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Archive for July, 2012

Home-making

You may remember that I moved into a furnished apartment last September. I wanted to give myself time to find out how I would be living here on Vashon, in this utterly different environment and living situation. Before acquiring furnishings, I wanted time to figure out how I would use the space.

There was a huge, high, uncomfortable king-size bed here.

You can see it in the back of the apartment. I brought the piano, the recliner, and the TV with me; and I put the bookcases in. That bed is so high that I almost needed a stool to climb on to it. I wanted to replace it from the git-go, but I thought I should have a floor plan in mind before I asked Chris to start moving his furniture out. But he told me that taking out the bed would be “no problem.”

So when daughter Nan told me that she knew of a single bed I could have for free, I went to inspect and try it out on Friday. It was in like-new condition and very comfortable. Just what I wanted. I told Chris that I had a bed and that he could remove his whenever it was convenient.

As it happened, he had two workers coming here on Saturday, and they would help him move the bed. Very convenient! It took them about five minutes to get that monstrosity out of here.

As it happened, Geoff with his van was available Saturday, and so was Nan. An hour or so after Chris had removed the big bed, they arrived with my new little bed.

Now the back of my apartment looks like this:

What a difference it makes! And the new bed is SO much more comfortable–just my size.

So now I have a 9 ft. by 9 ft. open space that may become my work space. Geoff and Nan are on the look-out for a work table and a rug. They are very resourceful hunter-gatherers.

Meanwhile, Ernie can no longer communicate with me. Of course I knew this might happen, but I haven’t tried to prepare myself for all the possible scenarios that could happen. When he was able to talk with me a week or so ago, he told me that he was not in distress and that he had “put himself in the nurse’s hands.” He has 24-hour private nursing aides. I hope he is still reading my daily e-mail love notes.

This is hard, but my family here and back East are wonderfully supportive. I’m so glad to be near Geoff and Nan. I’m making a home for myself here.

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Taking seriously my friend Neki’s jesting comment on yesterday’s post, I fiddled some more and then painted my muslin gauged pineapple. It’s far from the picture I was trying to replicate, but I went ahead and appliquéd it anyway.

It’s all practice and it’s work therapy.

I don’t want to appliqué a pineapple. I want to learn ways of creating dimension and texture in appliqué. And I want to get better at it before I work on my project.

Tomorrow I’ll try another technique.

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So, for my project, I am attempting to learn some new techniques. Yesterday I wrote about working on appliqué, and especially on dimensional appliqué. In Elly Sienkiewicz’s book, Papercuts and Plenty (Baltimore Beauties and Beyond: Studies in Classic Album Quilt Applique,

I learned about gauging. Gauging is a patterned gathering that reduces a piece of fabric to a smaller size. It is used to create texture. In this picture of a Baltimore album quilt block shown in Elly’s book, you can see a pineapple shaped by gauging.

I decided to try it with a piece of muslin. After creating a freezer paper template in the shape of the pineapple, you cut out a much larger pineapple shape from the fabric and draw on it a grid, like this:

Then you running stitch the lines of the grid and pull the ends of the threads to gather the fabric until it is the size of the template, like this:

After ironing the seam allowance to the freezer paper template, you’re ready to appliqué the pineapple to the block.

Well, here’s what my first attempt at gauging looks like: I have pulled the ends of the threads to gather the muslin.

Talk about fiddly work! I spent hours on this enterprise. After doing the best I could to get something like the patterned gathers of the pictured pineapple shaped over the template, this is the result.

Doesn’t look much like a pineapple, does it? I haven’t even bothered to iron it to the template. Obviously, this technique is going to take a lot more practice.

During the past three weeks, my husband has had a series of seizures that have rendered him dependent upon a full-time aide and a wheelchair. He can no longer talk on the phone with me.

All this–stitching and blogging, is therapy. Maybe that’s all it is. Gotta get back to work.

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Not idle

Although I haven’t written much this year, haven’t kept up with TAST or with CQJP, and haven’t had much to show, I haven’t been entirely idle. It’s been a rough time, since I crashed in January, but I am much better and in recent weeks I have been working.

What I’m working on is so overly ambitious that I am unwilling to show the work in progress. Mainly, I have been experimenting, learning new techniques, and slowly, clumsily, working on my project. Recently I read this clause in a New Yorker piece: “…most of us are at best effortful amateurs….” That certainly applies to me. Because I haven’t mastered the skills to produce the work I want to do, I labor at it and the results show it.

Oh well, though it’s frustrating, it is also satisfying to make things, to challenge myself, and to keep learning.

So…., I will show you two CQ blocks I’ve done as “studies” or trials for the project. Through these exercises, I am learning what not to do!

I painted the bit of lace yellow and I painted fabric for the blue flowers below–trying to get the color I wanted.

Although appliqué is by no means new to me, and I have combined appliqué and CQ, I wanted to see how it would work, putting appliqué over embellished seams. I’m also trying out some dimensional appliqué.

I’m not going to show you all my practice cloths, but here’s one I’m going to continue working on–more trials. The blue flower is painted silk over fusible fleece for padding. I was trying out the fusible. Not done with it.

Having never learned the finer points of appliqué technique, I’ve consulted Elly Sienkiewicz’s lavishly detailed instructions in her many books. This week I’m working my way through this one. Who knew there were so many ways?

Except for the four blocks I joined to make Noah’s quilt, I’ve never made a multi-block quilt. I’ve never had to match up blocks, etc. Now I’m trying “effortfully” to make a 12-block quilt, inspired by CQJP.

Or as my husband has said of himself, “fumble-fingered.”

You may or you may not ever see it!

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Now I am 75.

Today I am 75 years old. My son Pete, who lives in Maryland and had been vacationing in Oregon with his wife’s family, drove six hours to be here for my birthday. He and son Geoff, who lives here, brought a Mexican lunch to my place.

Here I am, with my two younger sons, Geoff and Pete.

And we enjoyed lunch together.

After two weeks of being unable to communicate, Ernie was able to wish me a happy birthday.

And now for a good cry.

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