Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stage One: Design, part one

The Thinker
The baby is approaching. I start working on design midway through the friend/relative’s pregnancy, and timing will depend partly on whether I have projects backed up or not. In the last two years, the babies have been coming pretty fast, so I’m behind. I used to like to time it to have the project done right after the baby was born, but that no longer happens. I’m lucky if I get it finished three months in, which isn’t so bad, really. It’s a gift that comes in when other gifts aren’t arriving anymore and things might be a little stressful.
The projects are always different. I make the choice partly based on skills I want to learn or work on, partly based on what I’ve been doing or what I like best, and partly based on what I know about the incoming child.
For instance, I’ve decided that, on the whole, I like doing patchwork best. I’m not sure why; possibly it is because it makes me feel like I am creating order. Perhaps it is because it feels classic. Perhaps it is because I am not so good at appliqué. I definitely like the look of patchwork, and I’ve learned it is extremely versatile.
Even so, I want to keep learning skills, and I am still working on different techniques, within patchwork and in other styles.
In any case, the design usually starts the way I best think—I let my mind wander, often on the backburner while I’m doing other things. I circle around ideas like a hunting lion, not startling anything, staying downwind. The grazing thoughts usually include whatever I know of the family and any previous children, any nursery or favorite colors I have been given, and any clues as to the baby’s name. Also, I think of the baby’s gender, not so much for color, but for design elements. Half-sentences like, “What if I did…” and “I wonder if I can…” drift about, getting discarded or stored depending on my skill level and quality of the notion. Sometimes a theme will come to me suddenly, or I’ll make a stream-of-consciousness connection (as in the turtle quilt—the baby’s middle name would be Francis, aka Frank. I thought of Franklin the turtle and my own lake history, and that was pretty much that). Other times, it’s not so simple.
Take, for example, the circus quilt. I had the theme, I knew the nursery colors and the baby’s gender, and yet the thought process was one of my most involved yet. A circus is, of course, a rich theme, and I’d never done anything like it. It took a long time to figure out what I wanted to do and on what scope, and I have a lot of half-begun drawings that I gave up on.
Gradually, things will take shape in my mind. I’ll make a decision of what I want to try, and then I’ll move forward. Much like the writing process, quiltmaking is recursive, so I know I can always go backward and revise a design, add more thoughts, or completely overhaul if something isn’t working.
Best Part: “Creation is an act of sheer will.” Jurassic Park.
Worst Part: I get antsy when I’m trying to boil up an idea. If something isn’t coming to me, I get frustrated. I won’t give up; instead, I’ll get obsessed.
Next Time: Modeling

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Look at What's Ahead

Lest you think I am neglecting this blog, I want to give you a heads' up on some things.
People have asked me a lot about the quilting I do, about my process of creation. While the mystique is enjoyable, I've decided to do a blog series on my process, complete with pictures. It's not a tutorial; more like a showcase. I've been taking pictures of my current quilt-in-progress, a relatively simple one, so I can best explain how it all works (because honestly, with the more complex ones, I can't always justify the decisions--it just happens).
I'm also working on a few playlists, for quilting and for other pursuits.

Now, I'm just back from spring break. I visited home and hung out with my folks, did some shopping with my Mom for a maid of honor dress (in black), got a haircut, listened to hockey games, and went to visit my Gran in her new digs. I actually extended my visit for a day because I wanted to spend Saturday in my jammies and finally plow through some essays. I have 10 left and then I'm good to go until Thursday.

So, let me at this moment just leave you with that hope for the future, and this video of a kitten riding a tortoise!

Monday, March 07, 2011


For some reason, I received a catalog today from Lydia's Uniforms, mainly a medical scrubs company. I'm not sure what mailing list led to that, but it got me thinking about current uniform fashion. Honestly, lots of these scrubs are pretty fashionable, including the shoes.
Take, for instance, this little blouse:

Crayola threads by Barco, Empire waist top

It has a ruffled neckline and a little bow at the side, and is trim and clean.

Then there is this T-shirt, complete with a quote from Grey's Anatomy:

Grey's Anatomy scrubs by Barco, long seleeve shirt

And while we're at it, let's get some rock-star shoes, like these from Alegria:

And don't even get me started on how comfortable scrub pants look. I favor a drawstring pair that fall to my heels, with a cargo-leg or wide-leg design for a modern look, in a color like "ciel blue" or "wine."
I'm reminded of when, on Project Runway, they made over the postal service uniforms. Who knew medical gear could be so fashion forward? Even so, I wonder what would happen if Project Runway decided to make up new medical uniforms and scrubs? Are you listening, Lifetime?