April 14, 2016

Oh My God

I had always wanted to make a quilt by Karen Stone, which, as you can see even through this miserable image, is essentially an insane concoction of Tiny Little Pieces That Can Kill You.

My friend Dr. J was thrilled to be the recipient of it. In return, she offered me her handiwork: a needlepoint pillow.

So last year around this time, we spent a Saturday hunting and gathering our respective goods. First, we went to the needlepoint store, where I fell for a pattern of Chinese spice jars. She let me have my brilliant red and lime wool and told me to shut up about the rest of my crazy choices that were disrupting her conservative color sense .  Then, we tore apart her local quilting store for fabric. We needed tons of bits and pieces in each of the five different colorways that form the quilt. I let her have some conservative choices and told her to shut up as I filled in with crazy outliers that reflect my sense of color.

And, yes, we really say "shut up." It takes a long time to make old friends and the ability to speak to one another with minimal filters is a clear sign of that you've reached that point.

We then sat outside in the April sun dripping massive Greek salads onto our laps (well, my lap) and promised to exchange the finished products in about a year. We each headed home, took naps, and then started our engines.

Now, as a concept, doesn't needlepoint seems like a no-brainer? In and out of little squares that are colored right onto the canvas, no more than paint-by-number with a needle. Except that the one time I tried it, my square turned into a trapezoid and the flat surface became a relief map of the Himalayas. So I had a tremendous sense of awe when, sometime last fall, Dr. J presented me with this:

The squares are microscopic and yet she captured every shadow, every turn, without a burp. Oh my god, I couldn't even do that with fine-tip markers, let alone a needle and fat hunk of wool.

Meanwhile, I was still cutting little triangles and dropping them all over the floor. In fairness to me,  she gets to take her canvas with her to airports, movies, and medical appointments so that she can make track all through her week. That doesn't work so well with machine sewing.  Nevertheless, a month or so ago, I took the finished quilt top to her house. My normally highly articulate friend not stop sputtering. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. She taped it to the kitchen wall in ecstasy but eventually surrendered it as I touted the merits of quilting and binding. 

I am naming the quilt, Oh My God. In a few days, she will see this:
I bound it with scraps from the quilt itself, my absolute favorite technique. And look at the extraordinary machine quilting by Barb Persing and how it brings each little corner to life:
The quilting changes about every two inches, try that sometime if you want to understand
Those circles are about a half inch, little kalamata olives
Dr. J and I are now embarking on our next project. She is going to needlepoint a pillow that she will create from the circular star pattern here. I said she could also make one for me. And we will meet up again with the finished products in about a year.