Saturday, May 30, 2015

Principal & Interest

My dad was a banker. One of the many things he taught me was the power of compound interest. Of course, there can be no interest if there is no principal. Therefore, saving is a big part of our culture.

In 1988, dad was posted in Bareilly, a mid-size town in northern India. He was the bank manager and living accommodations came as a perk. I was in12th grade and my sister was in the 10th. At this time, a bank officer from another town got transferred to Bareilly and reported to dad's branch. He came with his wife and two daughters. Being new in town, dad and mom took it upon themselves to make them comfortable. Fortunately, they rented a place a short walk from our house. We saw them often and became friends. The elder girl's name was Pallavi and the younger Priyanka. Since they were both younger than us, they called me (and my sister) Didi, a term of respect for elder sister. However, they did not just call me Didi, they gave me all the love, respect and admiration that an elder sister can dream of, specially Pallavi.

Vibrant Colors
One day, Pallavi asked her mom if she could get them a big sister. The mom laughed and said that if they had asked for a younger sibling, she may have considered it. To this day, that story warms my heart.
Warm Ones

Cool Ones
Time passed. The girls grew up went to college, and we drifted apart in pre-email days. And then we reconnected a few years ago with the magic of Facebook and LinkedIn. In 2012, when Paul and I visited India, we stopped in London to see Pallavi and her husband. Unfortunately, her husband was busy at work and we could not meet. But Pallavi, my sweet little sister, was there. She looked the same to me, but prettier, all grown-up and so chic. It is as if the years just melted away.

With Pallavi, in London
I love Pallavi but she idolizes me. I don't know what I did to have that effect on Pallavi. I believe it was just her age when we met. She was so impressionable at that age that if I showed her how to make noodles, it seemed completely awesome!!!

Cool Pattern
Bright Colors

Back to today - When I learned that Pallavi was pregnant, I was so happy for her. In fact, there was a whole range of emotions. There was joy, of course. I was also feeling sadness - I wish we were closer. There was a bit of elder sister concern - hope she is taking her folate regularly.

Paul, the model!

Thank you, Paul
And encompassing all these feelings I chose to make a rainbow quilt for her new baby. The pattern is Strip and Flip. I used 27 colors in the top. The batting is Warm & Natural, as usual. I chose this fabric for the backing. When I saw this fabric, it looked like giraffe heads, first. Isn't that cute?

Backing Fabric

But look again, and it may appear like a dancing man atop the Eiffel Tower. I don't know what you think but it is very chic and modern to me, very Pallavi-like. The binding is a pale green to match one of the colors in the backing. The finished quilt is 40" by 60".

Green Binding

Pallavi's boy was born on April 22. His name is Anay, which is one of the many names of Lord Vishnu.

Labelled with Love

When Paul saw me with the new quilt, he asked.

Paul: Who gets this one?
Me: There is a new baby boy in London. I love him very much.
Paul: Love him? Have you met him?
Me: No.
Paul: How can you love someone you have never met?
Me: I love his mom. She is the Principal. Her boy is the Interest.
I love the Principal. And, the interest is even dearer than the Principal.

Of course, Paul was confused. It is not easy being married to an "exotic" wife from another culture!!!

Love & Blessings for Anay

When grandparents dote on their grand babies, it is often said (in Indian culture) that the interest is dearer than the principal, meaning we love our kids but we adore our grandkids!!!
Now, Anay is not my grandchild but you get the feeling.

I also included in the package two baby blankets. Off to London!!!

Completed this in April but could not blog about it until the quilt reached its destination in London. As always, I look forward to your thoughts.

Friday, May 22, 2015

How many shades of grey?

Last Friday, Paul and I went to see the new Avengers movie. It was at one of those new snooty theaters where you can buy a glass of wine and take it into the theater. Now, I don't drink. Even if I did, I would decline. Why? Because looking at Thor wielding his hammer is intoxicating enough.

The Snooty Bar

As quilters, we are ruined. Really, we are. If someone says wine, I think of a deep dark red color. Cheddar means a bright yellow which is almost orange, and Cracker is the light beige color that would work as a neutral instead of white. Therefore, when I saw this bottle at the snooty bar, I smiled and wondered - how many shades of grey are there in my stash?

A Dozen Shades of Grey

When Judy of Quilt Paradigm invited me to the "Share Your Creative Space" journey, I happily agreed.  Here is a peep into my creative space - the inside of my head, sometimes using pencil and paper, often an Excel spreadsheet and occasionally gum wrappers.

My Notebook

Plus Quilt Design Variation, Design Idea on a Gum Wrapper

Block Design for Paul's Quilt (Paulitiks)

Plus Quilt Variations

Doodling during a Boring Work Presentation

My Sewing Space
But that is not what Judy meant. Creative Space is a loose term here. It really means where I measure, cut, sew, rip, iron, trim and repeat all of the above. My sewing area is not a dedicated craft room. It is the dining area in the center of the house, which allows me to keep an eye on the front door (in case the mailman knocks), stir the crockpot in the kitchen, pet the cat with the foot, and move laundry loads. See what I did there - I made you think that I do chores - Ha ha ha ha.
It is plain and not fancy. However, it works and that is all that matters.

When I enter from the Living Room, the sewing machine and the ironing board are to the left, the design wall straight ahead. The bar and idea wall are to the right, but you cannot see them in this picture.

Used to be a Dining Space

When I look into my sewing area from the Family room, the sewing machine and ironing board are to the right. The idea wall is to the left.

Sewing Machine/Work Station
Here is my sewing machine on my Martelli work station which I acquired a year ago and have just now finished paying for. WHEW!!!

Martelli Work Station

First Pouch I Ever Made

It includes a large self-healing cutting mat. It also came with various rules and two ergonomic rotary cutters.

My machine is a Janome QDC 4120. I got it less than two years ago. It was very generously sponsored by my sister :-) And I have already made over 30 quilts on it.

My Janome

Ironing Board
Here is the ironing board. I think it is the most primitive ironing board. It is suitable for ironing shirts but when I have to set the seam and press them to the dark side on the border of a queen size quilt, it is so inadequate.

In the Corner

I am going to stop dwelling on what I don't like and move to what I like and what I love.

Design Wall
I bought the design wall fabric from Amazon a while ago. Then we went to Home Depot to get a styrofoam board to mount the design wall fabric on it. The design wall just rests along the wall. It is not fixed and I love that part. This allows me to pick up the whole thing and take it out, to see the fabric colors in natural daylight. I did that for Whispering Window and Curry Favor and Coming of Age.

Another WIP

Right now, I have these 9-patch blocks on it. Each block is 9.5" square, composed of nine 3.5" squares.  It is just perfect to use up remnants and scraps. Some of this fabric was left over from the Plus Quilt. I struggled with the color of sashing. White would mean very little contrast with the white dotted squares and black would really make the dark purple look dull. I think this light bluish-grey works. It is just another shade of grey :-)

I am going to call this one PlaySchool.

Blocks for PlaySchool

One morning I had pink and purple blocks on the design wall when Paul was leaving for work.

Drunkard's Path Blocks

Yes, it is a UFO (I admit)

But when he returned the blocks had changed to blue and green.

Serendipity Blocks

On My To-Do List for 2015-2016 :-)

Paul (incredulous): Did you finish making that pink quilt?
Me: No, I just wanted a change of scenery.
Paul: So, you are just playing with fabric?
Me: Yes. You can play too.
Paul: I can?
Me: Yes, play with the clean dishes in the dishwasher or the dirty ones in the sink.

At this time, he knows to leave me alone, but only after he has given me a well-deserved smack on my head.

Idea Wall
Now, when I had finished mounting the design wall on the styrofoam board, there was a rectangular piece of board left over. So, I covered it with batting and use it as a secondary design wall. I throw fabric slivers on there, use it to organize fabric, or just play with designs. I call it the Idea Wall. For this blogpost, I am showing some of the blocks from a WIP  which will become the Welcome Home Quilt.

Idea Wall

Chaos to Creativity

You can also see leftover fabrics from the 9-patch blocks. May be they can make their way to the quilt back - create some interest.

And yes, there is the label for Paul's quilt. He insisted that Paulitiks needs a label. Yes, I will stitch it one of these days.
Label for Paulitiks

Mug Rug Block?

Oh, one more thing. I kept losing my cheater needles. So I put them on a piece of black fabric sliver and pinned that piece on to the Idea Wall. Simple low-tech solution. And that is why I call it the Idea Wall.

No needles left behind

Now, the best part of my creative space.
The Bar!!!
It is 70" long and about 40" wide. What I cannot achieve on my design wall, becomes possible at the bar. The bar came to my rescue when I was working on Squirrel Kisses, keeping long diagonal rows organized. I use it to baste most of my quilts. I love the bar.

Piecing Squirrel Kisses

Long Diagonal Rows

Right now, I am working on a queen size quilt. It is a green rail fence. Here is a peek. I should finish it by June 1st. I just finished basting this beast on the bar :-)

New Quilt (yet to be named) in process

Backing (from Connecting Threads) and the Green Binding

I like to make the binding before I start the quilting. This way I don't have to change the foot between quilting and binding. I am going to quilt it over the long weekend! Weekend - Are we there yet?

This post started with a useless (to me) bar and ends with a very useful one. Here is the paradox  - the useless (to me) bar is probably very useful as a real bar and my bar that has not seen a single drink is the most precious part of my creative space.

If this post has given you any shred of inspiration or brightened your day in any way, please let me know. Because hearing from you brightens my day!!!

Jasmine of Quilt Kisses is next. I am tagging Jasmine because she is not only prolific (so many quilts, made so very quickly), she is also very precise. Her attention to detail is astounding.  You must see how she rescued the Floating Quilt from a nasty grease stain. Prolific, Passionate, Precise and Perfection-seeking, that is Jasmine. Are you still here? Click on the link already!!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Plus Quilt

It was the firm's holiday party. Most folks gravitated to those they already knew, from their offices.  I wanted to introduce Paul to one of the senior managers, who was talking to an Indian couple (let's call them the Kumars, although that is not their real name).  I recognized Mr. Kumar. He was from the other office. We had exchanged emails once but had not met. I also noticed that his wife was pregnant. Just then the senior manager noticed me. I greeted him and introduced him to Paul. Others standing in the circle followed suit. In the next few minutes, the senior manager was pulled in a different direction and we were left chatting with the Kumars.

Plus Quilt in the Morning Light

Paul is such a hit with Indian folks. Because he knows a few sentences in Hindi and he watches Hindi movies and he has been to India twice. For all those reasons and his generally charming personality, most Indians find him endearing as he relates his experiences about his visit to India and his favorite  Bollywood movies. There have been times when he has made recommendations about what movie they should watch! Paul even has a couple of favorite Indian actresses. I think it is Anushka Sharma these days. Naturally the Kumars were amused and intrigued and we ended up sitting at the same table chatting the whole evening.

Bright, Bright and more Bright!!!

Imagine my surprise when a few weeks into the new year I received an invitation to the Kumar's baby shower. We had met just once on the night of the holiday party and I was touched that they had remembered. The shower was in April.  I decided to make a quilt for the baby shower. I chose a simple Plus pattern for the top and a cute baby fabric for the backing.

Plus Block 3" grid

Inspired by Jasmine of QuiltKisses, I had wanted to make a Plus Quilt for a while now. But I wanted it super simple too. Instead of having interlocked pluses (which relies on exact placement of squares), I chose free standing plus signs in rainbow colors. Each block is made up of four white squares, 3.5", 2 colored squares, 3.5" and one rectangle of color 3.5" by 9.5". The block is 9.5" square, finishing at 9". The blocks are separated by a white strip 3.5" by 9.5". Then I staggered the blocks in alternating rows. The quilt top measures 39" by 45".

13 full and 4 partial squares

As I was putting the top together, I said to Paul.

Me: Do you know what I want to write on the card attached to the the quilt?
Paul: No, I don't.
Me: Congratulations on the new "ADDITION" to your family. Get it?
Paul: You are so punny!!!


The baby shower never happened. The baby came a few days before the shower. The invitation was cancelled. I sent a congratulatory email, hoping all was well with the mom and the new baby. The quilt was almost complete. But with the shower cancelled, I had little inclination to finish it. Other projects beckoned. I put away the plus quilt.

Isn't this super cute?


I started work on a Rainbow quilt (that is the next post). I finished the Rainbow Quilt last week.  No, I did not blog about it because I do not want the recipient to see it here before they receive it. Riding on the high of a finish, I pulled out the Plus quilt and finished it too.  It was Saturday morning. Time to go to Curves. I took the finished Plus quilt with me to show to Nancy, my Curves instructor. She is such a cheerleader. As expected, she gushed over it and her enthusiasm warmed my heart. Let me display it here, she said, where everyone can see it. Then she draped the quilt on the front desk.

Quilted with zig zag lines, using the walking foot

Dark Brown Binding to match the Backing

In walked Mrs. D and oohed and aahed over the quilt. Before she could ask, Nancy pointed in my direction and yelled - She made that!!! Mrs. D was very interested in the quilt and asked me if I would part with it. Her granddaughter, Riley would love it, she added. Of course, I would. I was happy that the quilt was going to a good home.
But, I want to take a few pictures first for my blog. I can add a label too, if you want, I said.  She agreed.
I brought the quilt home, took pictures, added a label with Riley's name on it and gave it to her two days ago. This is quilt #8 for 2015 and I am very happy with the way it turned out. I hope that this quilt brings smile to Riley's face.

Elephants too!!!

There is a saying in Hindi which roughly translated means - Every grain has the eater's name written on it. It relates to having unexpected (not unwelcome) guests. So you share your meal with those guests and say something like - You know, your name was written on this meal!
I have a feeling that the same can be said about fabric. Every fibre has the user's name written it.

Did that ever happen to you? Made it for one and gave it to another?
I'd love to hear from you, as always.