Wednesday, 26 July 2006

That long, long list

Things to make and do... the list goes on nearly forever. This is good. I believe I should make something special for everyone I care about. I figure I will have to stay alive and kicking as long as I have things I feel that I need to do. I guess it is a good thing that I keep meeting new people to care about. I just keep adding them and new projects to the list.

I want to be sure that my near and dear family have pieces of me long after I am gone. I sew love in with each stitch. They will always be able to hold onto me in that way.

Whether I am sewing, quilting or knitting, every single stitch is made with my love and care.

Silly things, serious things, all these pieces of me will be in their lives. I have spent many, many hours making a wide range of hand-crafted items. Eventually I decided that if I were going to continue spending my time making things that I should make more items that were likely to be around 25 , 30 or 50 years from now (as opposed to the little crafts that are enjoyed for just a few short weeks.)

I remember while I was still a young kid - MAYBE 5 - I really loved making things. Starting with wooden popsicle stick treasure boxes, nylon loop pot holders, woven plastic lanyard bracelets and necklaces, felt pin cushions, empty tin can candle holders with holes punched in highlight a simple design, decorated can pencil holders, Christmas ornaments, etc, etc, etcetera.

I kept a library book out for years of "things to make from everyday items" and I read it over and over again. Isabella, the old lady who lived down the lane (well really around the back and down the alley almost as far as the next block) gave Bianca and I each our own kid-sized real cast metal Singer Sewing machines (beige) - this was in the late 60's I guess. I loved that machine. I touched it reverently, ran it, dreamed of it, was heartbroken when it dissappeared and obsessed over it so much I eventually bought one on eBay last year. I still am amazed that an old lady would give 2 little neighbourhood girls such a wonderful gift just out of the blue.

Doll clothes fascinated me, the toy store on the corner sold special little kits containing printed patterns that were to be cut out and assembled into dresses, blouses, skirts and other Barbie doll clothes. These did not need to be sewn but had special glue dots that were used to press the seams together. I gave Mr. Coopy a lot of my spending money for these kits.

When I spent long nights or days travelling I started to do embroidery and cross stitch. The kits always were complete and so portable. It was about 16 hours on the Greyhound bus from London to New York. A trip I made countless times as a teen.

Finally I started sewing clothes. My first completed item was a zip-front jump suit, made from an ecru (beige) crinkle cotton. I was so psyched up to lay out a length of fabric to run through one room into another and then cut it all up to sew back together and voila- something fun to wear (I did not realize at the time that I was not going to be comfortable dressed like an Air Force helicopter pilot and that going to pee would take as long as a pre-flight safety check.)

The next thing I made was a very pretty light blue, light weight cotton, nehru neck shirt with flowy bell sleeves and a contrasting beige patterned yoke (really testing the colour wheel here). But I loved that top, it was comfy, pretty, nicely styled and I wore it till I wore it out.

Newly married and very poor students, my honey let me buy a basic sewing machine from Consumer's Distributing, 1977, $169.00. The next year we moved to Vancouver, bringing all our wordly goods in 2 suitcases and the 1 sewing machine on the plane. Curtains, clothes, pillows, even a tan coloured tailored suit vest and slacks for that honey of mine (but the 25 cut out pieces for the suit jacket never did make it together for him to wear)... I just love fabric, the textures, the colours, the weave, the feel of it in my hands and the look of it stretched taut.

We brought the sewing machine back east with us when we moved again. That old Brother certainly did not owe me anything for its keep. I sewed and sold so many dolls, toys, tote bags, etc. that it provided me for years with needed spending cash. Poor thing finally started to show signs of slowing down and was traded in for another basic but heavy duty machine. It is a good thing sewing machines are not paid for by the miles put on them. Mine ran all night long for so many nights over so many years.... still sewing away on those vests, tote bags, robes, Cloth dolls, stuffed animals, clothes for the kids, blankets, more curtains, pillows, doll clothes, special dresses, and.... then I started those quilts...

Printed Panel mchine quilted baby quilts were the usual gift from me. I could infuse it with love and joy, warmth and wonderful wishes. From this grew pieced blocks, larger quilts and counting up all these projects would be hopeless. I must have made 80 perhaps - all sizes from mini's to king size. So see, I will keep on going forever. I may as well add another project to my list. Peter knows by now that I never intend to see the list come to an end.

And even better then, that my darling daughter wants me to make special things just for her. For her I have a separate page!!!

P.S. I don't make anything beige anymore.

Monday, 24 July 2006

distilling miscommunications - or the difference between local and long distance calling

Now, all the ranting about the phone calls is primarily related to LOCAL calling!!! All my dear and dearer long distance friends and family know I cannot quickly run over for that cup of tea, however much I may want to. So, when the high tech industry develops the transporter beam I will gladly trade in my blackberry for the chance to drop by and be close to you to.

Until then, remember that I am happy to talk to you courtesy of Alexander Graham Bell if I cannot get over to see you in less than 40 minutes.

HEY - I have over 1000 minutes every month for a flat rate of $5.

Sunday, 23 July 2006

Crackberry with no interest in a 12 step programme

I am one of those "crackberry" addicts. Now I must clearly define my use of the Blackberry to be completely recreational - only friends and family allowed. This does look like I am helpless though...

However, I really do use the B'Berry to keep in touch with the wider world out there; the hundreds of quilters online, friends, the bank, my sisters, my husband and those adult children that have moved on to lives of their own.

So when someone sees me - waiting in that long grocery store lineup, at the train crossing, at the dentist's office, while I am on hold on the telephone - scrolling and thumbing my way through emails they just do not appreciate how liberated I am feeling. Those minutes that were hijacked from me are now my own again. I claim them back as my opportunity for keeping in touch.

The telephone is a false friend. You usually connect to someone pretty quickly but I always wonder if I am interrupting my friend, usually when someone phones me I am busy doing "stuff" [that word again] and I want to get it done. I will not however tell someone that I am too busy to talk - mainly because that requires a value judgment that my activity is more important than my friend. Which is not true but I really suffer the struggle to separate myself from my list. (So many long telephone conversations have me tapping my toes and shaking my head - please release me, let me go, set me free)

...And when I call someone I imagine that they are actually busy doing their own "stuff". So I feel very guilty about interrupting them and controlling their time.

Perhaps it is because I never really did the "call my friends and chat on the phone for hours" thing (except for Peter, when we were 15, with whom I have fallen asleep only to wake up phone in hand and find him still there also on the other end - his parents had the basement phone taken out the very next week).

When I was growing up the phone was charged by the minute and my Dad put a lock on the dial so no one could make outgoing calls and run up the bill. Many people in our neighborhood could not afford a phone of their own so my Mom let others use it,so well the bills mounted, Dad freaked and decided to take control - "Parental Lockout" à la 1960's.

So the upshot is that I never developed a habit of calling anyone, and most friends did not have a phone anyway. I just went over to their house.

I was able to spend hours on the phone with my sweetheart because I could not bear to be apart from him - by this time we had moved to an area that had flat rate local calling so it did not really cost anyone any more dollars.

I still prefer to see someone face to face, have our cup of tea or coffee, have a real hug and be able to share our lives, tears and laughs one on one.

But that crackberry thing - it is like having ESP with everyone you want to communicate with. I send my thoughts to their email when I have the minutes to do so; they read my thoughts when they have the minutes to do so, then they respond with their thoughts as they find the time. I find a few minutes free, then I can read their thoughts, respond in kind. It all seems so civil and democratic. We all choose exactly when we want to "speak" or "hear". No interruptions while the spaghetti pot is ready boil over, or your honey is really wanting you to cuddle up, or you are cleaning up the mess the dogs pulled out of the garbage can or you are just getting to the complicated part of your project.

I have day long conversations with my sister, a sentence or 2 at a time (they live over 800 miles away), long discussions with my kids, I can quickly answer a question broadcast to my email groups,share a joke, make project plans, let the bank know that I want to change my mortgage payment, and even, yes, furious fast paced arguments with that honey of mine.

Not to discount that this is also where I mark all my appointments, phone numbers, lists, and other important information. Unlike many pieces of paper which I easily lose... If I can't find the Blackberry, it has a phone # so I can just call it, and when I answer the ring it is found again.

So if you really need to tell me something right now, the blackberry does have a phone #, just call me!!!

post script: my job 9-5 is tied to the phone anyway...............

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Here I is...


Barda is a good word. It means kit, gear or "stuff" in french. Friends are always telling me that I know a lot of "stuff". So even when my thoughts or fingers wander, all that I am considering falls within the scope of my "stuff".
Where am I? In the sewing studio, my room for thinking, creating, waiting, working, being alone and enjoying my friends. It is not pretty - which is good since no one covets my real estate. It is fairly well organized, practical, sort of comfortable and quiet. It does not have much daylight, not that bad of a sacrifice as I spend most of my time here during the night.
If I turn around from the computer I scan: a wonderful reincarnated 20 cubby-holed storage unit, rescued from a garage (stored nuts and bolts) and before that a hardware store -about 30 years ago. It is painted white and filled with FQ's, half metres of fabric all sorted by colour and 7 quilts in progress. Next wall is filled by a 10 foot long hand quilting frame, tilt-able, made from a great kit, that has a QS 18th century reproduction print BOM quilt on it, in process.

I think I must have started collecting quilt frames since there are 4 of them tucked away around this room.

Turning to the next wall are 2 more reincarnated store fixtures. 2 very wonderful, very heavy wooden display tables (each is 30 inches wide and 60 inches long) with 4 - 12 inch deep and 30 inches square drawers; also from a store - the men's department of Simpsons. If they are put back to back they form a square and that is where the mens pants were neatly folded for display and sale and the back up stock was stored in the drawers below. The paper size sticker labels are still in some of the drawers. More fabric is stored here: yardage and special collections of fabrics. Turning the next wall is my sewing machine table. I use 2 large folding banquet tables to work on for large or group projects - we have had 8 people on sewing machines here at once and an old, old jam cupboard - more fabric and other craft supply storage. There are also 7 - 4 foot long shelves packed with books and matching stacks of labeled and very full boxes (reincarnated from plastic binding combs).
Back in this corner is the computer, looking past this is the laundry area of the basement.
See, no one would want my real estate- but I LOVE IT!
The old wooden store fixtures should last forever and add to the sense that this room is linked to re-use, creation and appreciation of effort.
(We are ignoring the boxes, bins and bags)
I think that I best put some quilting time in on that "Vintage Garden" quilt.