Half-square triangles are cool

I got my mega 1/2-square triangle back from the quilters.  Mega because it took a long time.  And was lots of love.  And I am thrilled with the result.  It makes me very happy every time I look at it.

I love the colors – a jazzy rainbow.  I love the shapes formed by the random placement of blocks.  I have redone the quilt hanging on this wall three times now.  I think I am finally happy enough to let it hang there for a long time.

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I dream of a home that is spacious and new and simple.  But I also am nostalgic for the house we live in now.  Overflowing with books and records and fabric and funky.  This quilt  embodies that.  It is just so darn cool.

This is by far the best thing I have ever made.  I love that if you spend time and energy working on something, you get better at it.  Such a simple concept, but so rewarding.

Hello there!

I do not have a coherent post today.  I am often writing blog posts in my head – coherent, theme-based, elucidating posts.  And then I find time to write and cannot find the good stuff.  Today reflects the chaos of my mind right now – some miscellaneous thoughts…
Happy 2017!  As documented sporadically on this blog, 2016 was a challenging year for me.  The losses were (are) big. But there were some pretty big gains also – a new perfectly devilish kittencat, becoming a museum guide at the Nelson-Atkins, new friends, liking my job, learning new artsy skills.
Today I met with my trainer and pal Mandy and she said that the goal for me this year would be to become a lot stronger.  This makes me unreasonably happy.  Every month working with her I have been able to do more.  And the idea of crushing it is really motivating.  Really motivating.
I am fighting the urge to create 2017 resolutions.  I am fighting the urge to break down my life into a series of goals, create mini-steps to get each of those goals.  Entirely unachievable mini-steps, that is.  And I am fighting the urge to put all of these mini-steps in a spreadsheet and put little Xs next to each achievement.  Because it doesn’t work.
But I am trying to incorporate more of the things that make me feel happy into my every day.  I have started a Bullet Journal – and am avoiding Google Docs and Excel.
Every day I am going to work on getting stronger, meditate, blog, read for a little bit, create something, organize something, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  I won’t do all of these every day, but if I do most of them most of the days, I will be building a foundation for a happier life.
I have done a fair amount of sewing over the last month.  I made a purse, a tote, several  pouches, almost finished an advent calendar and started a baby quilt.  I didn’t get pictures of all of them, but here is what I did capture:

Fall!

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Doesn’t it seem like Fall flies by?  Definitely the best of the seasons and it always goes too quickly.  This year is no different.  We only have the kids every other weekend, so our fall weekends are precious.  When my stepson had an all-day debate tournament last weekend, we tried to get some fall fun in with my stepdaughter, but it was tough.  Every place was busy, no parking, etc., etc.  We did get this one adorable picture of her though.

I have been enjoying some sewing.  I have tried to focus on process rather than pushing to finish a lot.  I have worked on this quilt several weekends in a row – which is pushing against my desire to GET STUFF DONE.  Which is probably good for me.

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I have fluctuated between loving and hating it – but I think I am solidly in the loving it camp now.  I love all the interesting shapes the 1/2 square triangles and triangles make.  And I think I like the color palette – lots of low-volumes and neutrals and a purple-less rainbow.  I had cut several black squares, but it was too overpowering, so they were edited out.  Which means I will be several blocks short to be able to finish my quilt.  But I am ignoring that fact right now.

 

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I had to make 240 1/2-square triangles for this quilt.  Actually, 480 because I got a little baby 1/2 square triangle by sewing a 1/2-inch over from my seam for the big 1/2-squqr3 triangle.  About a third through the process, I taped guides on the machine so I didn’t have to mark my squares.  Lesson learned – going to do that from the beginning next time.

Happy Fall – I am hoping for cooler weather here so that this little guy will want to cuddle at night.

 

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Drawings and Writer’s Block

 

I want to write every day – but today is a day when my head and body are tired.  I want to climb into bed… but I am finding that pushing through is sometimes a better feeling.  Keeping this commitment to myself is important.  So, with writer’s block, I am sharing some things I have drawn recently.  I still have so much to learn, but these simple-line drawings don’t make me sad.  They show a basic competency I never thought I would get to.

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This is a picture of my stepson as a little one.  He is a very serious pirate.  He is so adorable in this picture.  I regret all the angst I had  wondering if I would fit into their lives.  I knew this was my one shot at any sort of motherhood so I kept impatiently waiting for it to click, to know their love.  It came, obviously.  But I was impatient.  img_3516

This is a picture of my stepdaughter.  She is bad ass.  She is so funny, generous, kind, and tough that I feel my heart expanding.  This was in response to some teasing from her brother.  She didn’t actually stab him.img_0010

This is Toby the kitten cat.  He is the sweetest little soul.  He gives me all of his love and takes years off my life with his cuteness.  He treats my like a mom who will totally spoil him rotten – and I will.  My mom and I were talking about the animals in our lives – the old souls and the new souls.  Annie was my old soul – Toby is a brand new fresh soul – and it is sweet to be so relied on to give him what he needs.  He is my baby. He is the antidote to losing my Annie – when I think of the hole she left, he will jump up to the surface I am nearest and demand attention and love.  And that is perfect.img_0012

This is my sweet stepdaughter getting int the basket that Toby the kitten cat had just vacated.  She is so beautiful – and in this drawing I come close to showing her sweet spirit.

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Self portrait.  Hard to draw – mentally.  Looking at my face that long was hard – so probably a good thing for me to do.  I drew this soon after I had fake eyelashes installed.  And my eyes aren’t really that green.  And my nose doesn’t exactly look like that.  But my lips are that big.

Obsession

I love purl soho too much.  The gorgeous projects, colors, materials beckon me to a life that is not mine.  Simple, pure, fresh, minimal color palette.  My life is full of complications and color and chaos.  And that is how I like it – for reals.

But I can get lost in the purl soho website.  And I have more than once.  I have banned myself from it.  NO. MORE.  Does that seem excessive?  It probably is, but lets examine the evidence…

It started with this bag…  the wraparound pocket tote.  I love the style of the big pocket on the outside.  I made this as a thank-you gift for a woman at work.

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It was a challenge.  I powered through and like what I ended up with, but it was a challenge.

And so I made a second of the same tote in the color palette of my life.  And I really, really love it.  The pattern was a lot easier the second time – and very satisfying to make.

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And now I have a sea of in-progress purl soho projects.

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Upper Left: A selfish-sewing modular block quilt

Upper Right: An advent calendar with felt pieces.  This one definitely has a deadline.

Lower Right: Letters for my niece.  This is a wonderful project – making an alphabet using purl soho’s amazing felt (you can’t get stuff like this at Joann).

Lower Left: Giant scarf.  Lots of tiny, tiny stitches.  I love the stitching and I am sure I will love the outcome – but this one probably won’t be ready until next fall.

These are just the purl soho WIPs.  Too, too many.  And so I need to play it as it lays.  No more pushing to finish lots.  I am going to do my best to enjoy my stitches, delight in each little finish, and try really darn hard not to start anything new and staying off the purl soho website.  Wish me luck.

No, really, this one

I recently posted the most dope baby boy quilt  have ever made.  In the year of baby boy quilts (5 and counting), the latest one I made has supplanted the previous one in dopeness…

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I just absolutely love how it turned out.  This quilt is for very special friends, so I used my favorite fabric.. v and co ombre (in navy, lime, mint, gray, yellow, turquoise) and tim holtz dictionary fabric.   I am down to about 7 yards of that and am getting more than a little panicky.

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I quilted the top and batting together and the tied the backing to the top and batting using Aurifil floss (I am such a name dropper !).  Tying takes so much more time than binding, but I love the effect so much more.  I think the quilts look crisper, drapes better, and seems a bit more modern.  This is probably all just in my imagination, but I like it better – you can’t stop me.

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I finished this the night before it was mailed.  So my pictures aren’t the best.  But I know I’ll eventually get a gorgeous picture with a gorgeous baby on this quilt (hint, hint).

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The quilt is a modification of a pattern that is free from purl soho.  I am addicted to purl soho.  More on that later.  If you make piece with the number of 1/2-square triangles you have to make, this pattern is a dream.  And I let go and let the blocks come together “organically”.  That was difficult for me, but the results speak for themselves, I believe.  If I were to write the pattern…

  1.  Get some awesome prints and a ton of v and co ombre
  2. Cut a bunch of squares the same size – I cut 200.*
  3. Use the squares to make 1/2-square triangle blocks s until your eyes bleed.  Or until you have a 2:1 ratio of 1/2 square triangle blocks to squares.
  4. Sew into a 10×12 grid.

* The pattern describes how to make 1/2-square triangles using 2 squares to yield 2 blocks.  I use 2 squares to yield one block because I think it is the only way for me to get my blocks square without spending my life squaring blocks.  BUT I do follow this one tip from Jenny at Missouri Star Quilt.  This method  takes a bit more time, but I think is worth it.  Now all I need is a machine that irons open the seams on 1/2-square triangles without needing me.  I’ll ask for that with my fourth wish.

I sew another seam 1/2 inch from the diagonal seam so I get a little baby block that I can use in a later project.  Because we all know I am not going to use all of those triangle scraps, no matter how much I try to convince myself.

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I started sewing some of the extra blocks together – pictured above.  To the left of the cat… yes, I know the cat is cute, but there is some sewing in the picture too…yes, to the left of the cat.

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For the backing, I got some more zoology.  I have spent a lot of hours looking for cute backings for baby boy quilts, and all that searching brought me back to zoology.  I had enough left over from projects to make a tote bag to donate to a local children’s hospital.  Next to it is another safari-type print from a quilt I made several years ago.  So adorable!

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I loved the finished project of this quilt, and so I embark on making one for myself.  I have cut, cut, cut.  Now I am working on the 1/2-square triangles.

 

Trigger (Radio Edit)

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[10/15/2016 – I got mixed feedback on this post.  I used a lot of crass language originally that I felt drove home the point I was trying to make – the pain, the shame, the visceral.  I think that language lost some readers.  And so I repost with compromise.  And since I originally posted this, Donald Trump has reiterated my message – nothing that his accusers are too ugly to predate upon.]

And god help you if you are an ugly girl

I am entirely ugly.  Feel free to stop reading, but do not give me your objections.  I have more experiences in my life than pounds of extra flesh that let me know I am ugly.  Boys at spring break, teachers, friends, family members, and total random fucking strangers have reiterated to me (unbidden) how entirely ugly I am.

I would love to tell the stories over and over again… “Who invited the fat girl?”, “Why would he grab your ass?”, “We need to walk Kate across campus so she doesn’t get raped.  See you tomorrow, Ginger”, male friends and family dissecting the hotness of a woman while I am right there, the high school calc teacher who ogled a girls’ bottom with the boys in the class and then shrugged when he saw I saw him, getting punched in the boob…  I can pull up the choking pain and embarrassment in an instant.  I can beg for you to imagine 10 steps in my extra wide shoes.  But there is no point to that. Let me just say, I am ugly.  There are not enough words or breaths in your body to convince me otherwise.

In my lifetime I have built a life –  husband, career, house, flesh –  to protect me from the pain of not being pretty.  I can completely, entirely, honestly say I don’t give a shit if you think I am ugly.

And so when I heard that video released with Donald Trump talking about grabbing pussy.  I inexplicably felt all of my ugly-girl pain triggered.  Why???  He was talking about irresistible women – I live in a different universe.

Course too pretty is also your doom
‘Cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
For the prettiest girl in the room

I have always had a complicated relationship with pretty girls.  They have this superpower they can wield with men – to be protected, to be adored, to be listened to, to have things purchased for them.  Jealousy – dark, slimy green jealousy overcomes me.  A few years ago in therapy I said, “I just wish I was pretty enough to deserve to be taken care of.”

My therapist looked at me and said that sounded like absolute bullshit.  And she was right.  Being ugly, unadored, invisible gave me space and tools to be who I am.  And I am great – I stealthily reveal my humor, my intelligence, my worth.  And I can always recognize that moment when somebody realizes I am pretty fly for a fat girl.  And I can take care of myself.

I’m not trying to give my life meaning
By demeaning you

Being invisible and being gorgeous have one thing in common.  They don’t expect much.  And at least I was mostly left alone.  That seems easier than being valued only for your looks – all other attributes ignored.

In short, it is complicated.  As we focus on getting rid of rape culture in our schools and society, there is progress in that male authority figures are no longer allowed to talk or act like sexual predators.  Definitely not the case when I was growing up.  Donald Trump’s comments have been seen as totally outside of acceptability – not just boys being boys.  Except by Rudy Giuliani, who (if you ask me) is entirely ugly  Watching male Republican leaders have to disavow gross comments from their presidential candidate cracks my flat fat ass up !!

And god help you if you are a phoenix
And you dare to rise up from the ash
A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
While you are just flying past

All of this is self-indulgent navel gazing, because if I was a minority, Mexican, disabled, or a muslim, I would be pissed that all of a sudden we find Trump’s words too much.  As a fat and ugly girl, I can only begin to empathize with how people in those groups must feel invisible and unprotected – not worthy of outrage.

Let’s end this national nightmare.

p.s. all song lyrics from the song 32 flavors by the totally fuckable Ani Difranco

p.p.s  don’t worry, my marriage is happy and healthy.  But one of the reasons I love my husband so hard is that he absolutely judges everybody by their intelligence – men, women, newts… not a perfect system, but refreshing.