Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unashamedly, by hand

We've been workin' away on that half-finished quilt we resurrected for therapy. We stitched the rows together, and added the borders. We did that part twice, because, of course, we weren't paying attention as to which were the outside edges (as opposed to the edges that meet in the centre of the quilt).

We haven't hand quilted in a while. We usually use those old Q-Snap frames. You know, the white pastic tubes with the covers that snap tightly in place. You remember. Those old frames that used to say, right on the packaging, "Guaranteed for Life"?????  Remember???? Well, it seems they were guaranteed for the life of the plastic, 'cuz they sure weren't guaranteed for a normal, human lifetime.....or even an abnormal human, such as us. The parts that snap over the quilt to hold it in place are all cracked and useless.

We ended up with a fairly flimsy-looking wooden frame that measures about 15 inches across. It has a good, strong, and functional screw and wing-nut join though and it seems to hold our quilt nice and taut. We think it's going to be fine. And it only cost us seven bucks!!

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry (you should read it!)

We do have the lumber and hardware for a floor frame, but there's something much nicer about holding the quilt on your lap to quilt.

We have our quilt in its frame. We have our good Ott light. And, we have the CBC radio to listen to while we quilt. It feels good.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hawaii on the cheap

We have a weakness for coffee. There, we said it. But not just any coffee. No. In spite of the fact that we don't travel much (or well), we did spend a very enjoyable 10 days on the island of Maui a few years ago. How exotic, right? It was a fabulous holiday, probably never to be repeated. Almost certainly never to be repeated. Transit time from the Kingdom of Coco to Maui is punishing. Two really long flights, at best.

One of our fondest memories is of the coffee that we bought in the grocery store there and brewed in the kitchen of the condo we stayed in. It's Lion Brand coffee, grown and packaged right in Hawaii. We fell for the Chocolate Macadamia Nut. When we got home, we looked into the possibility of buying it online. They do sell it mail order, and if you live in the US, the postage is pretty reasonable. However, here in the Kingdom, they insist on sending it by courier. The shipping cost by courier is outrageous! It actually costs as much to ship the stuff as the coffee itself costs. Ouch!

We moped around for a while as our coffee supply dwindled. Moped and plotted and felt sorry for ourselves. And then, one day, we started thinking about the possibility of going back to Maui, on holiday. We calculated just how much that would cost. Airfare, hotel, travel insurance!! We factored in how sipping a cup of Lion Chocolate Macadamia Nut coffee takes us right back to the sun and surf, and we had an epiphany!

A cup of Lion Chocolate Macadamia Nut coffee is a pretty cheap indulgence  . . .  even with the courier highway robbery. So, now we buy coffee by the caseload and keep it in the freezer. We even manage a smile for the day-light robber who brings it to the door.

We drew this coffee-swilling lion to enter in a contest that Lion Coffee is running right now. Unfortunately, when we went to enter it, they require our date of birth. We think that little nugget of information is worth a whole lot more than a case of coffee, so won't be entering after all.  We like our lion though, and we hope he likes his moment of fame, right here in the gallery of the Kingdom of Coco.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A book well worth reading

One thing our dad gave us was a love of books. He was a lifelong reader. He often said a person could never be lonely as long as he had a book. Dad credited one of his first school teachers with giving him the gift of reading. He didn't have a lot of formal education, but as a true autodidact, he was a highly educated man.

We've just finished reading a great book. 419 by Will Ferguson is one of those rare reads. It's fiction, but it's changed our world view. Remember last year when we were railing against those telephone scam artists? Well, 419 is about an email scam . . . that old Nigerian diplomat scam. We've all had the emails. However, Ferguson weaves his story around both the scammers and the victims. He's a travel writer, so the parts that take place in Nigeria are completely believable. He's also Canadian, so the parts that take place in Calgary seem authentic, too.

When we say it's changed our world view, it's because you get to see what goes on in the mind of the scammer, the forces that shape his motives, and you get to see how easily we can all rationalize our own behaviours.

419 is an exciting, twisty story that has been shortlisted for the Giller Prize. It's really worth the read.

We're never really comfortable lifting artwork and photos from the internet without permission, so we've decided not to show the cover of the book. Click on the link, if you're interested. But a blog post without a photo? C'mon! So, to fill the void, here's a photo we took on Thursday of some Michaelmas Daisies in our garden. They're beautiful, and they only bloom here in the early fall. We can't believe the summer's blown by already.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Foresight or sloth?

We don't understand why some people work so hard to finish up their projects the way some mothers insist you have to eat your veggies in order to get dessert. We've always thought a well-saved WIP can be a treasure. This is a case in point:

We're at a low ebb creatively. Starting something new seems like a monumental challenge. We seem to have all we can do just to get out of bed and brush our teeth. We knit away on sock after sock because that's easy. Grab wool. Grab needles. Pick out a stitch pattern. Make a few simple calculations, and we're off! But yesterday, we had the urge to handle fabric. We wanted the comfort of the needle slipping into the cloth. We needed the soothing monotony (and we mean that in a good way!) of hand quilting. However, we don't have the energy to pick out colours or slice up fabric.

And then we remembered. We have at least one quilt project already under way. It's a quilt that needs no thought. All the really creative bits have already been thought out. It just needs the drudgery of the doing. And that's what we need right now.

We dragged a chair in, to stand on, in order to reach the highest shelf in our closet. Way up there, is the box, with an actual layer of dust on top. Once upon a time we had this crazy idea that we'd do a scrap quilt in a controlled colour palette, and we'd hand quilt it in 4 sections, with a hoop, and then join the quarters together in a quilt-as-you-go approach.

When we opened the box, we were shocked to see the template we drew is yellowed with age and marked, "Arc quilt, 9 inch block, March 2003".  How cool is that? Nine years' gestation. Two quarters are already completed and joined together. That's fully 1/2 of the double bed-sized quilt done. We have the 3rd quarter partly assembled, and all the blocks for the 4th are there as well. We even had the foresight to package up the backing fabrics AND the border strips. What a gift, to find this almost-finished quilt! It doesn't really matter what stopped us last time. This is its moment.