Friday, August 26, 2011

Why did I waste time worrying about the earthquake?

Now Hurricane Irene is pointed directly at Manhattan, and what are the Fashionista and her boyfriend doing? They're driving back from the shore to his parent's house in Connecticut, after which they plan to take the train back to NYC and collect her cat, after which they might take the train back to Connecticut. Assuming that it isn't already full up with people desperately trying to get out of NYC. Alternative: hole up in her 3rd floor apartment on the Lower East Side with a bathtub full of water, a box of MRE's, a flashlight and the cat.

Connecticut may not be such a great place to ride out the storm either.

At least there is a windowless room in the apartment. Her bedroom.

I have no fingernails left; I'm gnawing my way down to the first knuckle. Oh well, the yoga teacher keeps telling me not to rest any weight on my fingers; by next week that may no longer be an issue.

UPDATE SAT. MORNING - The good news: they've decided not to go back to New York. The bad: I was wrong about them being on the road to Hartford today. The kids are STILL leisurely packing up at the rented beach house in Rhode Island.

I wonder if it's occurred to them that a lot of other people are going to be headed inland today?

UPDATE SAT. EVENING - They're in Hartford. With his parents. And the six dogs. Could get interesting there if it floods.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mary Ruth Smith workshop

This workshop was a couple of weekends ago; I finally got the sewing room cleared enough to put up the lights and photograph a lot of new stuff, which I'll be posting as I edit the pictures.

This woman does amazing things with stitchery. With her it's not embellishment; it's like overlaying a whole new surface over a patchwork of fabrics, or using close-packed black stitches on white fabric to define shapes in negative space, or screen-printing a face onto fabric and then totally covering it with French knots. I don't have a picture of the French-knots face, but here are some snapshots of samples she brought to the workshop:

I think this first piece was all worked in back stitch on a black fabric, but can't remember. The stitches here are so close together, it's like tapestry.

In this piece she's working within the shapes defined by patchwork, and the stitchery doesn't completely obscure the background but adds dimension and interest.

Figures in negative space, with no stitching or very open stitching. Notice the one in the middle that looks as if it was cut from a black-and-white print of bubbles? Those are actually individually hand stitched circles.

The contrast between simple applique circles at the center and closely hand stitched concentric circles radiating out makes the lines of stitchery appear to shimmer.

And here's the piece I started in the workshop.

I wasn't actually trying to make something like a tree, but the strip of dyed cheesecloth up the center insisted on looking like a tree trunk. After contorting it various ways I said, "Ok, be a tree if you insist!" and rearranged some blobs of transfer-dyed lace to be the crown of the tree. I even started stitching the cheesecloth in wood-grain-y patterns (just visible at top right of the detail).

I should probably mention that Mary Ruth doesn't work exactly the way I did. She likes to work on a piece of fabric stapled taut to a frame of stretcher bars. I wrestled with that damn 18" square frame for the entire first day of class. It's not me. I quilt without a hoop. I embroider without a hoop. On the second day I quietly borrowed a screwdriver and liberated my fabric. I'm just bringing this up because if you want to stitch as heavily and closely as she does, a frame might be the only way to keep the work in shape. For the level of stitching I'm putting into the piece, though, it's not really necessary.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A shot of adrenalin

Whoooeee. I was just coming home from the fabric store, turned on the news right at the words "...White House and Pentagon being evacuated," and I thought...well, you know what leapt to mind, especially considering we're coming up on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. A few seconds later they said it was a 5.8 earthquake near Richmond, and such was my state of mind that I thought, "Oh, good, it's just an earthquake."

No reports of injuries or damage yet, just a lot of people all up and down the East Coast saying oh yes, they felt it. All the way up to New York.

The phone lines are probably jammed right now with people who have much better reason than I to be worried. But I do wish my daughter in, at the moment, Rhode Island, would call home.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mindless entertainment

Steve and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours in other people's air conditioning (a treat in itself) watching a movie I would never, ever have gone to if he hadn't read about it and told me its premise. Which is hilarious. "Attack the Block" posits that aliens mount a swarm attack on one of the few places in England that is actually dangerous: a council block. (For those unfamiliar with the term: a council block is kind of like the worst housing project you've ever avoided walking through, except that it is, literally, a block - a solid cube of crummy apartments.)

The film was low-budget, which meant that instead of admiring their wondrous computer graphics, the filmmakers actually had something resembling a plot - for instance, there turns out to be a reason why the aliens are concentrating their attack on this unpromising site; I won't tell you, because it would give away too much of the story. Yes, there actually is a story. And suitably scary fast-moving aliens composed mostly of black fur and glow-in-the-dark teeth. And an ironically realistic ending that is probably exactly what would happen in modern-day England, where you can get arrested for defending yourself against a subway assault with a pocketknife or shooting a thug who breaks your front door down.

Even for those of you who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line and aren't trying to save electricity by using somebody else's air-conditioning, it's worth the time. It's probably even better if you can understand more than a third of the dialogue (I don't speak council-block English).

Maybe next week we'll go see Cowboys and Aliens.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Yikes! The freeway's on fire!

I had to go out this afternoon to get stretcher bars for an embroidery workshop I'm taking over the weekend, which meant either a longish freeway drive northeast or a longish freeway drive south or taking surface streets across town and hoping the itsy bitsy art shop on the Drag had them. I picked the freeway south.

Not a good idea. Okay, the blackened shoulder right at the freeway entrance didn't slow me down, it just made me acutely aware of the fact that our house is exactly half a mile from the location of that particular grass fire. It was the first fire south of the river that stopped traffic; I could actually see flames leaping up from half a mile away, which I figured was Nature's way of telling me to get off the freeway and take South Lamar.

Turns out that a loooong stretch of South Lamar is reduced to one lane for some reason. Also, a lot of other people took the hint from Nature and headed over there.

On the way back it was freeway all the way, allowing me to see that there were actually two separate big blackened chunks of shoulder south of the river, both still being sprayed down by fire crews.

And that's how it can take 3 hours in 107 degree heat to buy 8 stretcher bars.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I want to go water the roof of the house. Just in case.
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