Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reevaluating my facile relationship with Nature, or: The first few baby spiders in the laundry room looked so cute until I glanced up--

--and saw multitudes dangling from their invisible threads and realized they were already in the laundry basket so I threw everything back into the dryer and set it on high then caught as many of the tiny critters as I could in an upturned broom and set it outside in the cold (forgive me) before backing out of the laundry room feeling all prickly and freaked out and brushing myself all over . . .

It's really us or them.

fabric search!

When I last visited my folks in August, I taught Mom how to paper-piece a six-point star and hexagon: six of each, when combined, make up a block that I was working on. I didn't know yet what to do with these blocks; they were just fun to make and I had a vague notion that they'd make a nice star quilt.

It turns out that, like most quilt patterns I come up with, someone has done it before. Which is fine--it's wonderful, actually, because I'm very drawn to traditional quilting and patterns. The blocks I was making are the basic units for a Seven Sisters quilt.

But they're quite variable, as well: Mom and I came up with four or five variations, sitting at the kitchen table and moving the paper diamonds and hexagons into different combinations. I cut out a big batch of each from the subscription cards I'd taken from her magazines (these cards are the ideal weight for paper-piecing and I'm always saving them) to start Mom off, and before I left to come back home, she'd already finished her first block (and she'd done a very good job, despite her initial misgivings of "Oh, that's too hard; too many pieces").

Which brings us to the fabric search. Here's the basic block that I showed her how to make:

And here is the block variation that she came up with:

Doesn't it look like a snowflake? And completely different from the first pattern. I've been making mine with yellow or white stars in the center surrounded by dark or medium blue hexagons to emphasize the stars. By repeating the diamond points, she's extended the center star into a more complex crystal shape.

The problem is with the first block: she needs more of the center blue to finish off the outer points on that block. We think that maybe I gave her the blue that she started out with, so I've been searching to see if I have any more of it--so far, without any luck. Does anyone out there have a 6 x 8 inch piece of this blue fabric? Here's a closeup, and thanks very much:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Quilt project: Lone Star

A few pics of the Lone Star quilt top I'm making for R. I'm using an old method, English paper piecing, which basically involves basting each piece of fabric onto a small paper cutout (in this case, little diamond shapes) and then sewing each diamond into place. As each concentric row is completed, the basting thread is removed from the previous row and the paper backing is picked out. In the close-up below, you can see the center eight-point star, the green second row, the third row (a reproduction shirting cotton), and a bit of the fourth row, which still has its basting stitches in:

To photograph the quilt top, I pinned it to a white whole-cloth quilt that Randy made a few years ago. It looks awesome against all that quilting!

But still a ways to go. I try to get in a half-hour of piecing each night. The finished quilt should be about the size of the white one it's pinned against (or roughly 40 x 40 inches):

These photos were taken October 10th. I'll post another pic soon that I took on November 10th. Making slow but steady progress . . .

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Wordsworth

While taking a brief respite from grading, I scanned some of the lower bookcase shelves for a few more poetry books to donate to the library. Found an old copy of William Hathaway's The Gymnast of Inertia, published by LSU in 1982, and of course I had to skim through it before putting it in the "go" pile. Here's a poem for all you fellow teachers:


I liked your poems "Michael," "We Are Seven,"
and "Idiot Boy" very much, even when
the teacher read them aloud and cried
and blew her nose. "Tintern Abbey" is really neat,
though I don't understand it. I did a walk-
athon for March of Dimes once. I hate your poem
"Daffodils." Ha-ha, that's just a joke,
I just don't know better because of television.
Seriously, why did you become such a crusty,
old poo-poo? Professor Borck at the university
says you got tired of not being rich. My
dad says poor people are happy being poor
because God loves everyone--even poets. I
think it would be romantic to have a French
girlfriend and a dopefiend for a best friend.
I can hardly wait until my creepy sister
goes to college and I can have her room.
My best friend is Veralee Broussard and I can
talk about anything with her. I wish you
could tell me what it's like to be dead.
It would feel neat to lie in a cozy coffin
underneath the flowers and know everything.
Really, you rot and go to heaven or hell.
Well, this is almost two hundred words, so
I have to go. Tomorrow we read Amy Lowell.
Mrs. Curtis says she smoked cigars!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Is it Mercury?

I heard somewhere that Mercury was retrograde; maybe that's the reason for all the idiots on the road lately--have been in a couple of really close calls with drivers who suddenly veered into my lane or glanced up from their cell phone chatter just in time to NOT rear-end me. C'mon, people. Pay attention out there. If I could teleport to Williamsport (oh, now I feel pressured to keep rhyming) I'd do it, but meanwhile it's back on the road where usually my main worry is stray deer.

Well, I shopped around a bit online and then went out tonight & blew a gaping hole in the 7KP budget, an act I hope I don't regret. We needed a printer, a good, dependable, total-access laser printer. So now we have one. It's still in the box: a Canon something-or-other. I'll clear space for it this weekend. And yes, we'll gladly accept donations (of any size) to help replenish the budget. Buy a chapbook! Buy two! Support our independent micropress!

We're still tinkering with the cover, but Erin Bertram's Inland Sea is on schedule to come out this month. Can hardly wait: wonderful poems.

Ugh, midnight. I'm a pumpkin. Night night, y'all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Back to the blog

I'm still here: juggling teaching, grading, commuting, and the myriad tasks that come with the press. I need to head off to my next class in six minutes. Just ate a sandwich at my desk from the little coffee stand downstairs--I was going to make a sandwich but the bread had gone bad, something I didn't notice until after taking a bite, ewww. I need to head off to class in four minutes. Last night I tried to preserve some Japanese maple leaves by pressing them between waxed paper layers with a warm iron; I'm not sure it worked because the edges are curling up; I may try again tonight. It's a long winter to go without leaves. Three minutes till class time. We (the press) lost a significant benefactor today; I'm trying to roll with it but I'm not sure yet what the impact will be. Two minutes: time to gather my papers and notes. R just texted me that he found a recipe for kim chee chicken: I'm game. And it's showtime, and I'm off--