Friday, June 11, 2021

One Down, One To Go


I had my first cataract surgery yesterday. As the date neared, I hustled to get as many important things needing good eyesight done as I could, knowing that there would be about a month between surgery one and when both eyes were healed enough to order up new glasses. They all promise me I will be seeing near perfect but for my best vision I will need some corrective lenses. I'm already astounded at how well I can see with my right eye without glasses, but being farsighted, deciphering things up close (like words on a page) requires getting the glasses on and some squinting as now the right eye isn't seeing well through the current prescription. I know some of you have already had this surgery so you must know what I mean. I had wanted to get a new blank journal made for myself as I had few pages left in my current one (used for writing prompts and yoga meditations). Well, I almost made it. I picked out fabric (I believe this is a hand-dyed fabric from friend Susan), fused it to felt, did some minimal quilting (following the textures in the fabric) and turned the excess along the edges to the inside for fusing. This makes a very soft cover and I found myself dithering over whether to fuse another piece to the inside for a little more stability. Still dithering. If you click for a larger photo, you can just make out white dots marking where I still need to punch holes with that awl for attaching the signatures. Said signatures are all folded and punched.

Which brings me to my fancy new punching cradle, made by Jim Poelstra of Affordable Binding Equipment. It wasn't cheap, which is why I've been putting off purchasing one, but it is beautifully handcrafted of sturdy birch. Sure beats making do with a catalog or phone book, and much sturdier than the DYI cardboard one I made. Punching my signatures was a joy instead of a struggle, and isn't that what we all strive for when plying our particular crafts with the tools we use to make them?

So even though I got this far just days before the surgery and probably could have eked out the time to sew in the signatures, I'm sure I can see well enough to do it in this time before surgery two in a little more than a week. I'll probably even be able to see well enough to write in it!

 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Symmetry Apparently My Thing


I finished composing and piecing the backing for the Kaffe inspired baby quilt and the outcome was actually a surprise. You see, I knew I'd begin by squaring up the end of the yardage from a previous baby quilt, the fabric I'm not so keen on and want to see go away, to make a selvage to selvage panel running down the center. I knew there'd have to be more added to its length but in the meantime, I searched the fabrics left from making the top for other somewhat large selvage to selvage pieces to make up the width. I imagined big blocks of fabric randomly placed with some of those leftover rectangles fitted in here and there. May as well start piecing those rectangles while I decide on the rest, and by one of those very happy coincidences discovered that eight of them sewn end to end were about the same length as that center panel and I had enough to make two sets, one for either side of the center panel. and that is where the idea of asymmetrical placement of different sized larger pieces started to unravel.

I tried, I really did try, to keep the green and the orange panels uncut, thinking to place them on either side next to the strips of rectangles but the imbalance was too much for me. The green piece was quite a bit wider than the orange piece so the center panel and its rectangle strips would no longer be in the center, plus the difference in value between the green and orange would make one side visually heavier than the other. Couldn't do it. Cut each one in half so that they could symmetrically be added to either side of that central piece. And how many rectangles do I still have? Just 2 shy of being able to make two more strips. I cut the missing rectangles from a strip of the center fabric and pieced the strips that would go between the orange and green panels. You will note I did arrange the light and medium rectangles to be offset in the adjacent strip. I like a bit of offsetting, but asymmetry has always been a struggle for me.

So now all that was left was to add to the length. I had two very long strips of the flowered fabric, trimmed from the previous baby quilt when squaring it up after quilting, plenty long enough to span the width of this backing, and 3 shorter strips of about the same width that could be pieced together to make them equally long. Continuing with symmetry appeared predetermined. In order not to end up with a seam too near the edge of the top, I did split the pieced strip lengthwise to add to top and bottom of the backing before adding the wider strips to that, making the finished length of the backing just two inches top and bottom extra (more on the sides), enough to give me some wiggle room when layering and quilting.

 I have to say, this backing would make a great top so this baby is getting a two for one quilt. I just love the way it came out. And of all the different fabrics I used in the top and backing, this is the pile of scraps that remain. A pretty good job of using up some fabric!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Ponderings and Musings


Here's the first pondering. It's always tricky knowing when it is safe to sow seeds and set out plants around here. Theoretically one can do this as early as May although June is safer. Case in point, we've suddenly had several nights where it got down around freezing. For the most part, my deck is covered enough to not present a problem but I still tend to put off setting out the new plants for the season. But last week one of my plants that winters over surprised me with a single bloom (you can see it in the back of the photo), so I figured I may as well pick out my replacement geraniums for the copper tub and other varieties for the smaller pots. So here's this year's selection - all new varieties for me save the geraniums.

A totally different kind of ponder would be this: Do you struggle to know how to describe yourself and your creative endeavors, especially if you dabble in art quilts? I've tried several labels over the years, none particularly satisfying nor giving the desired result when said to an actual person. Tell someone you are a watercolor artist, or an oil painter (or just painter), a sculptor, even a mixed media artist, and your audience will know what you are talking about. Say textile artist, fiber artist, or especially art quilter and the audience will mostly be confused. (More confusing to the public are those who try to skirt the whole quilt thing by calling their work textile paintings, a term I find quite disingenuous.) Nina-Marie of Creations . . Quilts, Art . . . Whatever knows exactly what I'm talking about as she related a recent conversation with an old friend who in a minor revelation blurted "Oh, I know you quilt, Nina, but I didn't realize that you did art too!" And for my money, she has hit upon the perfect description of what we do: "...I...design art which I then create with fabric." How simple and clear is that? Her entire post on who is an artist and what is art is worth the read.

Here's something worth pondering: Overall, how have you been doing lately? I've had my struggles which frankly have had nothing to do with the pandemic lockdowns and isolations; they started long before then. I knew it wasn't depression, although if I described some of my feelings, I know people would be quick to slap on a diagnosis of depression. But I also knew I'd periodically lost the drive and passion that I used to have for a lot of things. This wasn't helped by my new medical issues but even after getting them stabilized, I've felt a lot of drifting going on. Can't . . . quite . . . put . . .my . . . finger . . . on . . . it . . . And then last month I ran across an article in the New York Times that perfectly described what I've been going through. Due to the pandemic, new studies are recognizing the psychological "middle child" that's been ignored: Languishing. Not burnout and not depression and certainly not flourishing, but a void in between, "...a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you're muddling through your days... the absence of well being ... You're not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus and triples the odds you'll cut back on work." Yes, me too many days.

Now I don't tell you this to worry you or illicit well-meaning comments about it being ok or suggestions for how to break out of it. It's enough to have it identified and defined so that I'm not sitting around wondering what's wrong with me. It's such helpful knowledge, and I can do something about it now that I understand the issue. But I did think it might be helpful information if there are others out there going through the same thing and not understanding what it is. Or, you might prefer to side with Austin Kleon who doesn't agree with this article at all and instead says it's just being dormant. He's listed definitions of both languishing and dormancy to make his case, but this is one of the few times I don't agree with him. He may have been experiencing dormancy but I am definitely not nor have I been as he describes it, but instead it's languishing. Read his response to the article and decide for yourself what you may have been going through. And if you are flourishing, I am SO happy for you - you are the best of survivors!

There's been lots of musing lately. I took a 3 session zoom webinar with David Whyte on The Poetry of Self Compassion: Revealing What Is Hidden As A Gift To Others. I've long admired his poetry and have been working on self compassion with my yoga teacher for many years. I was intrigued with this idea of self compassion being a gift to others, particularly as I have always struggled with what I call hands on compassion, looking the person in need in the eye as I extend help rather than doing it from a distance by say, writing a check to a charity or donating a quilt to an organization that distributes them to the needy. Lots of food for thought in those 3 one-hour sessions. And lots of poetry too. Aware of the difficult year we have been through that we are not yet quite shed of, he offered this poem by Derek Mahon which I found quite comforting. Perhaps you will too.

Everything Is Going To Be All Right

How should I not be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, there will be dying,

But there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart.

The sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the day break and the clouds flying,

Everything is going to be all right.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Progress!

I quit my dilly dallying and finished piecing the Kaffe inspired baby quilt, the incentive being that I'd scheduled a lunch date with a quilting friend. I'd e-mailed her some in-process pictures a few months ago when she'd contacted me to say she was vaccinated and hoped we could get together again soon. I'd only had one of my two shots at that time so the lunch would have to wait a bit longer. So how embarrassed might I be if I saw her after all this time had passed and didn't have at least a finished top to share. I can't begin to described how much joy this quilt is giving me, how much I like the interplay of the various peaches and greens with the floral fabric, the geometric lines of the pattern. It's been awhile since I've been so pleased with the outcome of a quilt, no second guessing, no wish I hadn't done that. Next will be some piecing of a backing (I still have quite a bit of the flower fabric and I want it GONE!).

The last time I'd seen this friend, she and her husband had just moved. Since I knew she'd tried these coiled fabric bowls and found them tedious and unfulfilling to make (the opposite of how I feel about them), I'd wanted to make a small one for her as a housewarming gift. I don't remember now what kept me from getting one made before that last lunch together, but I failed to get my act together. Now at least a year later, I still hadn't made one for her. With the lunch date looming, I promised myself I'd get it done this week, AFTER the top was done. Talk about last minute. Our luncheon date was today and I only sat down to make what I call a trinket dish yesterday afternoon. But as you can see, I did finish it, and was once again pleased with myself that I had a sudden lightbulb moment when hunting through the bag of fabrics and scraps set aside for these bowls. As I pushed leftovers from the quilt top off my cutting mat, it dawned on me that I could use up more of the flower fabric and scraps of two other fabrics in that top.

It's been a very long time since I've made one of these so there was much poring over directions and notes I'd made about needles and machine settings that worked with my machine before cutting some strips and starting to wrap, then starting to coil. I soon picked up the pace and was glad that I still enjoy making these. As for my friend, she was delighted at what felt to me like a rather meager gift. And yes, she did recognize that I'd used some of the fabrics from the top. I could tell she would be going straight home and figuring out where and how to use it.

When we picked today for our lunch, we chose a favorite restaurant whose seating is in the 3 story atrium with water feature in the center of the office building where POAC used to exhibit before the building changed hands. We both felt it was a "covid safe" place to meet with all that open space around us (and thus good ventilation), still being a bit wary even though being vaccinated. We had no idea that the CDC would announce yesterday that people like us would no longer need to wear masks in public unless there was some circumstance that made us feel uncomfortable without one. We both commented, is this it? Are we back to something somewhat normal? I'm so glad it happened along with my first meal out with a friend. Yes, we smiled and briefly hugged and one could almost forget the caution and "confinement" (as my friend called it) of the last year. Let's hope it holds, that people get their vaccinations, that science still works towards ever improving it as more information comes to light. May we continue to have reunions like I had today.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Phenakistiscope Animation


Here's a little something that might blow your mind, something I don't think I knew about, certainly didn't know what it was called. And at the bottom of the article, there's a link to a pdf that tells you how you can make your own.


The Wonderful World Of Phenakistiscope Animation

 

Friday, April 30, 2021

A Little Housekeeping and Other Distractions

Not THAT kind of housekeeping, although lord knows my place could use it. No, this is about my blog site and a message I got from Blogger recently:

FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner) is going away
You are receiving this information because your blog uses the FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner).
Recently, the Feedburner team released a system update announcement , that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021.
After July 2021, your feed will still continue to work, but the automated emails to your subscribers will no longer be supported.

I added this widget quite awhile ago when I realized it was an option. I have a couple of blogs that I follow that I've opted to get notice of new posts or even entire posts via e-mail and had at least one reader that was interested in getting notifications from me that way. But now everyone agrees that Feedburner is dying a slow death and it is time to move on. I don't know if anyone else is using this service to receive my posts but if you are, be forewarned that the e-mails will end in a few months. My recommendation is to sign up for a free blog feed reader like the one I use: The Old Reader. Just pop in the name of the blog you want to follow and like magic, whenever the blogs you have chosen publish a new post, it will show up there. Just one site to go to in order to stay up with all the blogs you follow. Most posts can be read in full right there. A few you may have to follow the link to the post on its blog if the blog owner has it set up that way. And if you wish to post a comment, you just click on the post title and it will take you to it on its blog where you can then comment. Here's a screen shot of what mine looks like when I log in: