Friday, March 10, 2017

Sneaking Off to a Quilt Show

There's a bossy old lady living in my head. Her intentions are good, I know. She wants me to live a productive and meaningful life and I'm on board with that. But her rules are rigid. For instance - no lollygagging around in quilt shops. In a voice that does not invite argument she tells me -

 "If you think you need to buy fabric, just go to your sewing room. Look around. Now, do you still think you need to go to a quilt shop? I thought not."

So I pout a little, but I get over it. I know she's right.

Another of her taboos concerns quilt shows. Anyone who quilts knows the allure of quilt shows. You go and see wonderful quilts made by talented stitchers, and it inspires you to redouble your efforts to get your own stuff finished. So what's Ma Natzi's problem? One word - vendors. The vendors line the halls of every quilt show. It's like having all the quilt shops for miles around in one place. They dangle temptation under your nose, willing and wanting to sell you everything a quilter could ever need and many things she doesn't!

"If your sewing room is already a disorganized mess, do you really need to have to shoehorn into it any more fabric, tools, gadgets or must-haves?"

No Ma'am.

But when a friend asked me to go to a very special quilt show in Tampa a few weeks ago I decided to wrap duct tape around Ma Natzi's mouth, tie her to a chair and lock her in the sewing room where the muffled sounds of her indignation would be unlikely to bring anyone to her rescue.

With her safely out of my head, we set off.

This was not your ordinary quilt show. This was a once-every-four-years show by a guild that focuses mainly on applique. Yes, I know. The dreaded A word. It used to strike terror into my heart too, but after a few million stitches, give or take or rip out a few, it's now my favourite kind of stitching.

And the happy news is it was worth it - being bad for a day. When I finish a tiny block, say 6 1/2", of applique, I swell with pride. The Gods undoubtedly had decided I needed taking down a peg or two. If it was humility I needed, they had guided me to the right place. I was very humble when I left.

This next photo is of the quilt that won "Best in show" and multiple other ribbons. The piecing and quilting both were outstanding...

The next photo is a detail........

This was an antique quilt......

I was peering at this one a while before it dawned on me it had a music theme - those are violins in the center!

Lots of country style motifs, 

Grecian urns, 

dancing ladies,

butterflies, birds, flowers and dragonflies all over the place, many done in wool...

This red, black and white one was an eye popper...

We saw the day out well. When I got back to my sewing room Ma Natzi had dozed off in the chair, breathing noisily through her nose, worn out from struggling. Before she woke, I squirreled away the iresistible wool I had bought in hopes of some day doing a little wool applique of my own. As I gently removed the duct tape and the fabric strip ropes she said not a word. Overcome with guilt and shame for treating her so badly, I decided to be more co-operative from now on. After all, she's only trying to protect me from myself.

Added later --- this one's for you, Smitonius & Sonata!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

A Rose for a Rose

One day recently, after delivering some give-aways to our local thrift shop and thoroughly inspecting their most recent crop of books, I was heading to the door, empty-handed, when I was stopped in my tracks by this -

 It was hanging in a cheap, sloppy old document frame, surrounded by nondescript prints in equally indifferent frames. When I could breathe again I moved in closer to be sure I wasn't hallucinating. I wasn't. I could see every perfect stitch  - and there were lots of them - hours and hours of work. Beautiful shades of pink, green and yellow, freshly picked, lying there while someone went to fetch a vase. 

Who, I wondered, had stitched this? Where was she now? Why was it abandoned here, unloved? unwatered? unswooned over? The reality of Florida is that, in addition to being touted as a vacation paradise, it is also, sometimes, referred to as God's Waiting Room. And some don't have to wait very long. Then the family has to deal with the accumulated impedimenta of their beloved departed's lifetime. Often, in desperation, having no appreciation of what it meant to the deceased, they bundle up treasure, not recognising it as such, and unceremoniously pack it off to the nearest thrift store. Which theory probably accounts for the recent Voltaire I found with a Paris publication date of 30 Mai 1878......

And the professionally framed print of a sailboat rescued another time which made a perfect gift for some friends who love sailing.

The operative word is rescue. When the OC rolls his eyes as I set off on another treasure hunt, I patiently explain to him  that I'm not collecting junk, as he thinks, but rather performing a service. Think of me, I tell him, as a rescuer of orphaned treasures. Imagine how horrified the owner of "Voltaire" would be to look casually over from the Great Beyond and see his treasured volume dumped in a box with all manner of disreputable bodice rippers and other unsuitable companions, in imminent danger of irreparable, page-tearing harm at the hands of the heedless. And now imagine his joy when I happen by, find his book, lift it reverently from that ignominious box and bring it to a safe and loving haven. I may even take it down from the shelf occasionally, open it and struggle through a page or two. Who better to help me improve my French?

And now this rose. I was smitten once, long ago, with needlepoint and made an eyeglass case. It took me forever and I decided forthwith that I didn't have the kind of patience and persistence required to further pursue it. But, I could still admire it when done by others, as I was doing now. Though the frame was unworthy of its contents, it had at least served to keep the piece clean.The greatest incentive to finish all my half-done quilting projects is that,  in the event of my untimely demise, the contents of my sewing room could meet a fate similar to the above.

 In which case there would be some haunting to be done.

A timely demise would be one where I'm not called from the Waiting Room 'til all my books are read, all my quilt projects finished and all my fabric used up. But, that's out of my hands just need to stitch and turn pages as fast as I can.

I envy people who can pick perfect gifts, tailored exactly to the recipient. Birthdays always find me floundering, clueless, inevitably late, feeling like a failure. But this piece of stitching had me hyperventilating all the way home - at last I had an idea for a perfect gift. I would make it and mail it posthaste, even though there was no birthday in sight for the recipient. Maybe it would atone for past sins.
I knew my stash would yield up the perfect fabrics to accomplish my plan.

Suitable fabrics were excavated, as expected, from the multi-layered stash. Measurements taken, borders attached, inner pillow made and stuffed, envelope backing made, closure ribbons attached, all packed and shipped and dusted. Probably the most efficiently and speedily executed project I have made in many a year!

Lesson being - if I run with the inspiration, and skip the procrastination it'll get done - who knew?

California Girl's name is Rose, so named, among other reasons, for how her ears, at birth, reminded me of the tightly folded petals of a rosebud. She developed some thorns as she grew, as roses tend to do, and we locked horns many times since I also have a few thorns of my own. You've heard of Irish tempers? 'Nuff said. We both survived though and learned a lot from each other in the process. Today we still have our disagreements but the lines of communication are open, and I'm proud of the smart, intelligent, beautiful, stubborn, articulate, funny, opinionated, determined, and - did I forget to say stubborn? woman my Rose has become.

So - happiness times three. For me - the satisfaction of rescuing a discarded treasure; for California Girl - a gift, tailor made just for her; and for the ghost of a fellow stitcher - no more weeping. The beauty created by her hands is safe and treasured. I hope she rests in peace.