Friday, April 9, 2010

The Quilt Files, Episode 18

I've been quilting for almost ten years now, and for most of that time I've been receiving the Keepsake Quilting catalog. I've bought quite a few patterns from them, and a few fabrics, although many of those patterns remain on my "to-do" shelf. I'd always eyed their KQ Challenges with interest, and a few years ago decided to try one for myself. The idea of the KQ Challenge is that you get six fat quarters, and you have to create a 30" x 30" quilt using at least four of them, with the addition of no more than two extra fabrics. I'd been hesitant before because you don't get to see the fabrics ahead of time, but finally I saw a challenge that sounded promising. I can't remember the exact title, but two things stood out: it was to contain no applique, just piecing, and the fabrics were described with something along the lines of "bright." Since I love bright colors, I thought I could stand working with that. Imagine my disappointment when my package of fabrics arrived and contained the following:

Now, the pink, turquoise, and purple fabrics were fine. The stripe, however, didn't really match the same cool palette, and the barf-green plaid was just plain hideous. I don't have a scrap of the sixth fabric, as I used it all on the back, but it was a bali-type that was mainly brownish-black, with spots of turquoise, peach, and a pink that was plummy-brown—a much warmer tone than the pink confetti fabric. I really wasn't sure what to do. Then I looked a little more closely at the pink fabric (which was actually a slightly different pattern than the sample above from the same manufacturer's line). I saw lots of what looked like ones and zeros. My little nerd mind immediately thought digitally, I bought some golden-orange fabric to pick up on the gold in the purple and pink patterns, ... and this is what I ended up with:

It was tricky, as I couldn't use applique to make the ones and zeros (and besides, I hadn't really done any applique to that point). Instead, I used the little trick with triangles: if you use them in the right proportion, you can approximate the look of curves. Take a closer look:

So you can see I managed to get four fabrics in there: the turquoise for the ones, the purple for the zeroes, the stripe for a small inside border (judiciously cut to avoid the ugly colors), and the digital pink print for the large border. If you look closely at the above photo, you'll also see that I quilted all in "1s" and "0s," using a metallic ombre thread by machine. To complete my
Digital Delight," as I called it, I translated "Keepsake Quilting Challenge," my name, and the date into binary numbers (A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, except in this case A=1, B=10, C=11, D=100. Yes, I know I'm a total nerd.*) and quilted it into the big border. The challenge judges didn't award it any prizes, but I liked the result, especially considering the sad prospects of what I started with. I'm not sure what to do with it, so it sits in my closet until I find some place or some person (maybe a computer programmer?) who can appreciate my weird mix of fabric and math.

*It reminds me of the old joke: There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Word Nerd Sez: R is for ...


There's no deep meaning behind my picking this "r" word, except that it's one of my favorite words and it was time to get back to my Word Nerd feature. Okay, I'll admit that maybe some of my tae kwon do students fall into the category of "rambunctious," and it's a much nicer word to use to describe them than "squirrelly" or "obnoxious" or "Lord, doesn't that kid ever stop?" It's also a word that aroused my curiosity, because there are no obvious clues to it's origin—no prefixes or word stubs or anything. So I headed over to my friendly Merriam-Webster site:

rambunctious: marked by uncontrollable exuberance; unruly.

Well, "uncontrollable exuberance" sure describes one of my regular students, although he's so good-natured I couldn't really describe him as unruly. "Rambunctious" is a great word to describe a lot of kids, though. (Especially since most of them don't understand what you mean when you say it, heheheh.) Anyway, let's get to the interesting part, the etymology.

rambunctious—Date: 1830; probably alteration of rumbustious (Oh, goody! An etymological scavenger hunt!)

rumbustious—Date: 1778; alteration of robustious (yippee! more definitions to chase!)

robustious—Date: c. 1548: robust; vigorous in a rough or unrefined way; boisterous (Aha! Now we come to the point!)

robust—having or showing vigor or strength, from the Latin robustus, oaken or strong, taken from the Latin robur, oak.

Now that's a path I never would have imagined for this word. It started with Latin, but altered its sound to become a word that sounds more uncontrollably exuberant than the original. Robustious sounds all Latin and stuffy (maybe one of those made-up names from Life of Brian); rambunctious sounds stubborn (like a ram) and hard to chase. Kind of like its definition. It's much more fun chasing rambunctious word origins, however, and making interesting discoveries like this one.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Photo of the Week--4/5/10

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, is widely considered one of the world's most beautiful architectural sites, and so we thought we shouldn't let any pigeons, nay, not even one single white one, mar the nearby streets with its presence. Along comes Boy, to rid this UNESCO World Heritage Site of unsightly skyrats! Okay, maybe the one in this photo looks more like a white dove, but it's still a pigeon. It still needs to be terrorized, and we obliged.