Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Here's hoping this one works.

Dear Washable Markers,

Hi. We met at my PIC's house a couple of months ago. I was the one with the polka-dotted baby quilt who kind of didn't want to meet you, and ended up using you to draw the lines on the quilt so I could sew my quilting lines straight. Remember me? Yeah. I just wanted to say I'm sorry if I seemed stand-offish that day. I think I owe you an explanation for my cool exterior.

I'm sure you've met women like me before -- women who've been in relationships with other marking tools and then show up to a new tool with an "attitude" or whatever. Well, it's not you or anything -- I mean, you say right on your package that I can trust you -- it's just that I've had relationships with lots of other marking tools, and they have been challenging. Really, really challenging.

I know some tools get jealous when women talk about their exes, but I think without a frank talk about what went wrong and what went right, we're doomed to failure. So, given that you seem like you care about winning, I'm gonna give you the highlights. I think we might then be able to move ahead with a shared sense of understanding and purpose. Don't you think? I do.

So. OK. This guy:

This guy was really sharp, and I had lots of hope for the relationship because of that. But turns out sharp isn't everything. I tried so hard to make it work with him, but it was just a mess. Literally, a dirty, smudgy mess. He eventually ran out of lead. I ran out of patience. And I moved on. I don't want a mess. So sue me.

These guys:

I was with these guys in the early days. You know the kind: All enthusiastic in the beginning, trotting out all the fun colors, talking about how soft and versatile they are. Yeah. Well. They disappear. They disappear, and then when you go back to them, they make all these promises to stick around again. And guess what? They fucking disappear again. They are the reason Quiltie and I are having trouble to this day. Thanks a lot, Chacopel Fine. Thanks, but no thanks.

And then there was this one:

This one really broke my heart. Hera was her name. Some people I really trust set me up with her and gave her glowing reviews. "She's incredibly tidy -- no mess at all -- and she sticks around," they said. Only problem was, I couldn't see her. We made marks together, and yet, try as I might, it was such a struggle to be at the right angle, in the right light. I would've had to get reading glasses or something to make it work. I suppose I was simply too old for her. Sad, really. She was perfectly lovely, and I know she'll make someone else very, very happy.

So, I'm giving you a try, Washable Markers. I can certainly go without marking tools and free-hand my quilting; I started this latest baby quilt exactly that way, in fact. But I think having a nice, effective marking tool to help guide me through these circles will be a nice thing.

Just don't fuck me over by not washing out.

(If you don't wash out, mister, there will be hell to pay, I assure you.)


Dr. B.

Friday, February 22, 2008

F The Machine

I'm wandering around the living room, staring at the baby quilt spread out on the floor. I'm just about to start sticking safety pins in it to get it ready for machine-quilting.

I say to my Sidekick, who is innocently sitting on the couch, "Hey, honey. I think I'm gonna hand-quilt the baby quilt." (Yes. You read that right. Hand-quilt.)

My Sidekick looks up from what he's doing, thinks for a moment, then responds in a tone that I'd describe as concerned, yet intrigued. Kind of how I imagine he'd react if I told him I was going to tile our kitchen with diamonds. "Why? "

"I think it'll look better than if I machine-quilt it."

"Sure." This he says in a very supportive, but still concerned way.

"It will. I can't hand-tie it like Ashley said to do. I'm too scared the baby will choke on the ties."

"We don't want that."

"And I think I want to quilt it with circles or swirlies like I did with my SIL's heating pad cover."

"That did look good."

"So, good idea, right?"

He nods silently and looks off into space for a moment. I figure he's probably thinking about all the good ideas I've ever had, how amazing they've all been, and how in awe he is of me and my good ideas. Then, he looks at me with a twinkle in his eye and asks, "When's the baby due?"

He was thinking of all my good ideas, alright -- every last one that took every last minute of exactly twelve hundred years.

And with that, the deal was sealed.

I am a multi-problemed individual.

Since the baby is due well before February of 3208, I'd ask that you wish me luck in this endeavor.

Note: For those not familiar, the (cleaned-up) title of this post comes from this movie, the source of about half of what we say on any given day around here. The title is not, as it might appear, a direct attack on my fancy sewing machine. I love you, fancy sewing machine.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Of borders and backings

Quilt top (on over-sized batting) you've seen before.

ME (on the phone with my Partner-In-Crime): I finished the quilt top for that baby quilt.
PIC: That's so exciting!
ME: Now I just have to figure out how to finish the whole thing.
PIC: That is not at all exciting.
ME: I know, right?
PIC: Right.
ME: Oh, shit. I think I have to make borders for it.
PIC: Why?
ME: Otherwise the blocks will just run right into the edge, and it'll look fucked up. And I think you're supposed to do it for stability maybe, too. I don't know.
PIC: What does the pattern say?
ME: There is no pattern, really. I just got the Rail Fence block pattern from this site that has a million quilt block patterns on it.
PIC: Hmm.
ME: And I wasn't really thinking about the borders part.
PIC: I don't know what to tell you.
ME: At first I was thinking I could just do the birthing thing and be done with it, like I did with that last baby quilt.

Finished baby quilt you've never seen before.

PIC: That looked really good. Do that.
ME: That was different, though. That was just two pieces of fabric stuck together, and this is a bunch of pieced blocks. I don't think it'll look right if I just sew the back to it.
PIC: But it would be quicker.
ME: Yes. It would. But--
PIC: You know what I'd do.
ME: Grrrr.

As you might imagine, I tried approximately twenty-nine solutions to this "finishing" dilemma, starting with trying to find the right fabric for the back of the quilt. I bought an orange-colored fabric and immediately hated it (too slippery), ordered an espresso-colored fabric (not slippery, but way too dark for a baby quilt), bought yet another fabric -- flannel this time ("too thin for quilts," said the Internet Genius Pool. Note: While I am very grateful for the IGP, I wish they'd been with me at the store. Woulda been nice, IGP, is all I'm saying).

I almost gave up at this point. Really. Almost.

But I kept at it.

I took lots of deep breaths and tried a different approach. Instead of focusing on the back of the quilt, which I just couldn't figure out, I tried to figure out the borders for the front.

OK. Now, this would be cute! The ruler is really cute for a kid -- kids like numbers, right? -- and the orange of the "64" will bring out the orange in the quilt! Yay!

Oh. Wait. That actually looks like shit.

ME (on the phone again. staring at the quilt): Dude. I cannot figure this out.
PIC: You'll figure it out. And it'll look great.
ME: Why are you mocking me? I am so going to ruin this whole thing.
PIC: You are not. Don't be ridiculous.
ME: You don't know. I could totally ruin all this work.
PIC: Good lord, lady.
ME: Grrrr.

My PIC is right about quite a few things in life. She is very clear that: (1) when stressed out, always consider directing the anger outward not inward ("Why suffer more?"), (2) when feeling twitchy, strongly consider using pharmaceuticals ("Why suffer more?"), and (3) when thinking you're going to ruin something, remember that you're not actually going to ruin anything ("It's crafting.").

I did, eventually, figure it out.

From each of the fabrics, I cut long strips that, when finished, would each be half the width of the strips in the main body of the quilt (finished strip widths were 2" in the blocks and 1" in the border).

And then -- riding the high of what appeared to be a border-making success -- I took that slippery orange fabric that I'd originally hated and birthed that quilt like no quilt had ever been birthed before.

And what do you know? I haven't ruined it yet.

(Please note: I still have to machine-quilt it. Still plenty of time for ruining. Er, I mean, directing my rage outward and taking some tranquilizers.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It all adds up.

I have some theories about relationships (and by some, I -- of course -- mean many). Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you, I take this relationship shit seriously. For real.

So today, on a day that's traditionally more mush than pragmatism, I'm gonna bring it: one of the ideas that I hold sacred about relationships. It's not mushy. In fact, it's the opposite of mushy. It's actually really clear. And I'm gonna illustrate my points by using sewing examples. Because I am A NERD!

So, here's something I hear people say all the time: "It was just a little thing, I don't know why we were even fighting about it. I should just let it go." And then they go on to talk themselves out of being upset about the parking spot or the remote control or the tape on the gift wrap.

I never hear anyone say: "It was just a little thing, I don't know why we were gushing over it so much or why it made us so happy," and then talk themselves out of being pleased about a smile or a thoughtful question or a made bed. Never. Happens.

There are at least two ways to make sense of this, it seems to me.

1. The obvious: Lovely things don’t capture as much attention as not-so-lovely things do. OK. Yes, people are short on time, and they have to pick and choose what they pay attention to. Sure. But noticing only the crap things? Not the smartest time-saver, frankly, what with the fighting and the bickering and the debating and what not. (The what-not? Biggest time sink ever.)

2. The not-as-obvious: The little things are meaningful. They just are. I really believe that they're kind of everything. Whether they're little things that go against our preferences and values (and therefore irritate us), or little things that make our life easier or make us feel safe or pleased (and usually go unnoticed), all those little things add up to make a relationship what it is. I mean, really, what else is there? (Yes. Sure. The big things. But how often do the big things come up really? If we're lucky, not as often as the little things, for sure, and even the big things are held together by little things.)

So, to be clear: I stand proudly in the I Will Sweat the Small Stuff, Thank You Very Much camp. And I think it's absolutely critical to sweat it all with care and love.

Which brings us to the sewing.

From the Department of All Things Duh and On-the-Nose:

In sewing, all the little (boring) things you do add up: cutting the fabric, sewing the seam allowances, pressing the seams, lining seams up with one another. Oh, the list goes on. Paying close attention and doing all those little things carefully and thoughtfully can be a slog at times. But all of it matters.

Here you'll see I cut some strips of fabric. I sewed them together, and it's a block.

Just a block of three strips sewn together. Fine. Lovely. Whatever.

But here's what never ceases to amaze me (and also does a pretty good job of illustrating my point): If you attend to all the tiny cutting/sewing/pressing details with great care and thoughtfulness, unexpectedly glorious things can happen when you step back and take a look.

Holy shit. It all adds up. Even the tiny moments where it isn't perfect, where seams didn't line up or squares aren't square, are overshadowed by the bigger picture -- a project that was obviously cared for at the level of the little things. All the saying thank you and phone calls from the grocery store and sharing a funny moment from work and the genuinely-asked how are you's? Well, when you step back and take a look, you've got yourself a lovely relationship, sir.

Here's wishing you millions of lovely little things in all your relationships!

(Consider yourself lucky you got the "little things in relationships" post, and not the one where I discuss how this

is also this

from another perspective.

I will take the romance out of anything. I tell you what.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh, holy craps.

So, how behind is too behind? I beg of you. Do tell.

I could just pick right up as though it hasn't been weeks since my last post. I could just jump right in. But that wouldn't be right.

I am sorry. The blogging has gotten away from me a bit.

My father is speculating that I've lost interest (not the case). My mother, I think, is still sure I've been up to something (I assure you I haven't). It's just gotten away from me. It happens, and I'm sorry.

While I've been away, two very kind people -- Rani and my beloved Ashley pointed to me as someone who makes their day, and that really means a lot to me. Really. Their kind words and appreciation served to give me a little extra push to get back on the blog horse. So, thank you for that.

As a complete aside (and maybe for some nice comic relief), while walking to my office the other day, I totally fell down. My foot didn't make it all the way onto the curb, and I just went down -- stiff as a board, down like a domino I went. I was wearing such a cute outfit, too -- stockings and heels and everything.

The crazy part about this fall is that I somehow managed to land on my hands in a push-up-style position and barely avoid a face-plant, kind of like that move that gymnasts do in their floor routines where they fall forward on purpose. I'm telling myself it looked really kick-ass and Mission Impossible with my face just missing the concrete sidewalk by an inch. (In reality, however, my shoe went flying into the street and the contents of my purse scattered all across the sidewalk, and I don't think there was anything kick-ass about it.)

The very best part, though? You know I'm a psychologist, right? Well, the very best part was when I was flat on my stomach on the sidewalk, and I heard a very concerned guy say, "Oh my God! Are you alright?", and when I looked up, it was the client I was about to see. Good times. I imagine later with his friends he was all, "Dude, my therapist totally fell flat on her face today right before our session. I went over to make sure she was OK, and then I asked her how her trip was. It was hilarious. She totally looked all Mission Impossible, though, the way she hit the ground. Real athletic, yet graceful. She's a superhero."

What? He prolly said exactly that.

I've missed you. I'll try to be better.