Saturday, November 19, 2011

"I Have Heard The Mermaids Calling Each to Each . . . "

so goes a line from one of my favorite poems, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (in which J. Alfred never actually gets up the courage to mention love, since "there will be time, there will be time"). I love how TS Eliot layers images to create atmosphere and feeling in his poetry - I think if he'd been born 50 years later he probably would have been a film director instead of a poet. In any case, that line has always stuck with me through the making of this quilt. I wanted it to, partially, look like the mermaids were swimming through the layers of coral and bubbles and seaweed, playing a game or calling to one another as they swam.
As I sewed this together and started quilting it, I realized that the front is not really water coloured at all. But it does resemble the sunset reflecting on tide pools and sand at low tide. So I decided that the less erudite name for this quilt was the "Sand and Sea quilt". Imagine exploring tide pools on a December day when the tide is out at sunset. And then later, of course, when the tide comes in . . .
. . . all that remains is the watery surface of the ocean. Were the mermaids real or a dream? Who can tell?

Okay, done waxing poetical on you. As you may remember, if you are a regular around here, I put the front of this quilt together improvisationally. Since it had all warm colours, I decided to put cool, purple - blue tones on the back only. No red, no yellow or green -y blues allowed. This required picking up three fat quarters at the local fabric store, but otherwise the back came from my stash. A lot of these prints were ones I had been loathe to use because the patterns were so big, so I'm happy to have them displayed in all their glory on the back of the quilt. The most fun thing about this quilt is having it all wrapped around you and seeing both sides like this:
You can't really see the quilting, as I finished binding it the same day our washing machine broke, so I haven't washed it yet. (Although you can get the idea if you peek up at the photo of the back) I started by quilting it in random horizontal lines, but they ended up being really far apart. By the time I was done that I had thought of the sunset - tide pool connotations, so I decided to follow the lines like the ripples left in the sand by the waves. Hard to explain - maybe I'll show you once its washed.
It is really long and skinny, but I went by Jane Brockett's theory that sometimes a quilt is done when you run out of fabric. I thought about putting borders along the sides to make it wider, but in the end, everything I had in my stash that worked colour-wise made it look busier, so I called it done. Emma used this as her snuggle quilt on our way to Cambridge last month, so she has claimed this quilt. She calls it "boo quit" (blue quilt) which I suppose is as good a description as any.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not a Handmade Christmas this Year . . .

I'm feeling a little bummed out this year. I'm so busy with work and family that I don't think its going to be a Handmade Holiday this year. I love to make people gifts - it is one of my favorite things to do is sew for my friends and family. But right now I'm really trying to just focus on getting enough sleep, being well prepared for my classes, and keeping my house and family sane. For the next month, Dave has papers due, so we have put the kids in daycare full time. This should, theoretically give me more time, but I have also picked up an extra class at school, so I am almost working full time. It means that when the kids are home we like to focus on spending time with them, and that they are staying up later thanks to long afternoon naps every day. So, sewing and crafting are taking a back seat to keeping us all sane. Sigh.

Ah well, I do like teaching. It brings out a different side of my personality. I can be loud and use my slightly cutting wit (much more effective on teenagers than it is on 5 year olds) and invent clever assignments for the students. But it doesn't give me time to focus on the more contemplative, reflective, artistic side of my personality. Well, I can't do everything all the time, can I?

I suppose not. Hope you're all having a fun November. We're supposed to get our first snow tonight!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Oh, October, how I love you.

I really do love October. Not only is there all the beauty of leaves and the fun of warm weather clothes, but there is my birthday and Halloween. This year Dave was very, very sweet and threw me a surprise party with 15 adults and about 15 kids, all crammed happily into our little house. He managed to get everyone into the house with food and convince them to clean the house in under an hour. Impressive, no?

Here is me, with my mouth open (as always - that's why you never see photos of me - I'm always talking in them) chatting with some of my friends. I didn't have anyone's permission to post photos on the internet, so I figured this was pretty unclear of everyone else.
This past weekend we went to visit the cousins in Ontario. They had a LOT of fun, and both the drives were pretty decent. Here we are at "Crossroads" - the buffet resteraunt Grandma and Grandpa love to take us to (I remember going to it when I came out to meet Dave's parents when we were newly engaged).
The other great thin about visiting the cousins is the space - Dave's brother has a big house (compared to ours) and about an acre of yard that back onto a neighbouring farmer's woodlot. He's been given permission to make paths through the woods, so its a really fun place to play. The kids could be loud, they could run around and they could have a kind of freedom we rarely get in the city. It was great.
Finally, we had Halloween. Here are the finished Jedi costumes. I decided to pick up some brown fabric and make the full Jedi gear. The underneath part is the yellow upolstery fabric I already showed you. The brown is a great basket weave brown cotton gauze that drapes really nicely.
The full costumes were a little too much for me to take on. I spent all my spare time for over a week sewing these, and the house was turned upside down by the time I was done. I've almost go it back in order now.
Emma wore the ancestral cow costume. I don't have blog photos of it, but both Andrew and Aaron have worn this costume for Halloween. Emma went to about half the amount of houses as the boys, as I had to carry her and I'm not that spry right now, but she had fun, anyway.
We went out with two of Andrew's friends - a twin boy and girl. One is in his class this year, and one was in his class last year. Our street is not much for Halloween, being mostly apartment buildings. But one street over and one block south it is Halloween central, as it is all houses and all the kids from the apartment buildings need to trick or treat somewhere. In three blocks (both sides of the street) we had lots of fun and candy for my still quite little ones. There were lots of costumes to look at (both kids and grown ups), decorations everywhere and even a haunted house set up in someone's yard. A super fun time was had by all.

The not so fun part of October has been the appliances break downs. I think I mentioned that our fridge broke down over Thanksgiving weekend? Well, last week, just as we were getting prepared to go away for the weekend, our washing machine broke down. The part Dave thinks we need is on order. Sigh. I was hoping to sew this afternoon, but instead off I go with my four baskets of laundry to hang out at the laundromat. Sigh. Have a great week!