Thursday, January 24, 2019

Neel

I promise I have a quilt finish to share, in a minute.  But first I have some good news and some exciting news, in that order.


Good news - My blog was featured in the top 25 blogs of 2018 on Fave Quilts website.
I am honored to be listed along side several of my favorites. Do take a look.
I feel on top of the world, at least the blogging world. However, if I ever get my head in the air, too much, I know I can rely on you to bring me down to earth. Right?



Here is the really exciting news - Remember Aurora.

Aurora, the baby maker
I had made it for a co-worker's wedding in September 2018 and Paul had called it a babymaker. Guess what, it lived up to that designation. YES!!!
She is pregnant. I am so tickled.
So if you are reading this and would like to get pregnant, I may be able to help :-D



And now for the first quilt finish of the year - Neel.
The word Neel (in Hindi) means blue. But more importantly, Neel is also one of the many names of Lord Shiva, a shortened version of Neelkanth (meaning blue-throated).

Neel
The blue throat was a result of drinking Halahal - the deadly poison that Lord Shiva drank to protect others.

I made this quilt for my brother.
He is mom's primary caretaker and deserves a special quilt of his own.

For my brother

The design is inspired by the interlocking stars quilt by Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict.
It required sketching followed by many revisions and calculations.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

The final working sketch
Time to pick fabrics.

Yummy solids
I wanted a dark/black background and choosing colors that stand out was a challenge.

Design and Wall

The green in the picture above made the cut.  The blue was too dark (not enough contrast) and was discarded.

The heart of the star is a 16-patch block.  And I wanted to make sure that each solid + 16-patch pairing worked.

Lights and Darks

Matched and Paired
Why did I not take a picture of the blues???

Midway between piecing I switched the cutting/piecing techniques from a wasteful one to a more efficient one. Freezer paper to the rescue, similar to the way I made The Trees of Life quilt.
You see that star points are similar to the trees. Just upside down.


Once the flimsy was finished, it was time to enjoy the handiwork, take a few pictures, share on IG and beam with happiness.

Beaming

Sunlight filtering through

Thank you mailbox!

Hey Sparkle Star

Looking good
It was time to pick a backing.  I had three choices. A wide blue polka dot from Connecting Threads, a wide blue paisley print also from CT (used in Matt's quilt), and a regular sized Dot Swirls from Timeless Treasures.
Blue Polka Dot - Wide Backing from CT

Of course my brother chose the Dot Swirls fabric, which meant that the back had to be pieced.
And I needed every thread of the fabric I had, including the selvages to fit the 72" by 88" flimsy. PHEW!!!

Dot Swirls from Timeless Treasures

But I loved it so much that I ordered the wide backing in this fabric.  It is such a happy print!!!

It was time to quilt. As usual my walking foot came to the rescue.  Including several close-ups to show individual stars and quilting texture.

Here is a blue one

And a fluorescent one

Deep Dark Green

And Light Green

Turquoise Blue
 All blocks, the 16-patch centers and star points, finish at 8".

Metallic Green Center

I quilted with more or less wavy lines with zig-zag stitches along the block seams. The finished quilt is about 72" by 88".
The final quilt was well-received, shown off to many, and admired by all.  They are so kind.


Stars and Smiles

I asked my nephews and niece to hold it up, dangling from the first floor while I stood below to take the pictures.

"You drop it and I will kill you", I said.
They all laughed, but held firm.

Pinwheels are a bonus secondary pattern

"Seriously kids, lower your faces. It is not about you", I yelled from the bottom.
They lowered their heads just slightly, still smiling.


Neel - First Quilt of 2019

Black Binding
 Did you notice the shimmering stars on the black background fabric?

Labeled

Hope you like Neel - this manly quilt.  Please tell me what you think?
About these news bits, my bragging or simply about Neel.  I am dying to know.

I will be linking with all my favorite linky parties. See full list on the sidebar.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Friends Forever

It has been 10+ days since I returned from my whirlwind trip to
India. I am now 95% caught up with sleep, 85% caught up with laundry, and about 75% done with unpacking.

Mural on a wall in a community center in India

And before I fondly remember my best of 2018 (I am 100% late to that party), and share my goals for 2019, there is something else I want to share with you. Warning - It is a long read.

It was March of 2001. The day I received an appointment letter as a Java programmer was also the day I walked out of my troubled marriage. I sought accommodation in a working women's hostel located in Juhu, Mumbai. The building had three floors. The ground floor had the administrative office, the kitchen, the dining area, seating space and one television.  The two upper floors had rooms on either sides of a poorly-lit, skinny corridor.  Shared toilets and bathrooms were located at the ends of each corridor.  We hand washed our clothes and the wet clothes were spread out on the clothesline in the corridor. The water dripping from the clothes overhead meant that the corridor was usually wet. Some girls threw newspapers on the floor to absorb the excess water. Everything about the place was dark, depressing and constricting. The only good thing was the location. It was a ten minute walk to the beach. Most mornings, I would do just that - take a walk on the beach.

Our room was on the first floor, overlooking the road. The room was tiny and had three occupants - Sujata, Biju and me. After three single beds, three cupboards and three small tables, there was barely any space left.  We kept our suitcases on top of our cupboards, and the buckets and shoes under the beds. The hostel provided tea and breakfast in the morning, dinner at night, and lunch only on weekends. The food was vegetarian and passable.  The highlight was the Sunday lunch - beans, rice and yogurt.

I lived in this place for a year and it was the worst year of my life - emotionally, financially and physically. My marriage had come to an end. I was dealing with court dates for an impending divorce.  I was a Java programmer for four months before the dotcom bubble burst.  Of course I lost the job. One of the managers offered me a short-term telemarketing position in advance of an event. I took it. Then I slipped on the staircase in the hostel and fractured my foot. My leg was in a cast but I could not take any time off due to the nature of the telemarketing assignment. So I hobbled to the bus stop every morning, climbed the bus and hobbled from the bus stop to my office, where I tried to keep the foot raised, if possible.

It rained that day. The road was full of puddles. As I hobbled back from the office to the bus stop, water entered the cast but I did not realize it. In the middle of the night, I felt as if my foot was on fire. Sujata and Rohini took me to the hospital, where the doctor on duty cut open the cast to reveal the sole of my foot which had turned white and wrinkled with water absorption. I cried. That was the worst night of my life. I thought - if I can get through this night, I can get through anything.

I completed the assignment, resigned from my job and went to my mom's place to recover.  I returned two weeks later to a new job and things begin to improve. The new job was much better, closer to the hostel and less stressful. I was free to organize my appointments. Sometimes the last appointment of the day would put me close to Sujata's office. On many such days, Sujata and I would catch a movie after work, followed by a dinner at a restaurant. The divorce proceedings were coming to an end. And I had begun to think about my life's goals, life after divorce, and pursuing my dreams that had been quashed due to a loveless marriage.

Shravanti, Nina and Sujata in 2002

That is Shravanti, Nina and Sujata standing behind me.  Nina and Shravanti also lived in the hostel and had become close friends. And these women made those very painful days bearable and gave me a reason to smile when I was absolutely miserable. When the time came for me to leave, the four of us made a special trip to the photo studio in Andheri, a suburb in Mumbai. The studio had a little rinky-dink room in the back, with a mirror and a dusty comb, a flimsy curtain separating it from the storefront. I remember taking turns in front of the mirror to check our hair and make-up.  Sujata and make-up do not get along. Nina was the expert and still is. Shravanti was above these worldly pursuits. The picture was taken. We went back to collect the prints and I am sure we each got a copy.

Nina, Sujata and me in 2018
Over time, we all left the hostel to go our separate ways - better jobs, better opportunities and better accommodations. Sujata bought a condo - a cute little place. I stayed with her this time. Nina changed jobs as she pursued a successful career in insurance underwriting.  Shravanti received national recognition for her contribution to pharmaceutical research.

with Nina (I am wearing the same outfit from 2002. Yes, it was on purpose.)

with Sujata

And now here we are in 2018. All but Shravanti who was in US for a conference. We spent time shopping, eating, laughing, reminiscing old times, recalling incidents from the hostel life, the movies we watched, the jokes we told, and how all of us went our separate ways. Stayed in touch and reconnected.
Crispy Coating, Soft Paneer

Masala Pomfret

You are probably thinking that I made a quilt for Sujata. No, I did not. I thought about it. I even came up with a pattern and a suitable name. But other things happened.  And even if I HAD a quilt, I had absolutely no room to take it. May be next time.

Fresh!!!

Color is everywhere

Between all the gifts that I packed, all the items that mom had requested and all the gadgets Sujata had demanded, there was absolutely no room for her quilt. I was carrying two bags to check, one carry-on and my purse.  Imagine my horror when my bag was over the weight limit.  Sprawled out like a hobo in front of the airlines counter, I hurriedly moved stuff around.

New Blouse (one of many)

While in India, I shopped like a crazy woman. I bought at least ten new outfits (ethnic), received several bangle boxes worth of pretty jewelry, and brought back sweets (for sharing) and flatbread (mom insisted I take for Paul). And in spite of all this, I returned with a whole bag less.

Obviously exports way exceeded the imports. But I digress.

Remember Rohini? Rohini is an Ayurvedic doctor who also specializes in acupressure treatments. She was the one who (along with Sujata) took me to the hospital on that horrible night in 2001.
When I was visiting Mumbai, Rohini was out of town. By the time she returned, my visit was over. She came to the airport to see me but by then I had checked my bags.
STUPID RULE 1- Once you get your boarding pass, you are not allowed to leave the airport. STUPID RULE 2 - If you do not have a ticket you cannot enter the airport.
So, Sujata and Rohini paid entry fees to enter an intermediate area. Now we could talk but over a glass partition. Like we were in prison!!!! This was unacceptable. I had to do something.

with Rohini at Mumbai airport

I went to the desk clerk and gave a performance. Choking back tears, body heaving with sobs barely held back, I said - I have to see this friend of mine. It has been 20 years and I need five minutes. I proceeded to create a scene that would make Meryl Streep proud. Next thing I know, he was scribbling me a note. I ran outside and held Rohini  in an embrace for as long as I could. I went back inside only when some airport official told me I had to get back in. I came in but we continued talking over the glass partition for another 20 minutes.

Meeting with Sujata, Nina and Rohini was the highlight of my trip to India. I firmly believe that the friendships we make in the difficult times are the strongest. And contrasts (be they in life or in fabric) heighten our conclusions.

From Mercy Hospital in Sacramento

Warms my heart
I came home to find this card. It so warmed my heart that I immediately got started on a new Mercyful quilt.

A new beginning

Design Wall
Thank you Bernie for this initiative. The contrast of kindness in times sorrow makes such a huge impact.

Speaking of contrasts but in fabric, I attended a quilt workshop with Debby Kratovil. I made a Modern Vortex Quilt top.
First Quadrant

Half done

It was my first workshop and first time using a Dresden ruler. I completed the four quadrants in class. The workshop/pattern was so engaging that I came home and finished the center.  Took pictures and instantly posted on IG. Yes, I am that thrilled with it.

So happy. New quilt on the design wall in the background
Do check out Debby Kratovil's site and teaching schedule.  She is a veteran quilter from pre-internet and pre-rotary cutter days, has a wealth of knowledge and offers several workshops with several tips and tricks. I highly recommend her.

Modern Vortex

Do tell me about the contrasts in your life or fabric. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I will be sharing with all my favorite linky parties, see full list on the sidebar.