Sunday, March 29, 2009

Self Challenge

Last week our guild, Empire Quilters, held its bi-annual quilt show at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) here in New York City. I am proud to say that I had two quilts in the exhibit.
Two years ago I attended the show and made a decision that I was going to join the group. The quilting guild that I had belonged to, Bridgeview Quilters had drifted apart due to members moving, job pressures and just life. Suddenly, I found myself quilting alone. My best friend was married now and she was doing wife things and quilting was not her top priority. So here I was a bit a drift, oh I still played with my fabric and took a few classes at City Quilters, but it wasn’t the same as being with a group. I had the internet guild, African American Quilters; however, I didn’t find it enough. I needed people to talk to and to interact face to face. So with these things in mind, I joined Empire.
For those of you who have been following my blog, you know I was hospitalized last year with the blood disorder, ITP. While in the hospital, a friend of mine encouraged me to keep a journal of my hospital adventure. In doing so I found myself not only writing but sketching the views from my window. Then at one point I thought of an idea for a wall hanging that would depict on aspect of my adventure-the many blood transfusions that I had to date, and then there were the prayers that were sent on my behalf by family and friends and my own. There had been one night when I was sure that I had seen the depth of Hell and I reached out and grabbed my rosary from the bed stand and prayed so hard I was crying. The meds can really do a job on your head.
Anyway, I sketched out my idea for a wall hanging. The piece would be called River of Life; this was because blood had become the focus of my life while in Eisenstein. I also wanted to include in the design the stark whiteness of my bedspread as juxtapose to the redness of the blood flowing through the clear plastic tubing.
I was now actively back with the guild and the idea of entering a quilt for the exhibit kept playing at the back of my mind. I finally decided that I would do River of Life. This was going to be the first time that I had actually sketched out a design and planned to execute it. Timing was going to be the thing because I also planned to hand quilt the piece. Was I biting off more than I could chew, I didn’t know, but I was going to give it an honest try. I decided that the background fabric was going to be a tone on tone white cotton. The next part was harder because I needed a red that looked like blood. I looked at several red mottled cottons and a slew of batiks, but they didn’t have the richness that I was looking for. Finally, during one of my trips to City Quilter I found what I was looking for, a rich deep red diponi silk. I now had the making for my quilt, let the fun begin. I wanted the red strips to stand out, so that meant trapunto…I was so tired of stuffing tubes to the end and then to keep the seams from unraveling…ugh!!!
Now that the tubes were stuffed it was time to mark for quilting. I selected the Baptist Fan motif for the over -all coverage. I love the pattern and I thought that I would use silver and gold threads periodically to represent the prayer sent for me and by me. I also would make a rosary that would represent the rosary that my son’s fiancĂ©e, Daphney, had given me. I promised myself that I would a lot two hours a night to quilting. I was doing okay until I started reading Twilight, see previous post. I completed the quilt and was very proud of the results and myself. The final title, River of Life- 6 Units and Counting.
I also made a quilt to celebrate this historic election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. American Dream Scrapbook was based on the idea of a scrapbook page. I used patriotic fabric that I had stashed since 9/11 and added photo transfer images from the champagne and the Inauguration. I included champagne buttons that I found on EBay and a brass Andinkra symbol. I didn’t include any journal writing on the quilt, I figured I’d let the pictures speak for themselves.
This whole experience was exciting and exhausting. I will plan better for timing the next time. In fact I am starting to plan for my entries for the next show.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


They say that confession is good for the soul, so I guess in this season of Lent I’ll make my confession. I love the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer. I am a true Twilighter now.
In the beginning of the school session I remembered seeing an article in the NY Times talking about a new teen book whereby a human girl falls in love with a guy who happens to be a vampire. It sounded like an interesting story. Later on while stocking up on books in Barnes and Noble, I saw the novel in the teen section; read the blurb and thought I’ll get it later for my hardcore readers. Low and behold when school started one of my students already had the book and was buried up to her ears reading. Shortly afterwards several other girls had the book and were plowing through the pages. When I asked if the book was good, the response was a loud yes.
Sometime later, my co-teacher, Gail commented that she didn’t think the girls were really reading the book because they often became disengaged when they read and were easily distracted. I thought this was an interesting observation and decided to pay more attention to the girls. Sure enough Gail was right. I asked to borrow a copy for a few minutes and noticed right away what one of the problems might be, the vocabulary. Even thought the book is in the young adult category, it still has great vocabulary which unfortunately my students don’t use because they limit their reading…this is for another post not this one.
As time went on I discovered that one student claimed that she was up to Eclipse which is the third book in the series. I couldn’t figure out how she had made and decided that she just wanted to bet the other girls to the punch. It was now time for the holiday trip to the movies and Twilight had just been released, ya know where we were going. I found the movie enchanting. I kept promising myself that I was going back to see it again, because when you’ve got 180 kids you can’t always follow the action on the screen. Needless to say I didn’t make it back to the theatre; the best laid plans of mice and men.
The year barreled along and I purchased Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse. I told myself that I wasn’t going to read them until the Winter Break, because I knew that I would stay up to the wee small hours of the morning reading…I know me when I’m book hooked. Before the break it was decided that we were going to do book clubs in class. I told Gail that I would do a Twilight book club with the girls who had the book. It would be a guided book club in that I would read aloud and the girls would follow along. There would be a lot of bells and whistles that would help them with their reading and comprehension. I started out thinking that I would read aloud and then I would purchase the audio book and let the iPod do the rest. Once I listened to the woman reading the text, I realized that I sounded better anyway.
I now thought if I’m going to do this with the kids I’d better at least read the book so that I had some idea of what I was getting myself into. Granted there have been plenty of times when I’ve done cold reading of some books, but for some reason I didn’t want this to be one of them. Having already seen the movie I knew what to expect, but then again the book is always more detailed then the movie. Once I started reading I couldn’t put the book down. I found myself totally engrossed in the lives of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. I enjoyed the way the author phrased her story. It was sexy without the overt sex that students are exposed to, sometimes just by watching TV. It was a very romantic story, which is my favorite genre anyway. Before I knew it I was reading New Moon and Eclipse was right behind it. I hadn’t ordered Breaking Dawn because I wasn’t sure how soon I would finish the other books. When I realized that I was eating Eclipse like a bag of M & M peanuts, I knew I needed to hit Amazon. I placed my order on Tuesday after returning from class. Much to my surprise the book arrived on Friday, just as I was finishing up Eclipse. I was a happy camper. I finished the book in a little over a week. I found myself waking up before the alarm clock went off and I would read a few pages before getting up. I wouldn’t take it on the train to class because it was too heavy along with my class textbooks….no way!
When I read the final page I felt as if I were saying goodbye to old friends. This was awful! These were supposed to be books for young people and I am diffently no longer in that category, but I couldn’t help myself, I loved the story and the writing was good.
Shortly, after I had completed Breaking Dawn a colleague, who was also reading the series, asked me if I had read Midnight Sun. I told her I was not familiar with the title. Her response was just read it. I did and it was Twilight told from Edward’s point of view. It wasn’t the whole story, but it was enough to so that I wished Stephenie had completed the book. I enjoy seeing other character’s side of a story, it is something that I do with my students and I find the views interesting and insightful.
I have given up pretending and have finally admitted that I am an incurable romantic and it will not matter how old I am I will always be on the lookout for my Edward Cullen.