Love Letters to Friends, As Well As Very Important Musings on Earth Shattering Matters:
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Friday, July 22, 2016

A Little Skewed, A Little Scrappy, A Little Scattered: Some Reflections

...being a look at how the wretched world bleeds into my peaceful hobby, and the people who get me through.

A while back, after I started saving and cutting up my scraps for easy use, I fell in love with the excellent Scrap-Jar Stars quilt by Amber at Gigi's Thimble.  I was idly testing some of those star blocks, not sure who they might be suited for, when my co-worker Colt stopped by my apartment and saw them up on the design wall.  "Beautiful!" he declared. "The colors match my living room."  Well that was easy. Sold!

Scrap Jar Stars: cool blues, greys and whites, with the odd green and purple
Design notes: The single squares floating around outside of the stars are actually
9 patch checkerboards in the original, but I liked the airy quality of skipping the middle square.  Also this one, originally something like 80x90, shrunk right down when washed to like 75 x 85, such that the edges are currently curling like a fried bologna ring. (What, your dad didn't live through the Depression? The man would fry anything and eat it.)  As per usual it is not square; and certainly as per usual the stitching is not straight in any way.  What it lacks in 2-dimensionality and precision, though, it makes up in a charming cheery scrappiness that makes me think this could be the first quilt pattern I repeat, I like it that much.  And anyway, Colt has already expressed true delight in it just as it is, which is gratifying (and also a relief.)

I was also pleased by the idea that it comprises pieces of all my other quilts, pretty much, which I could identify as it was going together - this light blue from E's Aspen Glow, this purple from Nikita's Pandemonium Carnival diamonds, this pirate gray from the Cap'n's postage stamps. This was also the first quilt on which I really started using my Unknown Benefactress' fabric from the estate sale. It felt like all the good juju from her, and from the beloved people those quilts went to, was poured into this quilt as well; like in some weird way I am introducing Colt to my friends from other parts of my life. Yes, I do realize I sound like a crazy person, thank you.

And even after 35 quilts completed in these last almost-four years of quilting (I counted because someone asked me how many last week), I am still surprised how all the colors just end up blending together, and looking like a perfectly fine, planned whole, even when about zero planning went into how they were organized.  I do credit the large amount of negative space in this pattern for that relative cohesion, since I have also seen scrap quilts that were a bit busy for my taste. 

Little bit o this person's quilt, little bit o that person's quilt

Colt and I started work on the same day last year, so we were in the same orientation cohort, and are now on the same client.  He is a gentle progressive San Fran soul, and a self-confessed empath who, true to that, made a bee-line for me on the Monday I was most strung-out and upset by the horrible weekend of bullshit shootings of unarmed black men by police, and also by the massacre at the Orlando nightclub Pulse.  I don't even think I had seen him yet when he was standing by my chair, saying "Are you okay? You are not okay."  And he was right.  And he made me feel better just for asking.  

It can be tough sometimes when you are mainlining a steady diet of bad news in a city where you are not surrounded by friends who can start to dilute that poison and pull apart the knots in your stomach that you don't even realize are growing there.  I am surprisingly, introvertedly comfortable most of the time with puttering about the apartment, quilting and talking to myself and bathing and reading on the couch, and not speaking to humans for 3 days at a time most weekends....until the shit hits the fan worldwide, and then the sanctuary starts to get a little echo-y (or, as my sister Ratsy once said, "the spaces between are too wide.")

That's a king-size bed, so since there's no drop on this it's really more of a coverlet or couch binkie, but bigger than a throw.

Anyway, Colt caught that right away that day, and I am grateful.  Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes of chat with someone who shares your essential worldview - and enjoying some quittin' time from the fear factory that is Facebook these days - to remember that the world is not 100% shit 100% of the time; or, if it is, at least there are fellow travelers in the Handbasket en route to Hell who are equally appalled by all the craziness and will provide good company for the journey.

The back is two colors of the same fabric, courtesy of the Stash of the Unknown Benefactress

Matched up the pattern right in the middle:
an Adriatic sort of blue, a Sea sort of green, pops of Grecian purple and a Navy binding.
And as I put this one together in a sometimes rather beleaguered state of mind, I couldn't help but examine the parallels between my little hobby and the current climate, in this country and beyond.   I may be hiding out in my apartment making bedding that doesn't fit on a bed, but at least I know that all kinds of scraps and colors can still make a beautiful world; that you can be loved and appreciated even if you aren't square or straight or your edges don't lie as flat as everyone else's; that sometimes it's the negative space all around that enables disparate pieces to cohere in a unified and pleasing whole; and that the fabric of your life is shared with probably dozens of other people, whether you know them or not.  There's some out there that could learn a lot from quilting, if they weren't so busy reinstating the Weimar Republic.

IN ANY CASE, the colors on the quilt, especially the backing blue and green, seem even more apt, since not only are these the cool, calm, and collected colors of Colt's living room, but they are also the colors of the approximately 5,000 pictures he posted from his recent vacation to Greece (give or take some breathtaking white-washed towns perched atop glorious volcanic cliffs.)  And now that he has returned, this is his birthday present. So happy birthday, mister!  Thank you for your kindness in my hour of distress, and I'm glad we were hired on the same day and could bond over knowing some of the same dietary peculiarities.  I hope as you roll off this project you land one close to home where you can stay sane in the upcoming election year; at a minimum, at least, you can hide under this binkie, and the community of friends represented therein, and wait out the storm, same as I did when I was making it.


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