Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oh, and yodeling. Forgot the yodeling.

Those of you on Facebook already know about this to some degree, but remember how just yesterday I was saying that I had that big knot showing on my Kindle cover where I had to move the button, and that maybe I'd try to hide it with some applique, but that we all know how that went before so I probably better not?

I went ahead and did it.

I thought a red heart would look kind of cool on all the black and cream fabrics, but I was pretty sure there was no way I was going to be able to make a heart that didn't end up looking like...well, a heart. A squishy organ yanked from the chest cavity of some small, innocent creature. No way could I make an actual, symmetrical valentine-type heart. That's obviously for the advanced only, veteran stitchers with their years of elf-organ hearts long behind them. I mean, hearts have curves and points, and all I've managed are some blobby circles.

But I am nothing if not reckless when it comes to sewing, so I got out my starch and my little iron and prepared for the mayhem.

Only there wasn't any.

It came out beautifully. Curves all curvy. Points all pointy. Sewed it right on. It looks awesome.

So, if I can do that, I'm pretty sure that tomorrow I can paper piece a king size quilt with my eyes closed while hopping on one foot and dodging mudballs being flung at me by a horde of angry flamenco dancers. Because that is the next step, right?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A ham? For me?

I am such a sucker for a gift. I just always feel so amazed whenever somebody gives me something, and I tend to go a little overboard in my reactions. It's not like I was deprived as a child or anything. But something about it always makes me cry and get all sentimental, and then I have to spend weeks proving that I'm not really like that all the time.

This weekend I got a big box in the mail with the name of one of my QH editors on the return address, and I thought maybe I was getting some comp issues of the latest magazine. But when I opened the box, I found these:

Three fat quarter bundles, and a little note that read, "Because we love you! Melissa and Jake."

I mean I'm nuts enough that I would get weepy if somebody gave me, I don't know, a ham or a slide ruler. But fabric? This much fabric? The children were concerned, and David said, "What? Is there something wrong with it?"

So of course, I emailed them a long, gushy note with lots of "you've done so much for me" and "I'll never be able to thank you enough," and they were all, "Dude. Shut up. It's fabric." But that's okay. Because it's important for the people I work with and for to know that I am mentally and emotionally defective. It will give them a head start in fending me off when I try to come after them with homemade cakes and pot pies.

In other news, I finished George's backing, but somehow took both it and my design wall down before I photographed it, and I am way too lazy to put it all back up. I finished the Kindle cover my friend commissioned for her sister's birthday, but managed to fuck up the placement of the button. Because the stitching for the button is hidden between layers, I had to cut it off and sew it back on through the layers, leaving a big knot of stitches now exposed on the inside cover. I'm going to try to cover it up with applique, maybe a heart, but remember the last time I tried to cover up a mistake with some applique?

It was not good. So maybe I should just save us all the anguish and start over.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

George's got back

I am remembering once again why I dislike making quilt backings so very, very much. I had several pieces of George's batiks left over and I figured out that I could cut them into the perfect size for flying geese that would be exactly the width of two of my HST blocks. Making the geese was the easy part.

I decided that there would be a vertical row of the flying geese, offset to the right of center, and a horizontal row of the leftover HSTs, placed below center, and the rest just the same white Kona cotton I used in the HST blocks. This involved math. Math, and cutting several hundred yards of fabric into pieces just the right size. I have not yet figured out a good way to cut a length of yardage that must end up being longer than my ruler or my cutting table, and the best I have come up with so far is to incrementally stretch it across the ruler until I have roughly the length I need, plus a few extra feet for safety, and then tear it. My sister's promise that a good fabric will tear straight along the grain line seems to be pretty much true, and so I've been able to get rough estimates of what I actually need, but as I said, I add extra just in case, and then after I sew it there's several inches more on one piece than the other. Do I tear that? It's still longer than the cutting table. Do I absolutely have to make the back perfectly square? Shouldn't I get extra points from the longarmer since the back is actually twice as big as the front even if there are no straight lines at the edges?

And of course I calculated that I would need approximately 867 yards of the Kona, and it turns out I actually need 873. I wonder if I could by stock in Robert Kaufman Fabrics? They could at least send me a coupon or something, for singlehandedly keeping them in business.

Harper feels that her quilt needs have been ignored long enough, and I have been charged with making both a Halloween quilt and a Christmas quilt. I had an old Halloween-themed jelly roll lying about, and I bought that Christmas layer cake in Nashville, so it will be impossible to claim fabric poverty. A friend wants me to make her a Kindle cover, and I need to make a gift for Devon's former daycare provider. I want to make something for David's brother and sister-in-law, for their hospitality when we were in Kentucky, plus I have long had plans for quilts for each of them, plus ones for each of their daughters. I have a quilt for Devon that I started quilting myself that needs to be finished. I decided that my Plane Ticket Benefactor's quilt is much too small, and I'm trying to figure out how to save it. I am rich in projects and poor in time. Which is better than the other way around, I suppose.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Maybe I should just call it George

Last week, when Devon returned to daycare after the holiday weekend and our trip to Kentucky, her daycare provider informed me that she was closing her childcare business. This put me on a mad dash to find alternate care, all of which would be much more expensive than our dear Miss Aleace was charging. Plus payments on the new car start this month, and I was starting to get that panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach. In a moment of Totally Freaking Out, I happened to be in an email exchange with one of the editors at QH, who was all like, "How you doin'?" And I was all, "Oh, I'm good, but I might have to take my child out of daycare and quit freelancing for a while." And she was all, "OH NO YOU WILL NOT."

As is usually the case when I feel like I need to stop what I'm trying to do and either get a soul-sucking - I mean, real - job or keep Devon home and not write, my husband steps in and says he won't let me do that. He wants me to keep writing, and to focus on myself, to get healthier and better at what I do and says he doesn't mind making sacrifices in order for me to do that.  And, no you cannot have him.

So in the midst of all this panicking, I get an email from my old boss at the local magazine, who says that the person they hired to replace me is leaving and would I be interested in coming back? When they hired this person, as you may recall, they had been way behind on paying me, so they reduced the responsibilities of the position and also the pay. Presumably, they have been paying my replacement on time, but I'll find that out for sure when I hear back from her (she's a writer I hired at the magazine I worked for before this one and I brought her with me when I moved over. Then I recommended her for my job when I left.) She'll give me all the dirt, and then I can decide if the risk is worth it, and if the effort they will ask of me is worth what they are willing to pay. They did ultimately pay me everything they owed me, even though it took 6 months. I believe they are good people, just struggling, as many are, in the current economic climate.

I just feel like, for once, I am in a position of advantage where a job is concerned. I don't have to take this position. If I don't like what they're offering I can counter-offer. I can say no thank you and walk away. I can say that I'll do it until I get more freelance work that pays as well as QH. I'm not having to convince them that I'm worth hiring ("I'm a people person and I love puppies and I devote all my time and energy to worshipping my employer like the goddess I'm sure she is.") - they know I'm worth hiring. The question now is, are they worth working for? GOD, that feels good.

You know what else feels good? Sewing together 676 motherfucking half-square triangle units into one breathtaking quilt top. Pressing open that last goddamn seam, and pinning the finished quilt to the wall, stepping back, and just basking in the accomplishment.

I wish I had a better place to hang and photograph it, because this picture really does not do it justice. It's as if this:

and this:

made sweet, sweet love and had a baby. THAT'S how gorgeous my quilt is. The Jolie-Pitts WISH they could produce something this beautiful. In fact, Angelina is probably coming over here right now to try to adopt it. ("But, Braaa-aaaaad, I wanna quilt baby! It totally counts - the batiks are from Indonesia!"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Booty call

Last night a blue Ford Fiesta, quite possibly the World's Smallest Car, pulled into my driveway and when the doors opened, four people were violently ejected, propelled by the force that the stress of 14 hours of driving can produce in two adults and two small children. By the time we hit the Maryland border, I could no longer feel my feet or my ass, my hair was falling out, and I think I may have lost some teeth. Harper was practically catatonic. Only Devon was happy, with her Yo Gabba Gabba DVD on endless repeat.

We drove to Kentucky to visit some of my husband's family, and I took two days away from them to drive down to Tennessee to see my brother and sister. I need to update the Cherry Pie blog, but for now I will tell you that Jon is doing great. He is back at work full-time, he's been cleared to drive a car (but not a motorcycle), and other than a brief mention of his weekly chemo drip and a med-alert bracelet, you'd never know he was fighting brain cancer. We got to spend a lot of time together just being siblings and not clinging to each other in fear that one of us wouldn't be here soon. We still fear it, but we just weren't letting it be the primary topic that day. I think his life right now is all about being normal, and he doesn't want to be a cancer patient all the time. I can't blame him.

Naturally, any visit to my sister's neck of the woods means an after-hours trip to the quilt shop where she works. As I was picking out what I wanted, and was mulling over a fat quarter bundle, she said, "Keep in mind that you're getting a discount," and I asked how much and she said "Thirty-five percent." I said, "Really? That's more than last time." She asked what it was last time and I told her: twenty-five percent. Her boss had just told her to give me whatever discount she gave me the last time I visited, and she thought it was more than it had been. Got to learn to keep my mouth shut.

I didn't buy as much this time, but I got a few goodies:

A bundle of black and white fat quarters, for a quilt I'm planning for someone.

Some random yardage.

A layer cake. I had sworn off pre-cuts, but I really wanted a bit of all the fabrics from this line.

For applique. Kelly gave me some lessons in the kind of hand applique I want to learn, and I will need some of this to hold down all the crazy shapes I'm gonna be whipping out any minute now.

Bonus points for you if you know what this is!

Oh, and as promised, here are some shots of my roommates:

Yep. She let me sleep in the same room with all that. And how did I manage to make it out of there without swiping anything? Because clearly, I could have gone into some of those stacks and she would never know. I guess the main thing that tamped down my klepto tendencies is that I love my sister and would never do that and blah, blah, blah. But here's another. Sunday afternoon she whips out a stack of handbags she had made as samples for the store and said I could have them. ALL OF THEM. Check it out:

When I drove back to Kentucky, much of David's extended family was there and he wanted to show them all the wonders of his new car (I don"t know what they are, because I'm too girly to see them) and he told me, back in the house as we were visiting with everyone, that he showed everyone the trunk, where I still had all this stuff stashed. So I said, "Did you see my booty?" And damn if he wasn't the only one who didn't look at my butt.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

No jokes. Just business.

Well, it appears my handy dandy email subscription box doesn't work, so I've chucked it. Sorry, folks. I'll come back to the issue sometime and see if I can work it out, but this isn't the week for that.

Today is Harper's 7th birthday, so I've spent much of the week preparing for that. And we are driving to Tennessee tomorrow, so today I'll be trying to pack and see just how many vital things I can forget this time. It could be a record, since I will also be taking care of a sick 3-year-old who has yet again managed to fall ill right before a 12-hour car ride. I slept with her last night, and while she managed to eke out a night's sleep, I was kept awake by her sneezes, coughs, moans, and groans. By tomorrow morning, I should be ready to drive us all off the side of a bridge. I'll wave to you as we go down.

We'll return late on Tuesday, and I hope that shortly thereafter I'll have a Cherry Pie update, and maybe some new quilt pictures, if my sister hasn't been slacking off for the last few months. At the least, I'll try to get a picture of her fabric stash, so you can all wonder how I managed to sleep next to it without secretly stuffing the extra spaces in my suitcase.

Have a great holiday weekend, everyone. Oh, and thanks for all your stories of massive hemmoraging!