Friday, October 3, 2008

The Quilt Files, Family Edition

I first started quilting about eight years ago, after having seen my (maternal) grandma do it for the past twenty or so. It seemed only natural to try it myself; I like to sew, and making a quilt means I get to play with color and patterns that I would never be able to wear myself. (Even better, I don't have to worry about fit, or put in any zippers!) So my grandma helped me get started; after a couple years, my mom joined in as well. She just got too jealous of all the pretty fabrics we were working with, and started quilting as an excuse to buy some of her own.

So a few weeks ago my mom called and asked if I wanted to display a quilt at the Ypsilanti Historical Society's annual quilt show, along with her and Grandma. I thought, why not? She said they would submit their first quilts, and my first quilt was almost finished ... so I buckled down, finished the hand quilting on that sucker in time for the show, and voila! Our entries look like this:

Grandma's "Star Spin" pattern is featured on the table in the middle; she finished this first quilt around 1988, after she'd been retired from teaching for a few years. She has since made quilts for each of her 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren; I inherited the Star Spin, since I got married before she began quilting. My mom's quilt is the one to the left, with the dark blue borders. It's a fairly simple pattern, just squares and posts, but you can tell she has an eye for color. Mine is the log cabin pattern on on the right with the turquoise borders. Log Cabin is also quite easy to do, although you can arrange the squares in many different ways to make interesting patterns. It was the first quilt project I ever started, but the most recent I've finished, due to the hand quilting taking so long. (Okay, due to me being lazy about the hand quilting.)

I'll get into the details of the Log Cabin in another episode of the Quilt Files, once it's back from the show and I can get more pictures of it. In the meantime, if you're ever in the Ypsilanti era, you can check out our quilts—plus dozens more, including some incredible handmade ones from the 19th century and some amazing machine quilting work—at the Ypsilanti Historical Society through October 12.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Change is afoot!

No, I'm not going to be talking about politics. I mean, the election is historic and important and all that, but if you're anything like me, you're on political overload. Too many ads, political talking heads, and unimportant "stories" produced by the endless news cycle. (I liked Jon Stewart's observation that the media covering the election are like six year olds playing soccer. "Who's got the ball! Who's got the ball! Sarah Palin's got the ball! Let's chase her!")

No, I'm going to take a moment to talk about my feet, and how they're mourning the end of summer. I know just last week I blogged about how I love fall and the cooler weather, but my feet think it's gone too far. I have an expression when it comes to my lower extremitites: Happy Naked Feet. I love going barefoot. My feet are extra wide, and kind of flat, so it's never been easy to find shoes that are entirely comfortable. By now my baby toes look rather twisted and monstrous after all these years being squished up against the others. I'm sure they've been broken a couple of times (due to my natural grace), and the right one points in the wrong direction. I have to tape it every time I train, or I can easily dislocate it by making a wrong turn.

Then there's the whole sock thing. Sure, socks are warm and soft and keep my toes from turning white, but they never ever fit. It's frustrating. Because of my wide, large feet, I wear a size 9½ shoe. (Honestly, I should be at least 5'10" with my huge feet, but I barely hit 5'6".) Twenty years ago, I had to buy fancy brands to get that size, but women's shoe manufacturers realized that women's feet are getting larger and now I can find a 9½ anywhere I shop. Unfortunately, sock manufacturers haven't kept up at all. Their "9 to 11" sock size does not correspond to those shoe sizes. I put them on my feet, and the sock heel always stops short of my heel. I have to stretch the sock to fit, so it feels tight on my toes and wears out quickly. So I (and, I assume, many other women) really need a larger sock size. Good luck finding it, because I can't—unless I turn to "Queen Size" socks, which end up bagging around my ankles because my legs are relatively small, at least compared to my gargantuan feet.

So although I'd rather run around outside in sandals, letting my toes hang free, the changing weather means my Happy Naked Feet must become Sad Sock-Clad Feet. Luckily they can still be happy on the taekwondo training floor—at least, until winter sets in and the freezing temps turn my toes white. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hello, Goodbye!

I attended a writers' conference this past weekend. Now I've been to quite a few of these, and I can leave feeling one of two ways: slightly disappointed and discouraged, because I realize I've heard editors say all these things before and I'm still not published; or energized and inspired, because I've heard something new and exciting and I want to get back to work.

This past weekend was one of the latter kind. So this is a short post because I need to get back to some real writing!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Photo of the Week--9/22/08

I think I've mentioned I have a weakness for beautiful buildings set against clear blue skies.... In February 2000 we visited Tunisia, the North African country located between Algeria and Libya. The country has Roman ruins (Carthage is in Tunisia, although we didn't visit the city), Mediterranean beaches, salt lakes and the Sahara, and holy cities and mosques. This photo is of the rabat of the Grand Mosque of Kairouan. Kairouan is the fourth-holiest city in Islam (behind Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem), where the Muslim religion found its first foothold in Africa. This photo is of the Mosque's rabat, from which they call people to worship. In this photo you can't see how hugely tall the building is, but I couldn't resist looking up to photograph the way the clouds just seemed to stream out of the building. There's a quality to Mediterranean skies that produces the most beautiful blues, and with the sunlight reflecting off the buildings ... sigh. It's a warmth and contrast I don't often see at home, especially not in the winter.