Love Letters to Friends, As Well As Very Important Musings on Earth Shattering Matters:
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Tale of Two Binkies

...being a meditation on the various shades of friendship.

This post is a twofer, but that is mostly due to the vagaries of my travel schedule these days, and should not be construed as any slight on the ladies of the hour.  They have been friends with each other for many many (many) (sorry, ladies) years, and I know the one through the other, and my job history is inextricably tangled with theirs now.  I delight in their company in very different ways, and somehow it seemed fitting that they should get posted together, since their quilts were made in tandem over some months this winter, each chosen to be reflective of its recipient.

Meet San:

And Charo:

San is the mother of E (whose quilt is chronicled here) and so I've known her since I was 15 and she was an impossibly young and cool adult to me (my parents were much older).  She is directly responsible for
50% of the jobs I've held in my corporate adult life. I believe I've mentioned ad nauseum a rather bleak period some years back that included a bout of unemployment, during which San swooped in with an opening at her workplace and a reference that must have been glowing enough for them to hire me, and for this foot in the door and helping hand, I am eternally grateful.  I am also grateful for the chance to have worked with her day to day for awhile, thereby getting to see her outside of the confines of the "mom of my bestie" role she has played all those years.  (I'm not at that job anymore, for a variety of reasons, but none of them had to do with San! In fact she knew I was frustrated there long before I acknowledged it, and tipsily gave me Special Dispensation to not feel guilty about leaving, at an office holiday party some years before I actually did manage to leave.)

For San's quilt, I wanted some soothing pastels in the lavender family that she favors, but not something irritatingly precious.  Like I wanted to get as close as I could to "dignified Victorian day dress" without tipping over into "child's Easter basket".  Colors were not so traumatizing for me on this one - more distressingly, San is the finest sewist I know: she made E's prom dress, fer chrissakes!  And also this settee of mine that features in many of my quilty photo shoots?  San recovered it for me like 20 years ago, miraculously making not-enough-upholstery material stretch to exactly the amount required, and it remains a constant treasure among my belongings.  (AND she taught me how to re-spring and re-web a chair and use upholstery nails, and threw in a bias-piping-edged purple velvet throw pillow made in about 5 minutes, just because she was having fun.)  So how the hell do you *sew* something for someone who sews circles around everyone?  The answer, as it was with the question of how to design with color for someone who is a color designer, is "hopefully, and doggedly, but resignedly."

In the beginning, there was some orange. Orange? No.
All the pastels

I did choose this pattern, which is an oldie called "Economy Blocks", (or, more prosaically, "Square in a Square") because I thought San would be pleased with my practice of precise squares in which the points were not lost, though sometimes the points were lost anyway (and man, if I had a nickel for every time that was true of one of my undertakings, this sentence included.)   Anyway, this seemed apt, as San is a precise sort of person, a trait she definitely handed down to her eldest daughter.  And both of them have graciously put up with my well-documented lack of precision, in both craftiness and in life in general, for nigh on three decades now, so I hope that indulgence extends to this quilt.

The much-loved (by me) post-wash crinkliness
Being a fabric aficionado like myself (she tipped me off to the exceedingly great Textile Discount Outlet , a treasure trove if you have time to stomp around an old warehouse fingering bolts of potentially great cheap finds) I figured San would also like this extremely cool shot cotton, which is woven with two different color threads for a faintly iridescent look, and gets exquisitely soft with more washings, and was last featured in Bean's Team Autumn quilt awhile back.
Shot cotton image by FabricAndArt

Halfway through the quilting, which was just in the ditch, with some wrinkley shot cottons on the back.

And overall I was looking for cozy, tactile, snuggly comfort, because here is a woman who loves her things to be just so; and I hoped to make a thing that was just-so enough to show my gratitude for everything she has done for me, from my pompous teen years when we'd steal her car to go to the mall, to the present day.

As for Charo, well there's a kettle of fish of a different color.
The pink corner, with the border hexes

In fact, ALL the colors, really - Charo is a lover of all the hot tropicals, reds and oranges and yellows and bright pinks, and carries them off with great panache in her clothing and her decor alike.  I know Charo because she and San worked together in ages past, and both of them had worked with my first boss LC who hired me on San's say-so, and who later hired Charo to work at my company after I left it, after which San referred us both the job where she and Charo still are.  Also, I bought a mattress set from Charo, when my first adult apartment coincided with a period when she was cleaning house.  Got all that? No, me neither, but never mind - Charo is the kind of person who will remember all of these details for you, while simultaneously running the entire office and keeping track of, and making lunch plans with, or perhaps cooking a giant meal for,  anyone she's ever worked with or had cocktails with or belongs to her impossibly large extended family.  The important thing to remember is that I am qualified for all of these jobs chiefly by way of being able to make all of these ladies laugh, and Charo I believe has needed a comical distraction from her stressful work duties more than most (and/or a large-ish fruity cocktail with an umbrella in it, suitable for drinking in a hot sun on a beach somewhere and keep 'em coming - Charo's preferred escape.)

This quilt is made entirely out of one fabric print (and some solid black), and here it is:
Put a bird on it. That's JB's quilt in the background - you can never have too many projects going at once. Right?
I had bought this fabric with this "one block wonder" aka "stack n whack" pattern in mind, but wasn't sure who it was for until I started making the individual hexagons and figuring out the colorwash scheme.

A single test hexie
But as it progressed, it became obvious that this was Charo all over, from its vibrant colors to its exuberant kaleidoscopic pattern.  It takes a bold soul to wrap herself in the textile equivalent of a bowl of SuperFruit Starbursts, but Charo is that soul.

1. find a colorful large print and buy a LOT of it - this fabric is 7 yards of "Folk Birds" by Michael Miller
2. stack 6 (for a hexagon) layers of the fabric, aligning the print in each layer, and cut 6 identical equilateral triangles
3. arrange the triangles in a circle, with the same corner to the inside, and sew two sets of three to make half-hexies
4. arrange the half-hexies on your floor until you can't stand looking at them anymore
5. sew em up in rows and call it good.

While this looks complex, it's actually a pretty easy quilt to make - the hard part was organizing the hexies just so, to get the color wash effect, and I have about half a billion pictures on my phone of this same layout with ONE hexie moved here or there, in the effort to get every color in the place it was supposed to go.  Fortunately, though, once you get the whole glorious mishmash together in the proverbial riot of color, those minute distinctions kind of go out the window.  The quilting on this was also a little bizarre, as I outlined the hexagons but in a variegated purple thread that showed up starkly on both the black AND the colors on the back.  This one was definitely less about the precision and more about the overall sentiment (I believe this quilt clearly says, "Take me to a bar in Cabo," and I believe its owner would approve.)

And then for the back, some cabana-inspired stripes receding in size, like the striations of a beachy sunset, or a Tequila Sunrise, in the major colors from the hyper-colored front print (and thank you to the Kona Solids swatch booklet for helping me match those. Who knew there were that many shades of "Limeade"?)
A rainbow of fruit flavors

So for two very different ladies who are nonetheless very good friends to each other, and to me, I wish you fruity cocktails and/or cozy nights chilling on the couch, respectively or collectively, as the mood strikes you.  I suspect it will be too warm to take these to your friend's house in Florida, but maybe for your annual Girls' Weekend Michigan House Rental weekend, these could contribute to your comfort, even if your color schemes are radically different.  For me, it is so nice to know that if I ever need an awesome home-cooked meal or a liquid lunch, or advice on respringing a couch or a leg up in a rough spot, I have you two tough cookies to have my back, pour me a tall one, or set me straight, as the case may require.  Love you both!  And say hi to anyone I would say hi to, back at the old job. :)

En route to the UPS store, with much affection


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