Monday, June 20, 2011

Peeps and peels

Geez, has it really been two weeks since I posted anything? I have excuses, involving bouts with more than one chronic gastrointestinal problem plus a new one that has decided to crop up all of a sudden, plus a couple of semi-major life changes, one of which I can't discuss and the other being that school is out. Harper and I have had several long talks about how she is going to have to find Things To Do On Her Own and that we will Do Some Things Together, but I also have to Get Some Writing Done or we will Never Make It To Disneyworld In Her Lifetime.

In between periods of intestinal distress, I did manage to haul my carcass to the Annapolis Quilt Show last weekend. Since I haven't been feeling well, I didn't try to hook up with anybody local, figuring nobody wants to see the woman who writes funny quilt jokes on the internet doubled over and grimacing every few minutes. Tends to take the bloom off the rose.

I remember feeling kind of blown away and somewhat intimidated last year, seeing all those quilts with patterns and techniques I would never in a million years master. But this year? I don't know - this year was different and I don't know if it was the quality of the entries or just the increase in my confidence or some of both. I kept thinking that I could do better, and I'm not even sure if I'm right about that. And most of them had been quilted by the same person who pieced them (and apparently a LOT of people own longarms) and I can't compete with that, but I just didn't have that same sense of awe and wonder. I just thought, well shit, I need to get started on a new project.

I did score some fabric while I was there:

Castle Peeps in the red colorway. This is one of those lines I have coveted but never purchased because I knew I would just hoard it and not cut into it, but it's not so easy to abstain when it's all bundled up and giving you come hither looks from across the show floor. She had the green and blue colorways as well, and when I spotted them there were two women fondling them and trying to decide whether to buy one, and as soon as the one woman put this bundle down I swooped in and grabbed it. Yes, I turned into one of those If You're Not Touching It, Bitch, It's Mine people - and I didn't care. And, oh, she had all kinds of good stuff: Echino and Anna Maria Horner and Heather Ross and Erin McMorris and I was drooling everywhere. She has an online shop: Some Art Fabric and her business card (which I have lost) gives her title as Enabler. Her tagline is: We Sell Fabric. Wanna Make Something Of It? I love that.

Since I have my sweet baby girl all up in my armpits for the next two months, I thought it would be prudent to have some handwork to do. Remember this project?

Yeah, well. I abandoned that. I got this far:

and couldn't take it anymore. Those were probably the hardest pieces to do out of all of them, but just doing those was tedious and difficult and I hated sitting there with my Clover mini iron, trying not to burn myself or anyone else. But I still really, really want to do turned edge applique. So I thought that maybe something simpler would be better, and I settled on an orange peel design.

If you have not tried turned edge applique and want to, I highly recommend this route. It's easy to make the template, easy to starch and turn the edges of this shape. So far, I've made 48 squares, and I stitch them whenever I need to keep an eye on the kids without being drafted into participating in one of their games ("Mom, pretend that I'm a princess and you're the evil queen who says mean things to me when I HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING WRONG.")

I am now going to attempt to choke down a piece of gluten-free bread and some water. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quilter's Apps - reviewed by my mom

A few months ago my husband and I got iPads. this was the result of a bonus he had received from work, which was given to him with the instruction to "do something fun with it." I don't know why, but neither of us seemed to feel that paying bills was much fun, and we are Apple gadget geeks. We've had just about everything that fool company produces, even the stupid stuff that nobody remembers anymore. Apple could put out some kind of iToaster or iEarWaxRemover and we'd be trying to figure out how to get cash out of the 401K to get it.

I already had an iPod Touch (naturally), and so had delved into the world of quilting apps just a bit. But I really got going when I got my iPad, but there were so many to choose from, and, being the busy, on-the-go mom and writer that I am, I just didn't have time to go through them all and look at the reviews and decide which ones would work well for me. So, I asked my own personal mom* to help out by testing the top ten quilter's apps and giving me her honest opinion on whether I should buy them. Thanks, Mom!

1. Quilter’s Excuses
Category: Anti-productivity

You know how uncomfortable it is when the head of one of the umpteen committees at your quilt guild gets up in front of the room to shame everyone into participating in something for once in their damn lives? Have you run out of creative and believable excuses for getting out of, say, organizing the library or bribing the community center security guard so no one gets booted for sneaking in Schnapps and beer? This handy app generates a random excuse guaranteed to keep even the most determined committee organizer from roping you into something boring.

Should I buy it? Yes, but if you tell anyone I said so I’ll deny it.

2. Does This Fabric Combo Suck?
Category: Self-Help

This app is for all those nervous Nellies who can’t bear to come up with their own fabric choices for their quilts. If you are utterly dependent on your LQS to have exactly the same fabrics that are displayed in the sample quilt and are tired of people trying to explain the color wheel to you, look no further. Simply take a photo of two or more fabrics and the app will tell you whether they look totally stupid together.

Should I buy it? Absolutely. If it prevents even one person from hogging the cutting table while fretting over eighteen bolts of fabric, trying to pick the one that could replace the only Moda fabric the store doesn’t have in stock, it will have done its job admirably. And yes, I’m talking about you, dear.

3. Quilt Humor Finder
Category: Entertainment

Love to quilt? Love to laugh? This handy app brings all the best quilting-related humor from print and the web together to keep you in stitches!

Should I buy it? Good heavens, no. For one thing, there is no such thing as “quilt-related humor,” and if there were I wouldn’t read it. Quilting is very, very serious and is only practiced by people of high morals and sterling character. Like politicians and teen pop stars.

4. Wonky Blocks
Category: How-To

“Wonky” blocks are all the rage in quilting today: wonky log cabins, wonky stars, wonky geese—even wonky Drunkard’s Path! With videos and step-by-step instructions, this app teaches you how to put the “wonk” in your stitch and churn out bizarre blocks that’ll have your bee buzzing with envy!

Should I buy it? Sure, if you’ve got a spare buck ninety-nine lying around that you just don’t know what to do with. But if you ask me, all you need to make your blocks “wonky” is a box of wine and a blindfold.

5. LQS Locator
Category: Travel

No matter where you are in the country, now you can find all the nearest quilt shops and get maps and driving directions, links to websites, and even special coupons from participating shops!

Should I buy it? Are they trying to suggest that there are actually some quilters out there who cannot track down a quilt shop by scent alone? I once found a quilt shop by closing my eyes and listening for the unmistakable sound of drool dripping on cotton. I suppose this is meant for new quilters who haven’t yet learned to pull into the nearest strip mall as soon as they get that "special tingle." What are you giggling about? The tingle is in your fingers. For heaven's sake.

6. Quilt Porn
Category: Art and Photography

A compendium of all the best quilt photography on the web.

Should I buy it? Call me old fashioned, but in my day, the word “porn” meant something your husband hid under the mattress, not a bunch of pictures of quilts. It’s not that I’m disappointed it doesn’t involve naked people doing things I’ve never even heard of much less done, but I do worry that someone might call the Better Business Bureau about false advertising.

7. The Kama Sutra of Quilting
Category: Entertainment

Put some spice back in your quilting life with hundreds of positions based upon your favorite quilting blocks! Start with the Bow Tie, then try the Churn Dash. Work your way up to more advanced positions such as Irish Chain and Road to California. And now you can share your progress on Twitter and Facebook!

Should I buy it? Well, now I know what all those strange Facebook posts from Helen were all about. Apparently she did the Double Pinwheel this morning and gave it five out of five stars. That’s more than I really wanted to know about Helen, but I suppose this could be fun for quilters who still have both their original hips and husbands who can be pried away from the TV once in a while.

8. Angry Quilters
Category: Games

The survival of the Angry Quilters is at stake. A group of renegade knitters has invaded the Quilt Shop and taken over the classroom with their stupid string and dumb old pointy sticks. Use the unique destructive powers of the Angry Quilters to destroy the knitters’ forts and return the Quilt Shop to its rightful owners. Each of the 987 levels requires logic, skill, and the stone cold badassery that can only come from years of hardcore quiltmaking.

Should I buy it? Die! Die, you stupid bitch. What? Leave me alone; I’m almost through level 257. Stop looking over my shoulder. Oh, now, SEE WHAT YOU DID? Do you WANT me to stab you with my seam ripper? No? Then leave me alone until I finish this level. God. Kids.

9. Quilt Ninja
Category: Games

Enjoy hours of slicing and dicing fiber fun. Slash through gorgeous quilts you could never in a million years piece much less quilt in I'm A Jealous Bitch mode, or upload your own hideous creations in Why Couldn't I Pick Up A Nice Easy Hobby Like Flower Arranging or Scrapbooking mode. And now, you can work to unlock the special Vaginas Don't Belong On Quilts mode, where you can slash and destroy those so-called "art" quilts that claim to be making a statement about homelessness or farm subsidies, but are really just an excuse to put a vagina on a quilt. (Also available in Penis and Twilight.)

Should I buy it? Well, I'm certainly for anything that lets me pretend to take a blade to one of those nasty, nudie quilts like the ones Aurora Blankenship is always trying to put in the local quilt shows.  She's such a bitch when I do it for real and your dad said next time he wasn't going to post bail.

10. Quilter's Calculator
Category: Arts and Crafts

Sure any old quilter's app can calculate how many yards of backing fabric you need, but can they also tell you how many shots of tequila you'll need to finish that Cathedral Windows project? How long does it take for the seizures to subside after putting together one of those no-contrast, mongo-print "modern" patterns that quilt magazines keep barfing out? How many times can you email pictures of your boobs to Ricky Tims before he files a restraining order? This is a real world calculator for real world quilters!

Should I buy it? If it can tell me how many times a woman of a certain age can do the Double Pinwheel before she has to stop to take an extra hit of blood pressure medication, then yes. 

*You all know this isn't really my mom, right? And that these aren't real apps? Just checking.