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.

New storage

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This was my fabric storage.  Lovely and folded.  It looked like this twice in the last year.  The open storage is perfect for a Type A.  When it comes to storage, I am so not type A.

In addition to the general failings of open storage, this shelf needed to have that piece of wood between it and the wall to not sway back and forth.

What is a girl to do?  Ikea.  Ikea is the best and the worst.  So inexpensive.  And my husband put together two of these labor-intensive cabinets.  And ta-da !

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I mean, right?  Just love this part of mu atelier now !  A servicable cutting table, lots of scrap storage, and room to display a mini quilt collection as I build it.  Where is the fabric?  There are two more cabinets coming with lots of those baskets so I can put the fabric in there without folding it all to line up.  More pictures and more squeeing later.

It is such a dream to have a room all to myself for sewing, and this beautiful storage makes this even more wonderful.

A Baby Quilt Update

I currently am working on the most dope baby quilt I have ever made.  Not kidding – truly the greatest.  But because that baby quilt is secret sewing, here are some pictures of some other baby quilts I have wrapped up quickly.  They are pretty ok…

img_3434This was made based on a pattern in wanderlust quilts.  I modified and simplified it a bit so there weren’t any Y-seams.  I used V and Co. Ombre.  Something about the ombres, especially the yellow and turquoise make it look light the quilt is lit from within.  I used Kona Medium Gray… and my favorite baby boy quilt back fabric of the season, this Zoology print..

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I loved giving this quilt.  The mom recipient is one of my favorite people.  And she really loved the quilt.

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Next up is a quilt made for a friend who was going to be surprised by the gender.  When I ask what colors a nursery is going to be decorated, the trend is going to get very specific answers.  Which I would be the EXACT SAME if I was decorating a nursery.  But as a quiltmaker, I yearn for free color  and artistic control.  So when this mom said, “um, I don’t know, green?” I was thrilled.  And wowzer did I get crazy with the green.  I had a lot of fun with this quilt.

 

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How sweet is that?  Love all of those greens – and I do think it will be equally cheerful for a boy and girl.  This has become my favorite baby quilt pattern.  It is on-point 5-in squares and tied.  The tieing and no binding make the quilts lay flatter and look cleaner.

I backed this quilt with a fun all-over numbers green print.

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I have made 4 boy quilts in a row, so I was ready for a girl quilt.  So I used the same pattern and went crazy with the girly flowery prints.

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Oh my gosh, that quilt is my jam !!  I still have to tie it, but then it will go to Project Linus.  I think it will make a small girl and a family happy.  With all those beautiful blooms, how couldn’t it?

Dealing With Loss

IMG_2002When I sit down to write I get stuck.  This year has been hard.  So much loss.  Too much loss.   The latest being of my beloved Annie.  My dad and I drove a sweet puppy home a little over 14 years ago.  She was tiny and the sweetest little soul I have ever met.

She became my love, my family, my friend, my baby.  She stuck by me (literally) everyday.  So many stories of her that I need to write down before they are gone.  But it feels too raw.  Thinking of her face, even looking at a photo of her creates a stabbing feeling in my head and my stomach.  That feeling that she is just gone. forever.

And so I want to get back to blogging.  But I need a pass to not write about the loss.  It feels like I am being untrue.  But it is the opposite.  I can only be true to my sanity to pause from this rawness.

So blogging on some really shallow things, mostly quilting, is forthcoming.

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And then there is this little guy.  His name is Toby. He is new to our home and is giving me all of his joy and love in exchange for kisses and tears and cuddles.  He is giving me permission to breathe and smile.  He talks to me all the time.  When he gets scared he runs to me.  At night, he sleeps on my pillow and purrs until I fall asleep.  He is full of discovery – he spent hours on Saturday jumping in and out of a basket – I think he thought he was invisible when he was in the basket and was so proud of himself for discovering this.  When he is excited, he runs so fast his back legs get out of synch. He has no idea how cute he is.  He imagines himself a great hunter as he drags his stick and feather toy across the house.

I can’t imagine a better medicine for my sadness.

I love you Annie.  I will always love you.  And I know that me being ok was always the most important thing to you.  I am ok.  I promise.