August 23, 2009 @ 12:39 pm | Filed under: Handcrafts
Technically, this isn’t a quilting project at all because I didn’t do any quilting and didn’t use batting. It’s just a pieced quilt top backed with fleece.
We adore it.
I had some Moda Objects of Desire charm packs and used everything except the prints with shoes on them. Found some green fleece that matches the green prints exactly: joy!
The charm pack pieces are 5″ square. I pieced them into nine-patches (the girls loved helping with that part) and assembled the blocks into a 4 block x 5 block rectangle. No binding, just sewed the quilt top and the fleece together right sides facing, turned it right-side-out, and sewed up the little opening. The whole project took me, let’s see, about four baby naps plus maybe another three hours in small chunks of time.
We wanted a light but snuggly blanket for the living-room couch. I didn’t want it to be as heavy as a real quilt, so that’s why I skipped the batting, and skipping the batting meant I didn’t have to fuss with quilting stitches. I was going to back it with flannel—I’ve done that for a few baby blankets here and there, and it’s a nice weight, but I wasn’t sure how it would work on a larger scale. But then at the fabric store, Rose and I stumbled upon this fleece in a sale rack, and it matched so perfectly we couldn’t resist. And the cotton quilt top plus the fleece backing turns out to be the PERFECT weight and loft to cuddle up under on our cool mornings and nights. The air trapped between the two layers makes it cushiony and cozy and completely irresistible.
Just ask Rilla. If you can find her.
August 22, 2009 @ 6:41 am | Filed under: Links
Flagging a few things for Jane (and anyone else who’s interested):
August 21, 2009 @ 12:28 pm | Filed under: Family
Rilla: “I have an idea! Let’s play X-Men.”
Me: “Okay, Starfire!”
Her face falls. “Oh, Mommy,” she quivers, utterly crestfallen, “that’s my Teen Titans name.”
August 20, 2009 @ 6:36 pm | Filed under: Books
I discovered L. M. Montgomery around the age of eleven while visiting my cousins in South Georgia. I still remember kneeling on the floor before a shelf full of books belonging to my much-admired cousin Carla, four years my senior. Aunt Ann said these were books Carla had outgrown and I could have any of them I liked for keeps, and only now does it occur to me that I might have skipped back to Colorado with one of Carla’s treasures in my suitcase—because who ever outgrows Anne of Green Gables? Oh, Carla, I’m so sorry: I owe you a copy!
(But not that copy: I still have it, but it lost its cover about a decade ago. It was the only cover that ever got Anne exactly right. I have searched for the image on Google, to no avail.)
That book, Carla’s book, was the beginning of something big for me. It’s like this: at eleven years old, a girl is like a loom loosely threaded with a pliable warp, waiting for the weft of life to come along and transform those rows of hanging, separate threads into one whole unified and unique piece of fabric. Anne Shirley was a shuttle full of the most wonderful thread, luminous yet strong, resiliant, durable; and she darted back and forth across the warp like something dancing. I read the first three chapters of the book kneeling there before the little cabinet in the quiet, elegant room just off my aunt and uncle’s kitchen, and when I got up, tucking the book under my arm, a few inches of the fabric of my life had been woven, just like that.
Anne spoke of kindred spirits and I understood her at once, and saw quite clearly that she and I were kindred spirits, for all she was a fictional character. And of course that is how every girl who loves those books feels about Anne. We relate to this complicated girl full of quirks that aren’t really quirks at all, because we have them ourselves: her struggle to express big ideas in words that were never quite big enough to hold them despite their numerous syllables; her propensity for making stupid mistakes; her yearning to love and be loved; her attachment to place and her obsession with naming things, especially places, but trees and lakes and houseplants as well; her fierce loyalty, particularly to her own visions—a sometimes dreadful loyalty, clung to past reason, as when she coldly snubs Gilbert Blythe after he rescues her from drowning.
Well, there she was, my bosom friend, Anne Shirley, and when I returned home, I rode my bike all over our corner of Aurora, Colorado, hunting for more Anne stories in the various branches of our public library system. (Oh, those heady days when kids could ride their bikes all over town without even the safety net of a cell phone—or a bike helmet, for that matter. Mom, Dad, how did you manage it without going crazy?) It took me years to track down the entire Anne Shirley series. I was a graduate student before I found Rilla of Ingleside, which may be my favorite Anne book save only Green Gables itself. No, wait, House of Dreams is my favorite. I remember reading The Road to Yesterday long before I located Anne of Ingleside or Rainbow Valley—I think it’s Road to Yesterday, and not one of the Chronicles of Avonlea collections, that contains the short story about the twins whose widowed mother a grown-up-and-happily-married-yet-still-irrepressibly-matchmaking Anne helps reunite with the beau she parted from in anger long before falling in love with the twins’ father. I loved that story not only because it was satisfyingly romantic, but because it gave me a glimpse of Mrs. Blythe, wife and mother but still my Anne. Actually she was much more my Anne than the anxious, fretful creature who appears for a few chapters in Ingleside, convinced beyond reason that Gilbert has a thing for a girl he knew in college. Seriously, Anne? Or rather, Lucy Maud. Surely you weren’t so hard up for plot twists that you had to take an otherwise delightful book in that out-of-character direction. Insecurity was never Anne’s problem.
But I digress. I didn’t come here to talk about Anne at all, believe it or not. It was Jane I was thinking of, Jane of Lantern Hill—the character who gave my oldest daughter her name as an alias when I started this blog four and a half years ago. And now I’ve gone on about Anne so long that Jane will have to wait until tomorrow. To be continued?
August 19, 2009 @ 8:03 pm | Filed under: Books
So I was all set to write a post about Jane of Lantern Hill, something I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, years; but I’m 700 words in and still haven’t gotten past Anne of Green Gables. Hmm. This could take a while. There comes a point when you realize you’ve swum out farther than you meant and either you have to turn around and head back to shore, or keep on going across the whole ocean. I have an ocean of things to say about L.M. Montgomery’s books, and I never get around to saying them. During grad school I went on a quest to acquire every single Montgomery novel or story collection in print. Did it, too, which is why I had to live on ramen noodles for two years. She is part of a small cadre of authors whose bodies of work I reread every two or three years: Alcott, Lovelace, L’Engle, Montgomery. Those are my big four. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone important. Not Austen; I don’t reread her all at once: with her it’s a book or two spread out through the year. I do return to Burnett almost every year, but only The Secret Garden. Tolkien is a twice-a-decade-or-thereabouts treat; ditto Lewis. Dickens, maybe one book a year, but it takes a month.
Anyway. The Montgomery epic post is in drafts now, along with 238 other unfinished pieces. Yes, really. I have 239 posts in drafts. Jiminy crickets. That’s a post a day for eight months, if I were to finish them. I wonder what they all are. I’m scrolling down the list and I see most of them are called No Title, because I usually think of titles last. There’s one called: Fewer Dishes, —the comma is part of the title, but there’s nothing after it. Where was I going with that? Fewer Dishes, More what? Pints of Ice Cream?
This post, too, is a No Title post so far. Also, apparently, a No Subject post. And a No Point post. I can probably safely promise No Conclusion as well. I have No Idea where I’m going with this.
I also have No Idea which book I’m going to read next. Yes, that again. Scott finds me staring at a stack of books as tall as our three-year-old, and I wail: “They all look so good. I don’t know what to do.”
“Here’s an idea,” he deadpans. “Open one up and start reading.”
Easy for him to say. I do this dance: I should read the library books first; they’ll be due soon. No, wait. I should read review copies first, because they were sent to me and it seems considerate to tackle them in a timely manner. No, wait! I should start with the books that have been waiting the longest. Like The Diamond Age: how embarrassing; I bought it right after Comic-Con 2008 and fully intended to read it immediately, and then Comic-Con 2009 rolled around and there it was still in the pile. I actually liberated it from the pile this week, put it in my bag on our way to the YMCA, intending to read it during Rose’s gymnastics class—but get this: I rode the exercise bike instead. Instead of reading! What’s happening to me?
Diamond Age is still in my bag, dusty with cracker crumbs.
I’m actually kind of in the mood to reread Jane of Lantern Hill.
Then maybe I could finally finish that post, aka Draft #239.
Hey, anybody else read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate yet? Man, I really need a book club.
August 18, 2009 @ 8:43 am | Filed under: Friends
Mary Ellen Barrett’s letter about the loss of her sweet son, Ryan, has been posted in several places, but in case you missed it, here’s a link to Alice’s blog.
Like so many others, I am still reeling over the news of Ryan’s death. Mary Ellen is a dear online friend and a member of my quilting group. I’d heard so much about Ryan over the years that I really felt as if I knew him. The passage about Ryan in Alice Gunther’s Haystack Full of Needles is, in my opinion, the most moving part of an incredibly moving book.
I remember when my friend Mary Ellen first took her children out of school, including her autistic son, Ryan. One afternoon, as we stood chatting in my backyard after a lively gathering, she looked over at her son playing ball with the other boys and smiled. “You know,” she said, “all the special education in the world cannot match coming here and just being one of the guys.”
I know those other children are missing Ryan now, and my heart grieves for the Barrett family and all their Long Island friends.
Me: Are you ready for breakfast, honey?
Me: What would you like?
Rilla: Pizza crust.
August 17, 2009 @ 7:58 am | Filed under: Photos