Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sari quilt process

I am endlessly fascinated by the process of making quilts. This latest quilt for the upcoming Sari Bari 2015 Quilt Auction is no exception. I received my saris in the mail and was less than impressed with the selection of recycled saris that had come my way. They were dark, mostly navy and white plus two that were mustard orange yellow. The prints were mostly large, except for one small floral print. The only thing I could think to do was ditch the yellows and go with blue and white. Like Delft.  Like my lovely blue and white plates, collected over time and hung on the wall in our big room. Surely, with perhaps a tone on tone white fabric and the blues, I could make a go of it. Perhaps, but I felt a bit skeptical.

Thankfully, the Sari Bari Quilt Auction quilters are a generous lot. On our facebook group, several women offered me saris in different colors and then to my great delight, I found out that three other women from my quilt guild, The Charlotte Modern Quilt Guild, were also making sari quilts this year. We arranged to bring our fabrics to the guild meeting and we made some trades. I ended up with some lighter blues as well as some smaller florals and interesting designs.

My idea began to change. I started seeing photos on said facebook group page of some of the quilt blocks that were being made. I was inspired by the ways in which women were highlighting the design elements of the saris by isolating them with fancy cutting and surrounding them with border fabrics. Hmmm???

Next, I started thinking about plates. As I said, I have a small collection of blue and white plates. Some of them have borders around the edges. The saris have borders around the edges. Hmmmm? Another design option. Highlight the sari borders by using them around central squares.

I started cutting. Fancy cutting interesting shapes within the saris and strip cutting borders. I cut out a couple of larger design elements and framed them in white. And then the quilt started to take shape.

The quilt now has a central medallion which was one of the larger shapes that I cut and framed. I started placing my "plates," some with plain centers and interesting borders, others with white borders and interesting centers, around the medallion. My friend, Amber, came over and helped me move blocks around. We turned them on point. We played with color and design arrangement. And I kept making blocks.

In the process, I posted some pictures and asked about setting the blocks on point around the center medallion. I was beginning to think this was the way to go. I've never done anything on point, so I had to learn. I read some tutorials, watched some videos, and learned about the math of side and corner setting triangles. This, my friends, is truly amazing. Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a math person. But dabbling in the math of the quilt was fun. Hypotenuses, formulas to determine triangle sizes, and the like.

At one point, I pulled out graph paper and colored pencils. Drawing a picture helped me get a better handle on what I wanted to do. It also helped me understand the math. And coloring. Who doesn't like coloring. It's been far too long since I've done any coloring and it was fun.

I am closing in on finishing the quilt now. I have decided on block arrangement. I've cut and interfaced and starched. I've stitched and trimmed and pressed. I have one more row of blocks to complete so that the center medallion isn't exactly center from top to bottom. That way, as it drapes on a bed, it can hang a little below the edge. You know what I mean, right?

Then I have those side and corner setting triangles to do, but they will not be as hard as I thought. So, I'm closing in on finishing the top. And then there are the backing fabric and quilting decisions to be made. The process continues ...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Just the stats ... and a little more

This wasn't my best workout week of the month. I got busy and lazy on Thursday and Friday (excuses, not reasons) and I didn't make it to the pool at all. Again, just couldn't muster the umph to get there. But, it was my longest distance week, since I went on two longer rides - 17.67 and 18.65. Don't you like the tenths and hundredths of miles. That's what happens when you record workouts on a phone app with gps mileage calculations. Right down to the hundredths. They add up.

Anyway, here's the lowdown on tri-training for the month of January. I'm happiest with the cycling. I went twice a week for three of the four weeks this month and starting increasing my mileage. I didn't think I'd be able to ride this much in January, but we've had plenty of high 40, 50 degree, sunny days and I've managed to get out on my bike. Yay! My goal for February: at least one 25 mile ride and two rides a week, weather permitting!

I need to swim more. My goal for February: swimming twice a week and adding open water swim drills each workout.

Walking/running was fine. I'm still on track with my Couch to 5K program and fairly happy with the progress. My new running shoes should come in this week and that will undoubtedly make me run faster, jump higher ... all that good stuff. My goal for February: stay on track with the C to 5K; do a hill workout once a week. (I hate hills, this will be good for me, right?!)

So, here are the stats for January:

Swimming: 4 swims, 3.63 miles (256 laps)
Cycling: 7 rides, 111.63 miles
Walking/running: 14 workouts, 41.19 miles

For a grand total in January of 25 workouts and 156.45 miles.

Not a bad start to the year. Hoping to up those numbers in February.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Riding, riding

We have had two absolutely gorgeous January days with afternoon temps in the 60's. Oh, I do love North Carolina. Snow is wonderful, for sure, and I hope we get a big snowstorm that sends everyone scurrying to the grocery store for milk and bread and closes everything down for a couple of days. I'd be just fine with that. But, goodness, what is not to love about these sunny, blue sky, warm-ish days right at the beginning of the year. Especially this year, when I am trying hard to bike through the winter. Sure has been easy this week.

I did a hill workout yesterday. We found brand new road only a mile away. It supposedly goes through a business park, but there are only a couple of businesses there yet, so very little traffic. Mostly, it is bordered by woods and a cow pasture. Along a one mile stretch of the road, there are a couple of substantial hills so it is the perfect place for a shorter, intense hill workout. That's what I did yesterday.

Today, Coty and I went on a longer ride. Well, longer for me. It was an easy ride for him. 19 miles on the country roads near us. We wore shorts. Horses in their pastures along the way seemed happy to be out in the sun. The chorus frogs were singing. Very little traffic. Coty wears a cycling shirt that says "enjoy the ride" on the back. It's nice to pedal hard behind him and see that shirt. I certainly did enjoy my ride today.

I'm getting used to my new bike. It is so much lighter and feels more responsive. I think it needs a few minor adjustments, but it's a real improvement over the Trek fitness bike that I started riding on in 2012.

I am beginning to feel a little more confident about the Tri Latta race in June. The swim should be fine. The bike portion longer than other sprint tri's I considered, but it will be OK. It's that run that has me scared. My couch to 5K program is moving along fine, but I'm still wondering how I'm going to run a 5k after cycling 17 miles. Training. It's all about training. Consistent plugging away at it in these next few months. Not hard at all on a day like today!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sewing, sewing, sewing ...

(sorry, fuzzy)

My machine's been humming away.

A few weeks ago, I decided to put together a quilt for Levi's birthday. I've been collecting cowboy fabrics for a while so when I got going, it came together pretty fast.

I started with a center medallion of fancy cut cowboy patches with blue sashing and a braided rope fabric frame. Then the flying geese, which I love, and a plaid from my stash ... and it just kept growing from there. I'm hand quilting it now. That's a new skill for me, but since I got a free quilting frame that was being given away at my last guild meeting, I figured it was time to learn.

The Cowboy quilt was "unwrapped" over skype on Levi's birthday on Monday. A bit more quilting to do and it will be on the way to that sweet grandboy.

Next up. Rice bag play.

I am experimenting with rice bags for the next season of Make Welcome sewing. Tote bags. Wrist clutches. It's been fun and I'm learning as I go. You'll probably be seeing more rice bags in the months to come. Our Burmese students eat a lot of rice and they bring their rice bags to class. So far, we've upcycled them into pillows and a few tote bags. We've only used the burlap ones so far but today I played with the plastic fiber bags. Ironing is tricky.  Too hot and it melts. We'll see.

Tomorrow I get to go and talk to a local quilt group about Make Welcome. What a privilege!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A winter ride

I wish I had pictures to show you, but alas, I don't. I went on a ride yesterday afternoon and all the time, I kept thinking how beautiful the winter afternoon was and what I had the privilege of seeing. And to think, I almost missed it.

My husband, ever faithful, ever disciplined, rarely deterred from exercising because of weather or anything else was getting ready for a ride. I'd been sewing all afternoon and was happily closing in on finishing a project. It was 42 degrees. I was feeling not exactly lazy, but just not up for going out, knowing I was going to be cold ... and you know how I hate to be cold. I was battling the inertia inherent in stopping one activity in which I was totally engrossed and starting another one which I knew would not exactly be pleasant, at least at the beginning. I was rationalizing not exercising by saying I needed to finish my project. But, I really didn't need to finish. It was just an excuse.

Coty asked if I wanted him to wait for me. "I don't know," I moaned. "Just go ahead," I finally told him, not sure if I was actually throwing in the towel for the day or not.

This is where having a goal that you've stuck to for a while helps. That two walks, two swims, two bike rides a week goal that I set back in November has become more or less routine. It is so much easier for me now to rouse myself to get out there and walk, ride, or swim so that I will stay on track with my goal. I don't have a perfect "streak" but I've been sticking with it. So, I went upstairs and changed into cycling clothes, found a hood to wear under my helmet to keep my ears and neck warm, and headed out.

A little observation - the act of changing into workout clothes means I've won. I've overcome the inertia and will soon be out the door.

As I expected, I was cold. I know that 42 degrees isn't frigid. It's really pretty pleasant for early January, especially if it's a gloriously clear and sunny early January day. But remember, when you ride, there's "wind chill." Pedaling faster at the beginning means I'm going to be colder. Speeding up as I go downhill means I'm going to be colder.  And you know how I hate ... yea, I said that already.

It took two miles for me to warm up. Fingers and toes stayed cold the whole ride, but the rest of me was fine. And then, I started noticing things like ...
  • the crisp, clean feeling of the winter air on my face,
  • the way the slanting afternoon sun turned the siding on the houses I passed to lavender, salmon, and pink,
  • the stillness of a hawk on a phone line, perched, watching, waiting,
  • the beauty of a field of dried grasses waving in a slight breeze
  • the winter sun and its halo and then in the last mile, a sundog
I had decided when I started on my ride that I would not concentrate on time or pace. I was just going on a ride with the intention of overcoming the cold aversion and enjoying myself. I did. 15 miles of pleasure. Further than I intended to ride. It just felt good to keep going.

The memory of yesterday's ride will help me keep going through the remainder of this winter. There will likely be colder rides. I will likely battle inertia again and likely complain about the cold. But I'll try to remember the lavender houses, the hawk, and the sundog, and then slip into my thermals and head out.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy anniversary to us!

35 years ago today, we made a covenant with each other.  A mere two years after making it, we were on the verge of breaking it. Selfish, self-centered, focused on our own agendas, completely ignorant of how to work toward unity, we were headed in a very dangerous direction. But God in his infinite mercy turned us around. It is rather terrifying to think what life would have been like had we not been rescued by the overflowing love of a gracious God. Through the joys and vicissitudes of marriage, through children and moves and job changes, through happy seasons of ease and light, through times of uncertainty and dark seasons of pain, we have walked and grown and learned what it means to be one.

I am more me and he is more him and we are more us than we have ever been. Unity in marriage has not diminished our personalities in the one, but made us more completely who we are as individuals as we have experienced the perfecting work of submitting to each other in love.

This is hard work.  The flush of young love wore off long ago.  It has been replaced by the patina of years of coming through together, of looking back after traversing a particularly treacherous passage and realizing we'd made it in one piece, we were stronger, and we could actually laugh in joy and triumph together.

This is rather a mystery, how you can become more yourself, more who you are meant to be, as you become more united with another. But then, the God who rescued us as a young, headstrong, foolish, selfish couple tells us it is not just a mystery, but a profound mystery. I have pondered often this image of marriage as a reflection of Christ and the church. Christians are not subsumed into the Godhead; the church, the body of Christ is not obliterated by union, but sanctified, made more complete, more who she is meant to be.

I am a complementarian. Some of you will know, or at least think you know, what I mean by this. For those of you who don't, I simply mean that I understand marriage in the way it is described in Ephesians 5. (Go read it). There is a headship and submission in marriage that is a reflection of the headship and submission between Christ and the church.  I run the risk, I know, of being lumped in with the caricatured version of this picture.  The macho, demanding, unswerving, harsh "head" husband and the timid, weak, mousey, victimized, "submissive" wife. But this is merely a caricature and could not be further from my experience or further from what I think the biblical picture truly is.

I have come to see that the caricature has arisen because people have not truly understood unity; not truly understood that the goal in marriage is not to be good at performing some sort of role, but that the goal is to be one. I am thankful for that insight that became more clear after teaching together on marriage at a seminary in a small town in Cameroon in 2001. I am thankful for that insight that we found so beautifully described by Tolstoy in Anna Karenina (I'll copy that selection to the comments in case you'd like to read it).

We've been married now for 35 years. There were some wonderful things that we did in the first two years, but they were mostly tearing down and learning by mistake years. Since then, for the last 33 years, Coty and I have set our hearts and minds and wills to work toward unity. By God's grace and with his enabling, we will continue to strive for it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

We did it!

Andrew and I signed up this week for the Tri Latta Sprint Triathlon in June so we have five months to get ready. The race includes a 750 meter open water swim, a 17 mile bike ride, and a 5K run. I've certainly got my work cut out for me.  I'm psyched ... and a little bit scared, wondering what I've gotten myself into.  But mostly, I'm psyched and eager for the increased rigor of training with a focus. Working toward a goal.

My husband, always eager to encourage and enable my athletic endeavors gave me a new, much lighter, road bike for Christmas. It's taking a little bit of getting used to - new shifters and a different posture on the bike, but it's sure nice on the hills!  I can tell quite a difference.

Tri-training 2015.  Here we go!