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City Squares Finished

A guild quilt show coming up does help UFOs become finished pieces! This one has been in ‘to be quilted’ limbo for quite a while. One reason was that I couldn’t decide how to quilt it. Usually I have a focus to emphasize or some lines that get me started, but there was nothing like that on this one. As the deadline drew near I went with my default, meandering.

I did consider an angled meander instead of curves. I always ponder whether to echo or contrast. I thought curves contrasting to the straight lines of the piecing and print would work. And it is the easier of the two, for me. Sorry, no quilt holder available; maybe a better photo at the show.

City Squares finished

~50 x 70

I haven’t actually measured the finished piece yet; 50 X 70 is the target size.

This quilt was also inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood’s Improv Handbook for Modern quilters; it is Score #1, Floating Squares. Sherri makes two suggestions for edges: cut them straight (as I did for Mint Swirl in the previous post) and follow the curves that form naturally. I tried the latter on this quilt. To deal with the curves I made bias binding. It worked pretty well.  I had most problem with the down curves.

city squares--unsmooth curve binding

This is the worst curve, and I’m hoping it doesn’t show much after being washed. Possibly a single layer binding would have helped (I always make double layer). But  a gentler curve would have helped more. Next time I won’t be so stingy about losing fabric as I create the edge.  I did feel that I had to do the binding the traditional way, machine stitching on to the front and hand sewing the back. I’d not factored that into my time allowance, so cancelled another outing in order to work on it.

The finished quilt doesn’t look much like the picture in my head.  I knew this when I had it laid out and was assembling it, but didn’t know what to do about it. It came to me while quilting. The background needed to have been closer to the background color of the print fabric; then the line between the print and the piecing wouldn’t have been so sharp and the two would have blended better. Also instead of the three areas of color I had planned with most of the red in the middle, maybe I should have used pieces to actually extend the partial city groupings in the print wherever they occurred. The quilt is okay this way, just not the look  I had aimed for.

So my three pieces for the show are finished, but I still have hanging sleeves and labels to go.  I’ll have no trouble meeting a new challenge. Annie’s Ruby Slipperz has a challenge to sew 30 minutes every day, 6 out of 7 for the month of May. (It is early May, you can join in. Information here and here.) At the end she will do a drawing from those comments on the appropriate posts of hers–once a week, I think. Commenting is more important than actually sewing every day for the drawing. This challenge might keep me sewing after these three are labeled and delivered.  Often after a push to deadlines, I take a break. This time I’ll try not to.

Quilt history in reverse order:

Finished top (way back in July)

Assembling the top

Early assembly and arranging and rearranging

Starting the arrangement

An abandoned plan

Skyline, the quilt that made the scraps

I still have a long, narrow piece of the Utopia fabric. And a couple ideas.

 

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Stretching Art and Tradition

Back in January I finished Dreaming of Cool, Clear, Abundant Water and got it mailed off. Today all the Stretching Art and Tradition quilts are online here and next year’s challenge is here.

Enjoy viewing and consider playing.

Meanwhile, I’ve prewashed my Riley Blake challenge fabric, and I’m plodding away at my Threads of Resistance piece. Templates made, pieces cut, and a few stitched.  But it isn’t photogenic yet. Soon.

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This Year’s Everybody Reads Book

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American CityEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a timely “Everybody Reads” book because of the housing crisis in Portland, OR (some rents increased as much as 100%, gentrification, lack of affordable housing).

Ethnography tends to produce readable books, and this one is no exception. The book is about 90% narrative, stories of people in Milwaukee who experience not one, but serial evictions. Interspersed among the stories are comments about statistics and trends. And the final two chapters discuss causes and possible solutions to the housing crisis and methods. One fault was pointed out in a panel discussion that the author didn’t situate himself as white, male, a reflective move usually associated with ethnography. Strengths were that he triangulated sources so that his lived experiences among the evicted were corroborated by statistics and surveys.

The panel discussing the book included a sociologist, an urban planner,who specializes in intersections of race and gender, and a community psychologist. The book’s finding that evictions cause poverty instead of vice versa was presented as new information to sociology, though not to urban planning.

The stories are vivid, the experiences depressing. It is well written, but still hard reading. Some evictions were for trivial issues. Not all were for non-payment of rent. Property managers would sometimes work with those behind in rent, other times not. It seemed arbitrary. Court expenses were added on, so that the person whose rent was 3/4 or more of their monthly check had more to pay than just back rent to clear their records. In addition, it was hard to get another place to rent with a recent eviction on their record, starting a downward spiral. Every eviction disrupted not only the family, but also the neighborhood network. And then there were the school changes for the children. Another finding of the book was that the more children one had, the more likely they family to be evicted.

In the solution section, Desmond observes, if housing is a basic right, we have to rethink “the right to make as much money as possible by providing families with housing–and especially to profit excessively from the less fortunate” (305). Where previously we have made choices favoring profit, we need to reconsider those choices and values. Without that change, he asks us how we would respond to a situation where we could make a lot of money. Thus even while faulting the system, he is sympathetic to the landlords and property managers.

It is definitely a book worth reading and pondering. Then working to make changes needed to alleviate the problem of housing insecurity.

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Not the Weather Quilt but Weather

Portland, OR, isn’t used to snow, so this is noteworthy. Usually snow comes to the higher elevations and the lower get rain.

snow-patio-med

I suppose it is part of Portland’s weirdness that we have five “quadrants”: the usual NE, NW, SE, SW and North, where I live. According to the paper, North got the most snow at 12 inches last night. A few more views–in three directions:

Now back to my weather quilt and other projects in waiting.

ETA: Weather broadcast said that we had not gotten this much snow in one 24 hour period since 1980.

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Gingerbread

Time for my annual jaunt downtown to see the gingerbread creation at the Benson Hotel.

boldt-castle

I forgot to take one photo with people in it for relative perspective. This year’s creation replicated the Boldt Castle in New York. Made with 100 lbs gingerbread, 50 lbs icing, and 20 lbs of marzipan, it took 300 hours.

boldt-candelabra

I was especially intrigued with the tiny candelabra. Behind it an equally tiny “painting”-about 1 1/2 inch by 2.

Some more details:

If you ever visit Portland during December, remember to check this out.

ETA: When I was a child my family took many road trips, one was to New York State. I am sure we saw Boldt Castle because I remember the detail that it was built on Heart Island and stopped when the wife for whom it was being built died. It would have been in the 50s, before it was bought by the state and fixed up, so I am not sure how much of it we saw or even if we could go inside.

 

 

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Good Reading Weather

Etta and Otto and Russell and JamesEtta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My reaction to this novel wavered: sometimes ho-hum, sometimes put off by a stylistic decision, sometimes drawn in and fascinated. I remained puzzled throughout. There are two kinds of puzzlement (at least): 1. puzzled, confused, annoyed and 2. puzzled,intrigued,pondering–willing to reread. My experience was mostly the latter.

This is not a realistic novel, so that opens the door to the question of Why? What reality beyond reality can be conveyed through non-reality? My first answer to that was a feminist one. Etta had so melded with Otto that she needed something dramatic to regain her own identity, so she left, at age 82, on an unrealistic trek across the whole of Canada, on foot. And Otto, understanding, let her go. How else to explain his not pursuing her? Or her dreaming his war dreams? That held up for the first half, then data no longer fit. (view spoiler) I don’t yet have a second answer.

I found it interesting that she always had enough money, that her shoes wore out only once. I began to wonder if the whole novel–in spite of being told from three points of view–was all taking place in one mind. In some ways, the end supports that. (view spoiler)

Early on the pacing was tedious. I kept waiting for a revelation of why Etta left; I kept waiting for the story of a juicy triangle. Neither happened. The triangle was real, but very low key. No more reason was given than we got in the first line of the novel. Normally I like a novel that moves meaningfully between past and present. This one didn’t seem to move meaningfully, but arbitrarily. And the portions were too short. So I found it annoying, at first. I even wondered if in fact there would be no story if it were told chronologically. Gradually, however, the segments of each portion got longer, and I got more attuned to the characters, and I got to caring more about them the more I learned. I pondered who loved Etta more, Otto who let her go or Russell who pursued her.

And is it significant that the talking animal is coyote, and Coyote is a known trickster? And if so, what was the trick?

Yes, I will most likely read the novel again someday.

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Vision and Vigilance Candlelight Vigil

Around 200 people gathered in Waterfront Park at the Japanese American Historical Plaza/Bill of Rights Plaza to say, “Never Again.” The memory of the Japanese incarceration during World War II is much more vivid here in Portland than anywhere else I have been. The experience is more real–people have family who were sent away; others knew people who were sent away and imprisoned. One of my friend’s neighbors was sent away; her family managed to keep the farm for them to return to–many were not so lucky. The occasion for today’s vigil was to say, No, to President-elect Trump’s attempt to use the Japanese imprisonment as precedent for making a list of Muslims.

stone

In this memorial space, the stone to the left has engraved on it the names of the places where the Japanese families were herded and kept behind barbed wire and guarded. Another significance of the space was mentioned in the invocation: We gather here on land ceded by the Tribes of the Grande Ronde.

The vigil opened with Taiko drumming.

taiko

Speakers represented many religions–Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Native American–as well as city and state government and human rights organizations.Overall the message was of unity and solidarity: if they come for one, we will all be there.
I learned of a resistance to the Holocaust, an Imam in Paris had quickly registered Jews as Muslims to protect them.

The city councilman reminded us of Portland’s non-discrimination policies and assured us that Portland would remain a sanctuary city.

An Asian high school student told how important it was for her to learn of various ways Asians had been active in the Civil Rights movement and other crisis situations.

We closed singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

candle

Edited to add link to Oregonian article and professional photos.

 

 

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