Election Season Angst

November 5th, 2016


Fear not, there will be quilt photos interspersed throughout this post.  This is a quilting blog, not a political blog, but this election season (I believe it’s been going on for over a year now, so “season” is a bit of a misnomer) has taken its toll on my soul and psyche and I just need to vent a bit.



If you live within the United States, then you probably share my frustration and embarrassment over what has been playing out here.  This election seems to have brought out the worst in people, and I’m not just talking about the candidates.  When I listen to the news, I am so disheartened by the way people speak to one another and treat one another.  I can’t remember a time when it was “ok” to be so disrespectful and society just turned a blind eye, as if it’s no big deal.  We’re talking about grown adults who sound like children in a schoolyard hurtling insults at one another.  Everything is fair game and nothing is sacred.  Sexism, racism, fascism have all been “justified” as if they are ok.  It’s kind of like a civilized society has gone back decades in time in its view of how we should view and treat one another.




I don’t know anyone who feels really great about his or her “chosen” candidate.  You can’t really vote for anyone in this election without ignoring some pretty awful transgressions because no one has a clean slate.  That’s part of what gnaws away at your soul, because you can’t vote without simultaneously endorsing someone’s wrongdoing.  By voting, you’ve dipped your toe into the cesspool that surrounds you, so now you’re part of the muck.  At the same time, you can’t “not vote,” because the stakes are simply way too high.




I know many of you reading this live outside the US and I feel compelled to tell you that you have been witnessing the very worst side of our society.  Personally, I’m so ashamed to be seen the way the rest of the world must see us now.  I feel genuinely scared about the future, more than I ever have, because we are such a fractured and angry country right now.  People are acting with impulsivity and expect not to deal with consequences.  We come across like people who have no sense of right and wrong, no sense of fairness or equality, no sense of empathy or understanding, and no concern for anything other than our piggish wants and needs.  I feel like I’ve been watching a really bad reality TV show that’s gone on for months.  (And this is coming from someone who watches all of the Real Housewives, so that says a lot!)



In my non-quilting life, I am a hospice physician.  My job is all about connecting with people, and connecting with them quickly.  I need to figure out “where they’re coming from,” what matters to them, and how I can best communicate with them.  This means I have to really pay attention to what they’re saying to me and how they’re saying it in order to pick up on subtle cues.  Respecting their values and opinions, even when they are not mine, is key.   Lately, I feel like my job is the only place left where people routinely hold one another to this kind of accountability.  What happened to just valuing one another as human beings?  What about respecting the fact that your political views are different from your next door neighbor?  Do we all have to agree on everything to get along and actually be kind to one another?



If I sound morose, I guess I am.  A part of me feel broken inside after months of this ridiculous back and forth that is endlessly playing on newscasts and in news feeds.



I don’t want to end this blog post on a negative note, so I won’t.  I guess I’ll just say that I’m hoping that whoever wins this election, the bickering, name calling, and posturing will stop.  We really need to put forth an effort to accomplish something together and stop focusing on why we can’t find some form of a middle ground where everyone has a bit of a say in what happens going forward.




Here’s hoping that we find that middle ground…



Choosing Quilting Designs

November 3rd, 2016
I finally finished binding this table runner and I thought it might be a good example of how I often choose my quilting designs.    This is a machine embroidery applique table runner that uses the swirly flower design I’ve been experimenting with lately.  I don’t do a whole lot of straight line ruler work but I have to say that I think the straight line ruler work is what makes this piece cool, so I may need to start doing more of it.  The way it frames the center section, in such a bold and graphic way, is very striking to me.  The first thing I do when I’m quilting something like this is all SID work and then I outline all of the applique shapes with invisible thread.  Once that was done, I figured I should fill in the small spaces created by neighboring embroideries with something, so I opted for a tiny featherette between each mirrored pair of flowers, like what you see between these 2 red flowers:
and the slightly larger featherette with swirls at the base in the larger space formed by leaves from neighboring featherettes coming together:
Notice that this latter photo shows nothing surrounding the featherette, and that’s more accurate because I don’t add in any background quilting until all my “anchoring” design work is done.  Next up was the most important anchoring part, and that was doing the ruler work that surrounded the flowers.  That blank space (or negative space, as modern quilters oft call it), is the machine quilters playground.  It’s our “raison d’etre,” if you will.  Most of my quilting challenges these days are exactly like this project, where my challenge is to develop a design that works around the various “players” in an applique scene.  I don’t know why, but it’s extremely easy to do this using ruler work to create a framework, and then going back in w/free motion quilting as “fill-in” work.  If you haven’t tried this yet, you are missing out on a lot of fun.
Using a straight line ruler, I created the series of channels that make up these triangles and then filled in the center zones with featherettes, yet again.  I’ve found that you can get a ton of mileage out of featherettes, so it’s worth it to learn how to create them.  Once all the traingles along all 4 sides had been filled in, I needed to do something for background quilting.  I used the igloos design:
…and as you can see, it has a bit of a vermiform character when done in odd, tight confining spaces, but this design is always a good background fill.  By this time, I was thinking about stopping, but I decided to go back in and stitch a small stipple just around all of the featherettes that were along the center line, as this made their edges more distinct and recognizable:
That really made things look much least in my book.  It really gives the piece such incredible texture:
This was really just SO MUCH fun to quilt; I’m tempted to make another one just so I can quilt it again!
I think I may be getting sucked into straight line designs, at least for a little while…