Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another book

The latest book I finished was Palimpsest, by Catherynne Valente. It is the story of four people who are transported to a dream-city after an impulsive one night stand with a mysterious stranger, and how they each become obsessed with the city and finding their way back to it--permanently. My reaction was mixed. Valente's language is beautiful, and her writing has that half-intriguing, half grotesque quality of fairy tales. She is never a quick read. Her characters are only symbols and the plot never seemed to quite mesh. It was a bit more explicit and graphic than I expected, and the story was too disjointed to read smoothly or draw me in completely. It seemed to both go too far, and not far enough--too far to make the reader comfortable, but not far enough for clear resolution and closure in each of the tales. I wasn't sure I'd finish it and probably won't read it again. I liked her Orphan's Tales books (In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice) better. The stories were also disjointed, but it suited the structure of the books better.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chevron Top Done, Auditioning Borders

I finished the Chevron quilt top, and am auditioning borders for it. I was originally planning a white inner border and light green outer border and medium/dark green binding, but I thought I'd try some pinks and purples for the inner border as an experiment. I think the pinks give it a little zip. There is a tiny bit of coral pink in the body of the quilt--thin stripes scattered in one of the fabrics--so I think I'm going to go with that one (shown in the second photo). I want the inner border to be fairly narrow. A little pink goes a long way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kindle Covers

For Christmas last year my husband got me a Kindle (which was even better than a pony!); he also got me a nice leather cover for it, but of course, I had to make a couple of fabric covers as well (just so it doesn't feel like I'm reading the same book all the time, right?). I traced around the leather cover to make the pattern, and they slip on over it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Good book

Just finished reading The Stolen Child, by Keith Donohue. Someone in my book club loaned it to me. The story of a child kidnapped by faeries and the changeling left in his place. It's a strangely compelling book about identity and change, love and loss, remembering and forgetting. Fascinating.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Where does your quilt inspiration come from?

I am inspired by color, and I will sometimes take pictures or save pages from home dec magazines just because the colors make me happy. My sketchbook has tons of such pictures tucked into it.

I found this lichen outside my office building and borrowed a camera to take a photo of it. I love the colors. And I'm actually not sure if I could re-create this from my (extensive) stash. I don't have a lot of peachy colors in my fabric collection.

And here is a mushroom photo taken the same day. I like the way it is all neutrals except for a bit of green grass.

I love Andrew Wyeth's paintings and he often painted in neutral, earth tones with just a touch of some other color--blue or green or gold--to give it life. I have a hard time being that restrained in my quilts. Maybe I need to quiet down a little.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Scrapbook FAIL!

(If you don't understand what a fail is, take a look at this website).

Our Deputy Division Director is retiring this summer and somehow I got elected to put together a scrapbook for him. So I bought supplies and had a bunch of my coworkers cut out paper fish and photos and make scrapbook pages. There are still lots more for me to put together once we finish printing photos.

Well, he doesn't like things made in China, and it turns out that scrapbooks that are not made in China pretty much don't exist, unless you go on the internet and pay 2-3 times what your average scrapbook will cost. So I thought about making one from scratch and found some acid-free chipboard and dug out all the double-sided fusible that I have and some fabric and came out with this:

Notice that white band on the right side of the scrapbook? Yes, that is the pages hanging out from the too-small cover. The chipboard I bought only came in a 12 x 12 inch size. No problem, I thought, the pages are the same size. Never having constructed a scrapbook before, I completely failed to realize that the pages are in plastic sleeves that are about an inch wider than the paper, so the scrapbook cover needs to be wider as well.

Luckily someone brought in a custom scrapbook made of wood veneer, and someone else has been enlisted to make covers out of wood. So this is just an experiment gone slightly awry. I still smile everytime I see it. And I realized that I can trim down the pages so that they will fit in the skinny scrapbook, and use it myself to document my quilts, which I've been meaning to do but somehow have never gotten around to.

What I've been reading. . .

Just finished reading Off the Books, by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh. It's an exploration of a ghetto economy in southside Chicago. When segregation became less strict, a lot of the upper and middle-class African Americans left the ghetto, leaving the poor and the destitute. With few cash infusions from outside the community, poor social services and meager political power, residents turned inward and developed an unregulated, off the books economy. People are hired part-time with no paperwork, job security, or benefits, services are paid for in cash or with barter, favors are traded, and deals are brokered. Gang leaders, clergymen, neighborhood leaders, and local shopowners get together to mediate disputes. Part of America, but another world.

The book was fairly readable, but not well-organized; it felt like the author travelled the same ground over and over, emphasizing one aspect here and another there. An interesting read, but sometimes tedious and sort of depressing.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chevron Quilt progress

I'm making slow but steady progress on what I am mentally calling my Chevron quilt (I wish I had a better name for it, that one reminds me too much of large oil companies and considering the Golf Coast Disaster, that is the last thing I want to be reminded of).

I did notice, though, that all the white-on-white strips somehow didn't make it into the quilt. I find it really difficult to use certain colors in my quilting. Black, white, and gray almost never show up in my quilts (I have some black and white fabric, and but almost no gray fabric at all in my stash). I'm not sure where the reluctance to use these colors comes from. I have no problem at all throwing yellow and orange into my quilts. Maybe I need to make a black, white, and gray quilt, or challenge myself to incorporate them into quilts with other colors.