April 2, 2016

Still Stitching "And"

An NPR radio show this week asked this question: if you could go back and talk to your high school self, what would you say? Most men who called in urged their teen selves not to be afraid of the popular girls (bad advice: be afraid of them. Be VERY AFRAID). Women callers didn't care about the popular boys. They wanted their girlselves to stand straighter, stronger and with their true selves facing outward.

I thought about this a lot these past few days. So my advice to teenage me? In the lunchroom, concentrate less on where you sit and more on what you eat. If you remember, I explored this concept as it relates to stitching here, in my blogging infancy. Three years later, I find myself completely comfortable and at home anywhere in the stitching lunchroom.

Here's one side of me. Remember this?

I turned it into a gift for an amazing young woman who I taught to read Hebrew. She just recently converted to Judaism.

The embroidery is the Hebrew name she chose for herself, words that perfectly match the glow you feel in her presence: Shayna Or, or "beautiful light."

I feel so self-expressive and satisfied weaving these bits and pieces of scraps. But sometimes, the occasion calls for more than that. Here's Stefanie's chuppah (fermenting here):
As you can tell by the canine point of reference, its pretty big.
I've been appliqueing the circles to the base (and occasionally, to my sweatpants) all winter as we cycled through our Netflix and Acorn TV (a BBC salad bar, the best) play lists. I've got about 10 circles left to stitch down and then its time for fine-tuning: removing excess branches on the sides, putting their initials onto the tree, reconsidering the use of two birds made out of cloth bits their moms sent on to me. And then, figuring out what to do with the edges so that Mr. Wedding Planner can get it in place.   

Sometimes, I just have to follow rules. Liza and Kaffe invited me yet again to create a quilt for an upcoming book. (The one that will follow the book coming out in September 2016, for which I created this. So we're talking about September 2017, which feels like a date in a sci fi movie about the far distant future).

The quilt inside me was already named. "Auntie Em." Lots of little squares echoing Depression-era Kansas, like Auntie Em's faded old house dress. But the design itself eluded me. After listening to me whine one too many mornings, Liza kicked my butt to a magical place called The Quilt Index, which archives more than 50,000 quilts from the past. And I found her.
The archival record just says "Medallion, scraps. Circa 1930-1949." And while it comes from Connecticut and not Kansas, the person who donated it attributed it to "Great Aunt."  Good enough for me! I wish I too could make my quilt out of old workshirts and mattress ticking and maybe I will do that next. This time,the rules say new fabric from the Kaffe Fasssett Collective. Here's where I am so far:
I am still playing with choices for the outside borders. And my quilt will also have an outside border that is a series of 16-patch blocks nested on their heads (called "on point," like ballerinas only without broken toes).  She looks a little more Raggedy Ann and Andy than Auntie Em at this point but I will wrestle with the name at the end.

Same stitcher, different stitchings. Something my teenage self would never have been able to understand. That's why, while my heart goes out to that kid, I really and truly like the old lady version a lot better.