimati of life. Quilting is the thing, and there is weekend quilty brightness beckoning on the horizon.
Over this past weekend I made some good progress on the Ephemera quilt. Some of the blocks are actually sewn together, but it's a slow go due to the blocks' being wonky and free-form. And as I go, I'm still tweaking layout and figuring out placement of my photos and other objects.
Not much is likely to get accomplished the rest of this week due to the fact that I'm preparing for TWO weekend classes with the one and only Mrs. Mel herself, Melody Johnson. (Her blog is here.)
When the WQI class flyer came, announcing that Melody would be teaching, I knew that this was a stellar opportunity to get up off my saggy little behind and step out of the box I inhabit most of the time. Her approach couldn't be more different than mine: where I ponder, she already would have three quilts pieced. Where I dawdle and dither, she is action itself. Maybe a bit of that action will rub off on me.
I'm hoping to get loose from work a bit early tomorrow and head up to Brookfield with my supply list for the classes.
Right now I plan to sit and knit awhile. I've finished one sleeve for the Wonderful Wallaby and cast on for the other. I plan to get in a lot of knitting time during the Olympics. It would be lovely to get this sweater DONE and get on to more interesting things.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Today we had a Chili Cookoff Luncheon at the library as a Volunteer Appreciation event. It was a huge success and I think everyone had a fine time. There's nowhere better to be on a gray and rainy Saturday afternoon than eating chili and other cozy comfort foods with a congenial group of friends.
But here's the amazing part: I won the Chili Cookoff! My entry was Cincinnati Chili, which has always pleased the fam, and it went over pretty successfully with those outside the fam, too. Me--a prize-winning cook. Who knew?
Actually, no prize. Just the honor and glory heaped onto me from all sides. Yeah.
The Chili Chef
Brought a book home with me that I think I need to actually, for-real, own. Quilted Memories by Lesley Riley. I had discovered her website a long time ago and loved what she does with old photos. I've loved antique photographs since I was a kid, and she has pointed me along the way I need to go on the Ephemera quilt. She's put into words the exact feelings I have about how this quilt has to look. Very visually prophetic for me.
Anyway, I got sewing once I got home and got all the chili wiped off my face. And clothes. I was anxious to get going on integrating the printed out text and photos I made this week.
Signatures from an 1880s autograph album.
Photos--colors altered and printed onto cotton.
Altered-color printout of a 1912 newspaper article.
Sewing and sewing these little blocks. Will it never end?
But it's really not the sewing that drags on and on. It was the planning. This quilt has been underway, planning-wise, for at least three years. There's no one who can beat something into the ground as convincingly as I can. Or can spend as much money on fabric for one project.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Last night I stayed up way too late playing with color tricks in PhotoShop. I played with the images I plan to use in the quilt--a couple autograph album inscriptions, a newspaper article, and a couple photos. I think I'm starting to get the effects I'm looking for. The photos, printed out in their real colors looked too obvious and glaring to me. By toning them down, they'll have the subtlety I want and yet still have a presence.
Nothing like a little Photoshop to totally eat up ABOUT THREE HOURS. But I'm learning.
Tonight I'm printing out some of the images and I'm liking what I see.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
I've been making more Ephemera blocks this weekend, and have finally begun to play with layout on the design wall. One thing is plain--I think I need more lighter lights and more darker darks. More contrast in general. Working with such funereal colors demands more emphasis on value, methinks.
As you can see, I played with arrangement of the values I DO have.
There is more scanning, manipulating, and printing of images to be done also. I plan to scan some newspaper images and print them out to use as fabric in the blocks.
The other question is whether to retain the curved Flying Geese element or to lose it. I was figuring to jettison it until I started playing with it today and rather like this:
As to the face images, I may use one; I may use all three. I will certainly "frame" them with fabric backdrops, and may end up partially obscuring parts of some of the images with tulle. And there will be lots of quilting and embellishment.
This is truly the quilt with no end. It just goes on and on and on.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
When I was going into 6th grade, I took summer sewing classes at my local Singer Sewing Center. The teacher was a buxom Italian-American grandma named Mary Piscitelli. Her mission was to take several groups of pre-adolescents and guide them through the construction of complete outfits by summer's end. It couldn't be just a skirt, or just a jumper. It had to be a complete ensemble.
I look back and marvel at Mary's patience. She was visibly frazzled and frustrated from time to time (we must have sorely tested her endurance on many occasions), but she succeeded hugely, and 100% of the students had an outfit ready on schedule for the end-of-summer fashion show. That first year, I made a lavender denim skirt with kick pleat, a lavender and beige denim bolero jacket, and a white blouse, with collar, buttons, and buttonholes. Quite an accomplishment for a scraggly kid like me.
I continued with her classes through the next several summers, and she guided me through tailoring, underlinings, interlinings, plaid-matching (her heart must have sunk when I brought in a length of one-way plaid the second summer and announced I wanted to make a coat), bound buttonholes, covered buttons, welt pockets, and more. The patience of a saint! And it wasn't just me--there were many other young kids in the class. She initiated a generation of young sewers in our town and turned many into lifelong sewers.
That's an excellent legacy.
The irony of Mary Piscitelli's story is that eventually, she lost her job because she didn't have a college degree. That was a travesty. I learned as much from Mary as I did from my college level teachers in clothing design, and I will always honor her in my heart for what she gave me.
And what she gave me was infinite possibility. If I can think it, I can sew it.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Thank goodness. I knew there had to be some reason for winter.
Green Lake 2006 was a great time. Very congenial group of quilters (and knitters). Much was accomplished--the sewing, the sharing of opinions, the constructive criticism, the knitting, the yakking, the eating.
The eating is always especially memorable at Green Lake. All our meals are prepared by the eminent Mary Salter, who is such a treasure I cannot even begin to relate. EVERYTHING is homemade. We all were totally spoiled by it all: The Taffy Apple French Toast. The Chicken Yahoo. The fresh rolls filled with mashed potatoes. Oh my.
We did manage one field trip--to Neenah and Menasha, hitting one outstanding yarn shop, Yarns By Design and one outstanding quit shop, Primitive Gatherings.
I chalked up one major accomplishment, but it only very loosely fits into the definition of "quilt". I pieced, out of scads of old jeans, a papasan seat cushion cover for Caroline. It was wrestling match with all that denim, but the Bernina, equipped with a jeans foot and a 100 needle, just glided through it all. Bernina love...
After that workout though, the machine is probably entitled to some R&R, otherwise known as a machine tune-up. Don't want to abuse that lovely machine.
I also got in some solid time on the Ephemera quilt. I now have 102 blocks made, as well as some stip sets. I'm hoping to get it up on the design wall this week. And maybe, just maybe, start sewing blocks together. It's time to assembe this quilt and get the show on the road. And then to move on.
Good to be home! But heaven help us, DH is looking at Westie web sites.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Absolutely. And it requires packing up half the sewing room and sometimes half the kitchen. At Green Lake, the food prep is all done for us by the wonderful Mary, so the kitchen items going with me today are fewer. Snacks, soda, wine. But the sewing items... Totally out of control.
The Green Lake retreat is held at a retreat center right next to a beautiful lake in central Wisconsin. This mid-January time is always such a perfect time to breath a big sigh of relief, the holidays being packed up and OVER. The thought of this retreat ahead of me in mid-January sustains me and helps me get through the most hectic parts of the holidays.
I'm hoping to get one large non-quilt sewing project completed--a papasan cover for my DD, all pieced out of old jeans. What? It's not enough that we wear them. Now we have to sit on them too? I would have to answer yes on that one, but after all, I am the Denim Queen. My daughter seems to be genetically pre-disposed to denim-centeredness too.
I'm also taking all the assorted pieces of my Ephemera quilt, which has been languishing on the design wall and in a pile on my sewing table. There are more blocks to sew, and maybe, just maybe, I'll start assembling some pieces. I would definitely like to get this one completed.
Another box holds fabric for a possible MArQ challenge quilt due FINISHED in early April. I have to confess that I'm beginning to have the teeniest concerns about whether this quilt will happen ON TIME, and more to the point, if it will happen at all. I have a great idea for it. More on that another day, if I actually can get it off the ground.
Finally, the knitting is going to Green Lake also. Have to have those emergency back-up projects.
I'll be back Monday evening.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
I got one of those last night.
Back in late November, I had applied to be a part of the Artful Quilters' Webring, on the advice of a blogger whose work I admire. I had sent in the form, pasted the code onto my page, and waited to be approved. Last night I got an email from the adminstrator saying she was denying my blog's application due to LACK OF QUILTING CONTENT.
I knew I'd been busy and distracted lately, but has it come to this??
Sigh. Discipline is what's needed. And maybe some down time to collect myself and work on UFOs. A quilt retreat.
But wait! I'm going on a quilt retreat this coming weekend! Friday through Monday, at Green Lake. Hallelujah! This is a chance to begin to dig myself out of this unproductive hole I seem to be wallowing in. I'm beginning to plan my projects. I'm hoping this will be a boost to the creative process that's been kept tamped down way too much lately.
I can't wait till retirement and figure that's when I'll be able to break free and accomplish. Who knows how much time there will ever be? Now is the time!
Sunday, January 08, 2006
The holidays were resoundingly ushered out today by the annual Mount Mary Holiday party, hosted this year by Marcia at her warm and lovely home in the northern suburbs. Her husband Tom made an appearance and said hi, and then wisely escaped. He's no dummy. He's known us all waaaaay too long.
This year was extra special as our party fell on the birthday of the King himself, Elvis Presley. Marcia spared no expense in the Elvis-ization of her house. Believe me, there's nothing that says FESTIVE like a Christmas wreath with a big image of a greasy and grinning Elvis in its center. (And how fortunate Marcia is to own a laminating device of her own--so handy for this sort of thing)
This rowdy get-together is a long-standing tradition--the table groaning under the weight of too many extravagant carbohydrates, the freely-flowing wine (and diet soda), and most of all, the exchange of lavish gifts.
Perhaps "lavish" is a stretch? Lots of imagination goes into our gift shopping, but the gifts must be white elephants. And actually, white elephant is too charitable a term to use for these items. Re-gifting is a no-no, but visits to flea markets, rummages, nursing home gift shops, and--of course--dumpsters are encouraged. Thrift is valued.
I was told by the proud giver that my gift cost $1.62. I'll remember that every time I look at this...lovely...and useful item.
The gift-opening ritual took about two hours. There were accompanying stories and explanatory notes and poems.
At some point we broke out a bottle of champagne. Thanks, Kay!
The festivities this year were amplified by Kay's having just gotten married on New Year's Eve. So we had some very special wedding gifts for her too. Snort.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
I'm the one who always LOVED Joe Cocker's voice...
And what did I pick for this scene? Up on top is a book by May Sarton. I've come to love her writing. She was a loner and reveled in it. She cherished her alone time but was generous of heart with her friends. She writes of the ordinary and of her interior life and it's most inspiring.
Underneath is my grandfather's copy of a real ponderous tome, McKean the Governor's County, by the estimable Rufus Barrett Stone. The author was a friend of my grandfather's, and this copy contains not only the author's autograph, but also the original order, and original purchase receipt. We Enrights don't throw away much. I guess I came by that trait naturally.
The photograph shows my grandfather, F. M. Enright, on the left, with his sister and brother. The brother was a bit of an edgy guy. In his later life, he was married to two different women at the same time.
The gold watch belonged to my Grandmother Enright. It's absolutely exquisite, and is as detailed on the inside as it is on the outside. Unfortunately it doesn't run. Someday I intend to get it repaired. I've been saying that for a long time.
I have many great memories of day trips to Niagara Falls when I was a kid--crossing the Peace Bridge, picnicking along the Niagara River, and watching the calm river become wilder and wilder as we neared the Falls. I've been collecting vintage souvenirs of Niagara Falls for a few years and finally have organized them all in one place on a new (new to me, anyway) wall shelf.
I wonder if they still have that big clock all made out of flowers at the Falls...
The lamp in the upper left belonged to an aunt of my DH's, and before that probably belonged to his grandmother, because it's an oil lamp that's been electrified. I've always liked the painted decoration on the base. (Of course, it's got blue in it...)
Underneath everything is a nice beat-out denim vest, playing the role of a doily in this scene. Good old weathered denim is the foundation of my wardrobe.
And there you have it--my first Fragment of Self.
Friday, January 06, 2006
One huge work victory that wouldn't mean much to anyone else: I do our library blog and have been wishing for a way to link book references to our online catalog. The catalog is constructed such that a search times out after a certain interval. If I link to the catalog, most people would just see an error message. So I've been linking book references to Amazon, which is pretty silly when you think of it--a library linking to a bookseller. I've been working with our system admin and begging for some techno help on this issue. He came through for me big time and I'm now able to add a permanent link any time I mention a book. So people can read the blog and connect directly to the catalog to place holds on items.
Well, I was pretty excited about that...
Last night though, I hit the gound running at 5 p.m. and headed up to Brookfield to do a bit of shopping. I finally bit the bullet and got new glasses ordered. I managed a few other errands, including scoring EXACTLY the book I was looking for at Half-Price Books. And had dinner at Cousins.
I like those Hot Veggies, and I keep patronizing, despite the extremely annoying Jesus-y music that particular Cousins insist on playing INCESSANTLY. I can understand being Grateful for Favors Received, but I wish they didn't insist on sucking the spirit out of the rest of us by making us listen to that insipid music.
Then I came home and stared into space till bedtime.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
This is a jumper, made from a gorgeous muted wool tartan purchased in a wonder-filled Monmartre fabric shop (in which I could happily live out the remainder of my life) on the fabled Paris trip of 1996. The design is empire waisted, but the pattern probably wasn't geared for a medium-weight wool like this. I did a terrific job making the thing--everything was matched perfectly and sewn well, but the jumper had entirely too much fabric in it. A long-ago co-worker of mine once said that NO ONE ought to be wearing five yards of fabric, and this jumper was voluminous testimony to the truth of that.
Two years ago, I folded it up on a table in the studio, figuring I'd get right to it. Yeah, and you can probably figure out the rest. It got moved from table to shelf and back again, through a delirious two years of full-blown, world-class procrastination.
A couple months ago, I ripped the thing apart. Then I got paralyzed on details--do I cut four inches off each side seam? Or six inches? I dithered about that for another few weeks. Yesterday, with unusual decisiveness I decided to...split the difference. A total of twenty inches of lovely wool was trimmed away and the whole thing was neatly reassembled, with a minuimum of moaning and stupid error. There was just a teeny bit of cursing over getting the pockets situated correctly, but we'll gloss over that unfortunate part of the story.
One of my adages has always been that it's fun to sew things, but it's no fun whatsoever to RE-sew them. But you know what? When I actually got to it, it took only about two and a half hours to finish the job.
Great temporary satisfaction. About fifty other similar projects await.
Back to work today. This is likely to be a killer as we plow through the requests and returns of the last five days, and prepare for our first van pickup/delivery since Thursday last. I think it's a jeans day.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Let's see...I managed to summon the energy to whip up sausage and French Toast this morning after my walk. And I watered the plants. That's about it for concrete accomplishment and I have to say I'm enjoying it thoroughly. One more day of this depraved behavior and then it's back to the world of fast-paced academe, such as it is.
I am getting some good and steady time in on the Trekking socks. The Trekking is some of the nicest sock yarn I've encountered so far. It's quite fine, and on size 1 needles that means a lot of knitting. I took them along on yesterday's Chicago trip and got the heel flap finished, the heel turned and the gusset stitches underway all in the car. It's scary to have everything work out perfectly like that, and in a moving car on I-94 to boot, but I wasn't driving, and this IS the seventh pair of these I've done. I guess I have internalized this pattern sufficiently.
Then there come along this and this which put me in my place with a big thump. I marvel and admire and know that I have far to go.
We're still working on using up the Big Ass ham. It's being used in many recipes and permutations of recipes. Today Baked Beans with Big Ass Ham is in the oven, and these are the real thing, made from scratch--it's basically my great grandmother's recipe. The aroma is heavenly, even if they do require seven or eight hours of baking. This fits in well with the general tempo of the day--only a minimum of intervention is needed on my part.
Happy New Year! It's a blank slate--unlimited possibilities await. Let's embrace them all.