Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quilts of 2012

 I've been busy. Above are the quilts I made in 2012, all folded in half length-wise.

Blue and Pink Diamonds covers the top of our queen-size bed.  That's the 5-year quilt which took about 10 years to do, off and on.  As mentioned before, I fussy-cut and sewed the entire thing by hand.

The small Half-Square Triangles quilt at the top, underneath the Baby, was fussy-cut but everything else was done by machine.  Yes, that's when I bought my sewing machine.  I don't know why I waited so long to do so.

The blues in the Blue and Yellow quilt are from a jelly roll of blue Kaffe Fassett fabrics from Intown Quilters. The yellows are white muslin that I cut and dyed different shades of yellow with Rit dye.

The reds and white quilt are based on the City Tracks pattern by Cherri House.  The white is muslin, the reds are from a jelly roll of batiks from Intown Quilters.

The Yellow, Orange, and White quilt is the first one made entirely from stash.  It includes more batiks from the batik jelly roll, yellows left over from the Blue and Pink Diamonds and the Blue and Yellow quilts, and fat quarters that was all or mostly orange, yellow or white.

Below are more stash quilts, for 2013.

Red, Black and White One-Patch.  The little slips of paper bobby-pinned on are the measurements of each piece of fabric so I calculate how many 4.5 inch patches I can get from each piece.

Based on my calculation, there are 120 black patches, 74 white patches, and 142 reds, for a total of 336 patches.  Not sure how I'm going to go about designing the quilt.  I could go ahead and cut out all the patches and then lay them out, but I also want to save some of the black for the binding... 

And here are possible pieces for a Purples and Greys quilt.  I may take out the busy print in the top left.    Not sure what pattern to make with this.  They're all fat quarters except for the 2.5 inch strips, again from the batik jelly roll.

As I was laying this out, the difference between the warm and cool greys became really apparent, if not in this picture.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fandom, Dragon*Con, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and why I love Labor Day weekend in Atlanta

First, I loved The Night Circus. There a lot of reviews on Amazon.com and Goodreads that are clearly split between "loved it" and "hated it" camps.

Reasons I loved it:
1. Nothing was as I expected.  The contest was not what I expected.  The protagonists were not what I expected. I didn't expect the deaths to happen the way they did.  I didn't anticipate the ending until very close to the end. I kept reading because I wanted to see what happened next.
2. The Circus sounded so cool.  Yes, there are long stretches of description and atmosphere.  They are necessary for you to understand why the circus was so popular.  And it's so unusual, like the Cloud Maze, where attendees can climb a 3 dimensional maze. I want to climb that.  The Ice Garden sounds like something I would love to see. And who wouldn't want to visit the regrets pond (not what it's called) where you drop a stone in a pond and with it, release a regret you hold in your heart.
3.  The description of the fandom. The novel spends time with fans of the Circus who travel from city to city to see it and send telegrams to alert each other when it shows up.  Who share their stories at cafe meet ups and in newsletters. As I am a participant in a few fandoms, I love that our part in it was included.

On a related note, Ms. Morgenstern was a speaker at the Decatur Book Festival this Labor Day weekend.  She spoke on Saturday.  But I missed it because I was at Dragon*Con.

We didn't buy a membership to attend Dragon*Con this year, because of the baby.  Though I think she would have done okay. My mother-in-law was in town, so we went to the Dragon*Con parade, then had lunch at Durango's on Peachtree Street, on the outside patio, which is prime people watching.  There are the people in costumes going from hotel to hotel for Dragon*Con.

There are the college football fans in town for  some bowl game, staying in the same hotels as Dragon*Con.  Husband's a football fan so that's fun for him too.  He would call out "War Eagle!" to any Auburn University fan walking by.  It would startle his mom every time a group would shout back "War Eagle!"

It was also Black Gay Pride Weekend in Atlanta, though up the street a bit.

Labor Day weekend in Atlanta is a great weekend of fandom of many kinds.  I love it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The heroines I'm reading

I recently finished “The Snow Queen” by Joan Vinge, who lives in Madison, WI (I used to live there!).  It’s a sci-fi novel, about a planet ruled by a Winter Queen who exploits a local species to achieve longevity.  However as summer comes (seasons last for decades), her rule will end and so she tries to use cloning to extend her rule.  It’s a fast paced story about power and control.  I like that there are several female protagonists and everyone is drawn in shades of grey. 

On the feminism and culture blogs I read, there has been a lot of discussion about how many authors, directors, etc. will have the heroine suffer sexual assault as a catalyst for turning her stronger or to provide impetus for action.  What I like about The Snow Queen is that all of the heroines face challenges and reach a breaking point, but in none of these instances are the tests sexual or violent. 

The Queen’s challenge is to hold onto power in the face of death.  The federal police chief’s challenge is to maintain authority within her force despite the overt and covert sexism by the men above and below her in the police hierarchy.  And the challenge of maintaining federal law over the locals.  And fighting depression caused by a subsonic device planted in her apartment.  Wow.  I’m really liking the police chief more and more.  The Winter Queen’s clone’s challenge is to survive a psychic break.  See, no sexual violence anywhere.

It is interesting to note that Vinge wrote The Snow Queen in 1980. 

The other book I’m reading is “Hot Ice” by Nora Roberts. Yes, the romance writer.  I’ve only just started but so far so good.  It’s got a “Romancing the Stone” vibe to it.  It’s about a thief who steals some documents that he thinks will lead to a legendary lost diamond formerly owned by Marie Antoinette.  As he’s running from some thugs, he jumps into a car driven by a bored smart heiress who manages to shake the thugs.  She decides she likes the excitement and the quest so joins him as a partner.  Of course, sparks fly and but other things, like being pursued by bad guys keep them from acting on it.  Plus, it’s more fun that way. 

What’s also fun is that this book was written in the 1980s as well, so they have to use the library and books to figure things out, not the Internet and GPS.  Reading about the old tech is fun too.

I like Nora Roberts because her stories make sense with and without the romance.  As with any story, the characters have to be fully drawn characters to be enjoyable.  The plot has to make sense and be driven by internal and external forces, not just coincidence.  What brings the heroine and hero together? What keeps them apart? Does it all make sense?   

Another thing I like about her books is that her protagonists are often entrepreneurs, running book stores, pizzerias, bakeries, a wedding consultancy, an inn, etc.  These are settings where the heroines clearly are in charge and have a lot of agency, and also meet a variety of people, for instance neighbors/customers who need help which sets the plot in motion, and the hero so there can be a romance.

It seems every few years I start writing a book but only get as far as setting –thinking about who are the characters?  What do they do? Where do they live? How do they live?  And there’s always a romance in there. But never get as far as thinking about the plot.  Once I populate the story with people and a setting, what are they supposed to do and why?

I’ve got notes about these characters and images in my head about them.  I may just draw them and not bother writing the stories. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sewing and comic books.

I bought a sewing machine and this quilt top is mostly machine pieced. Because there are so many biased pieces, it's a bit wonky.  Will need dense quilting to keep it flattish.  Since this picture was taken, it's been pin basted to batting and backing.  The backing is just white muslin.  Some time ago, I bought a whole bolt of white muslin.  It'll come in handy.

I've also signed up for an intro to sewing class. It starts next week.  Am very excited. Mostly I want to make quilts, bags, and clothes for the baby and simple dresses for me.

Have also started reading Birds of Prey comics, set in Gotham City.  Not sure yet what I think of it. But it's written by Gail Simone, whose tweets show a lot of feminism, so I'm persevering.  Plus, I got them from the library.

In other news, it's insanely hot in Atlanta.  But today it's actually hovering near only 90 deg F, so I've turned off the air conditioning and opened the patio door for some fresh air.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Time for color

We've been using a pack of plain white cloth diapers as burp cloths / light shade blankets.  However, I looked a Veronica clutching this and thought: My child needs more color!
So I bought some Rit dye and this is the result.  Much better. The colors in the picture below are not quite accurate. The orange is really a brighter mango color.

Dyes used, clockwise: Lemon Yellow, Kelly Green, Teal, Royal Blue, Scarlet Red, Sunshine Orange. I just eye-balled the amount of dye and water. I had a lot of yellow left over after the first cloth, so used it to dye another one.  Hence one bright yellow and one pale yellow.  The aqua is from using a less Teal to water ratio.  The bright red is from using just Scarlet. The darker red is from overdying a Scarlet cloth with the leftover Royal blue. The green is a yellow overdyed with Kelly green.
The scarlet red does run terribly.  I used the microwave method which was fastest. I rinsed them all till they ran clearish, then washed them with my regular laundry.  Now that we have a baby, there's always laundry to do.  

So the yellows and orange cloths went in a load of yellow and gold clothes.  The blue and green cloths with jeans, blue towels, etc. and the red cloths with red and black clothes.  There was a red/white/navy baby dress in with the reds, and yup, the white in the baby dress turned pinkish.  Oh well.  

I really want to dye more things now.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kind of on a schedule

Baby is one month old now and sleeping from 9pm to 4am, then back up at 7am.  If only I went to bed at 9am too.

I do try to take a nap during the day when she does, but so many other things call my attention.  Like quilting.  Finishing that 5, er 10, year quilt, then sewing those swaddling cloths made me really want to do more quilting.  Also, it's getting really hot in Atlanta and all my knitting projects are wool, so....cotton fabrics it is!

Baby likes to nap in the ring sling as I wear it, so I've been catching up on TV.  Thank goodness for the Internet and the pause button, since I hardly ever get to watch anything at the scheduled time.

So I've been watching:
Revenge -- soapy, soapy goodness
Scandal -- Love how take-charge Olivia Pope is and the unrequited love just gets to me.  And Mellie...what a smart piece of work she is.
Once Upon a Time -- love the Queen's outfits and outrageous hair
Grimm -- love Sgt. Wu
The Good Wife

I also started reading A Dance with Dragons, the latest book in the Game of Thrones series and have lost patience with the misogeny.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Have brought home Baby!

Her due date was May 1, but on April 18, got the call from the birth father that the birth mother has gone into labor.  Then at about 10am EST, got the call that Baby was born.

What followed was a whirlwind of ticket-buying, packing, and traveling to California on April 19. I needed to be there to take physical custody of Baby by the time birthmom was discharged from the hospital.  If she had given vaginal birth, discharge would be 24 hours later.  Since it was cesarean birth, discharge was 48 to 72 hours after birth.  That gave Husband enough time to wrap things up at work and be there on Saturday.

The hospital was great.  They let me stay overnight in a room down the hall from the birthmother and I got to room in with Baby on April 19.

Birth parents were great.  They're smart, they made the best plan they could for Baby. Husband and I traveled to CA to meet them in March and really like them.  Baby comes from good people and I will only ever have good things to say about them.

After about a week in CA, while waiting for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children to clear in CA and GA, I could finally bring Baby home to Atlanta.

Husband couldn't stay in CA for the the 10 days I was there.  But at least his mother came from Wisconsin to help out and meet Baby.

Baby's pretty well behaved so far.  Sleeps most of the time, waking about every 3 or 4 hours around the clock to eat.

I'm doing pretty well.  The bout of insomnia I had earlier this year has trained me up for this.

Baby is perfect and Husband and I are thrilled.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Five, er, Ten Year Quilt

It's done!

Here it is, on a bare queen-sized bed.

Started: 200? Was so long ago, I don't remember anymore.  But I know I started it while living at the first house I owned so was sometime after 2000.

Finished:  April 4, 2012.

All fussy-cut and hand sewn. Tied, instead of quilted. Binding is pre-made of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

I love it.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Swaddling blankets

I am very close to finishing the 5 year quilt,which I think actually took 10 years.  Pictures soon.

I have a ton of things to do to wrap up work for a client and to prepare for the baby (find pediatricians, figure out health insurance stuff, learning how to take care of a baby, etc).

However, all I want to do is make swaddling blankets.  I pulled these quilting cottons from my stash and want to just sit and sew.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

One more month

If all goes well, will be going out of state to pick up new daughter

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Oscars and the Bechdel Test

Feminist Frequency is awesome.

Guess which *1* movie passes the Bechdel test?  And whether any pass the Johnson test?


Beginning of her blog post:

It’s been a few years since I’ve checked in with The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies so I thought it would be a good time to look in on Hollywood and see if there’s been any substantial improvement in women’s representations on the big screen.  In this updated video, I go through the 2011 films nominated for Best Picture at the 84th annual Academy Awards and see how they measure up to the Bechdel Test. Keep watching because I also propose a small addendum to help clarify the spirit of the test and provide a solution on how Hollywood can fix the glaring problem that the Bechdel Test exposes. I’ll also address the question, “What about the reverse test?” and I’ll show an alternative test that has been adapted by critics to identify the presence of people of colour in films.  Sprinkled throughout this video I offer a few movie recommendations.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

a (fake) Encyclopedia of Feminism According to Harry Potter

I saw this on Ekaterina Sedia's twitter feed.  I have one of Ms. Sedia's steampunk novels, The Alchemy of Stone.  I give it a B.  The story, plot, and world building was interesting, but emotionally it didn't grab me.

Anyway, she found a (fake) table of contents for a this encyclopedia, written in Russian.  She's translated it.

The link is here: http://squirrel-monkey.livejournal.com/180067.html

and I've reposted the whole thing here.

If this was a real book, in English, I'd love to read it.

So [info]blades_of_grass linked to this amazing Table of Contents, posted here, and authored by (c) [info]sadcrixivan[info]frau_derrida[info]_palka. This is meant to be a ToC for ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FEMINISM ACCORDING TO HARRY POTTER. Of course, as it’s third wave, there are quite a few intersectional articles. What I want to know is why is this not real!

Anyway, blades_of_grass kindly asked for permission to translate this gem on my behalf, because I feel everyone should see this. With many thanks to the talented authors, here’s my translation:


The Practice of Female Separatism in Daily Life of Luna Lovegood

Hermione Granger on Liberal Feminism

Female Empowerment in Academia Through the Eyes of Minerva McGonagall

Women in Politics: The Dilemma of Dolores Umbridge

Women in the Military and Psychological Violence: The Case of Bellatrix Lestrange

Consequences of Limiting Abortion Rights: The Tragedy of Lily Potter

The Death Toll of Unpaid Labor: The Duel of Molly Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange

Replication of Violent Family Practices: Family Strategies of Nymphadora Tonks

The Duality of Economic Strategies for Women: Narcissa Malfoy

The Internalized Misogyny Among Successful Women: Rita Skeeter

Woman as a Scapegoat in Political Processes: Marietta Edgecombe

Forced Marriage as a Conduit of Classism: Pansy Parkinson

Fatphobia: Millicent Bulstrode

Ridicule of Victims of Violence as a Form of Demonization: Moaning Myrtle

The Founders of Hogwarts, or Men are Always in Charge: False Equality

Hufflepuff and the "Virtue of the Working Class": The Silent Majority

Cho Chang: The Relations with Racial and Ethnic Minorities as a Casual Entertainment

The Marriage of Ginny Weasley: "Woman Exchange"

Good Homosexual is a Well-Educated White Men with No Sexual Liaisons: Albus Dumbledore

Polyamory and Childfree Lifestyle -- Self-Positioning of Bellatrix Lestrange

Ariana Dumbledore: Murder of a Disabled Person as a Social Necessity

Argus Filch: Even Harry and Ron Can Laugh at the Handicapped

Goblins: The Apotheosis of the British Antisemitic Tradition

Flitwick and Hagrid: Ethnic Minorities Will Always Clean Up After You, or Uncle Tom in Hogwarts

If the Protagonist is Fed, Slavery is Awesome: House Elves

Only Stupid Girls Fight Slavery

Hermione Granger: A Good Woman Defends Others' Rights and Provides Others' Lessons

Alcoholism and the Esoteric: Coping Mechanisms under Conditions of Discrimination

House Elves: Just Like Women, Only Ugly and Invisible

Pomona Sprout: Good Girls are Liked but not Noticed

Professor Vector, or Anonymity of Women in Mathematics

Poppy Pomfrey: a Subservient Suffragette, or the Outcome of Courses of Higher Women's Studies in St Petersburg

Bellatrix Lestrange and Luna Lovegood: Psychiatric Disabilities and Ableism in Hogwarts

Luna Lovegood, Tom Riddle, Harry Potter" Good Children Don't Get PTSD

Luna Lovegood: Forced Acceptance into the Family Strategies of Psychological Repression

Conventional Man is Allowed Anger but not Grief. Harry Potter: The Masculinity Trap

Remus Lupin and the "Good Cripple" Archetype

Rolanda Hooch: Professional Women's Athletics as Deviation

Molly Weasley and Fleur Delacourt: Differentiation Between Women as a Tool of Oppression

Friday, January 20, 2012


This is Momo. I used the pattern Owl Puffs by Jenna Krupar.  It's supposed to be stuffed in a way that makes the corners stick up like ears.  But I rolled up some left over quilt batting and there wasn't enough for the ears.  So they droop.  Hence I made it into a dog.

Yarn:  Lamb's Pride Bulky, leftover from a sweater I made for my sister years ago.  The photo is off, since the yarn is turquoise, not blue blue.
Needle: US 10, one metal circular, one bamboo circular

~ Used Turkish cast on at the top of the head and 2 circulars to knit downwards.  It was really easy and resulted in a pouch that I could keep the yarn and needles in when not knitting on it.
~ Then I stuffed it and knitted the bottom closed in a flat hexagon so it would sit up.
~ I threw it in the wash to felt it a bit.  I have front loading washing and drying machines, so it didn't felt very much.
~ Embroidered on face with worsted weight wool.  I'll wash it again to felt it in place.  I hope.

Started Jan 12, 2012, finished Jan 19.  It really could be done in a just a few days but I've been sticking to my project rotation, so have worked on this only every 4 days.

I made it for Husband's secretary who is expecting her first kid in February.  I really love Momo.

I'm going to make a baby sweater or toy a month so I'll have something ready to give when I hear about an impending baby.

I forsee making several more Momos or stuffies.  I have so much feltable wool that needs to be used!