Whatever Friday

April 17, 2015

Hello Friday…I’m glad you’re here. Well. Sort of. Thursday was a tad busy and kicked my ass just a teensy weensy tiny bit, so I’m glad it’s over, although I distinctly remember 3 AM (I guess that was technically Friday though, so I can’t blame Thursday). I spent all day discussing sperm and egg (of plants mostly) and genetic diseases (explaining to a 12-year-old boy that he CAN get breast cancer…I am a font of information for these little internet-based brains). My voice is shot…for two weeks, I don’t talk to anyone hardly at all, certainly not at volume, and then I spend four days doing almost nothing but talking. I should fix that for next week (already done). Today is an assembly, which shortens all the classes, which means we won’t get done with what I planned. Oh well. It will all work out. Somehow. Whatever.

I still haven’t caught up on grading. I haven’t been trying really hard though. I did try the Google Classroom app on my iPad for one assignment, and it’s just not working. I don’t know why. The app on the phone doesn’t work either, so my theory that my iPad is old and doesn’t respond well is thrown out. This is a fucking bug. There might be some workaround, based on what I see online, but it’s probably just easier to sit at a computer and do it. My desire to sit on a comfortable couch with my kid (who is cranky as hell most times, so who knows why I would choose this option) and grade stuff conveniently and easily on my iPad is apparently not to be realized for this assignment…or any other assignment I set up on Classroom. Hello, Google. Get a fucking clue. Seriously, do they not have teachers advising them? They must be that smart. Everything with Classroom seems to take so long for them to figure out…like give us the ability to schedule assignments so they don’t show up until some time we have set in the future. If I want the kids to NOT see an assignment until I actually assign it, I have to type it up minutes before they show up in my classroom. That’s just idiotic. Calendar, people…let me calendar stuff. Don’t they know teachers do all their work at midnight the night before? (The assembly today is actually saving my butt on this, because I DIDN’T do it last night, but we won’t get to that part of the assignment until Monday. So I’m cool.)

I did no art yesterday. I did nap (I was really tired). I went to the gym. I ate. I hung out. I’m OK with that. I dragged my sketchbook out with me, because the other figure on that large drawing is poking at my brain, but it apparently wasn’t poking loud or hard enough, because I didn’t draw. But I recharged a bit, and that’s good, because Friday assembly days are not always easy. And it’s a soccer tournament weekend. Plus there’s an opening I want to go to. Plus one of the games is a long way away at some ungodly hour on Sunday morning. So that sucks. And it does not bode well for lots of artmaking (or sleep) this weekend. In fact, I’ll get some done tonight, and I could take the binding with me in the car and sew on it while my ex drives (he doesn’t like my driving). I might even get it mostly done. I have two exes now who don’t like pins though…and when you stitch, then there are pins. And sometimes you drop them. And needles too. And really, you shouldn’t freak out about that. It’s just a really tiny sharp thing that will hurt when you step on it. Or sit on it. Big deal.

Big smile there. Whatever. This is totally a whatever Friday, isn’t it? Don’t expect much from me this weekend.

Make Art. Make a Lot of It.

April 15, 2015

The first week back after a break from school challenges your voice…lost mine yesterday during 7th period to a coughing fit (the kids are so funny about that…they get worried). It’s back now…sort of…but you go from barely talking to anyone for 16 days to nonstop talking and generally fairly loud for huge portions of time…of course your voice has issues. Tiredness is the next thing that hits you. Even if you try to get the right amount of sleep, if you don’t fall asleep right away or something wakes you up in the middle of the night, then you’re short for the next day and it snowballs by the end of the week. By Friday of the first week back, I’m usually close to collapse when I get home. Plop down in a chair or on the couch and I’m not moving for an hour, except to heat up my tea. That’s what I was like yesterday…taught all day, then did tutorial, then raced the cat to the vet. Got home around 5:30. Collapsed. Eventually I came back to life, but it took a while. And this morning? This morning I feel like a lump of tired. And I slept last night! Seriously, I did. So that’s good, but I think I need a whole ‘nother 8 hours. I won’t catch up again until the end of June.

I worked on this again last night…

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This is the larger version…I did the electrical lines correctly this time because I did the basic outline in pencil first, so the lines would overlap correctly. So I’m happy about that. And there’s a uterus now, because I moved the hand lower.

I usually draw everything in pen without a pencil sketch at all. Sometimes I outline something in pencil because I want to make sure a hand ends up in the right place, or it’s something I’ve never drawn before, like those elephants…I think I used pencil on their general outlines and then went in with pen and did the final drawing. I use whiteout on my drawings when needed, because the drawing is not the final product, so it doesn’t matter if there are corrections on it.

So I think I’m going to go copy this (enlarge it) after school today, because I looked up the guidelines for this show, and the quilt needs to be smaller than I thought. So I don’t think I can draw the second figure on another sheet and try to combine them…it will be too big. I think I will have to enlarge this one and draw the other one directly on the enlargement. Which means I will draw tiny details that will not be enlarged (must remember NOT to do that). Plus I’m going to enlarge two of the bathtub drawings and do eeny meeny miny mo to decide which one gets to come into existence first. I might copy the third one (which is actually the first one) as well and give the poor woman a head. Just for fun.

I don’t want any down time between projects…I was talking to a couple of people who said their muse was absent, that they didn’t have things to work on, no inspiration, too tired, too stressed, and my brain is like WHAATTT??? What IS that? I have too much. Too many deadlines. Too many ideas. Too much stuff just dancing around in there that wants to be made.

I’m not complaining. It’s a good problem to have. But it reminds me of my professor in the UK in college who told me that my method of creating work was faulty, that I would Run Out of Ideas if I kept working like that. Oh yeah? Suck my…cause I haven’t (sounds like a personal problem dude). What’s funny is that he was maybe in his late 20s at the time, and I thought he was an old fuddy duddy. Interesting, because the guy in charge of the whole art program there was much older, and I didn’t have any issues with him.

So ideas? Not a problem. Time? Always a problem.

Before I drew, I did a little quilting…

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It’s hard to quilt when you’re tired. It’s physical…although this one is so small, it’s not really a problem. I’m just doing outlining right now. I have ideas bouncing around my head about how to do the background, and they have not solidified into a plan, so there’s really no point in getting done with the quilting right now. I also have 18 miles of binding to sew down and a bunch of grading to do. I bribed myself last night…you will grade for one episode of this show, and then you can stop and do something artistic. It works. I get a little grading done, but I also get to do what I want. And that is the perennial discussion for teachers…how do I do less work (because you can work nonstop in this job and still never be done) and have a life balance that makes me feel OK about my job and occasionally recharged and even happy? I’m not sure teachers ever really figure it out. We have to keep reminding ourselves how to do it. Walk away sometimes. Say no sometimes, maybe even a lot. Pet a cat or a dog. Hug someone, not a student. I mean, you can hug students too (in an appropriate manner), but there should be other people in your life, people who aren’t teachers even. People who have nothing to do with schools…

In my case, make art. And make a lot of it. All the time.

Napping 101

April 14, 2015

Going back to school…I forgot my computer at home and had to drive back to get it before school started. Luckily, I don’t live too far away and for once, the signals cooperated. I managed to run a lab in class yesterday (well, mostly managed) and survived an hour and a half of a staff meeting, where apparently I used ALL the swear words at the new California state testing website, which kept telling me my password was wrong, even though I’d just changed it. This does not bode well for testing in May, but I can only hope it will get more stable by then (I can hope…), because I can’t swear like that in front of the kids. We’ve been asked to possibly take on an elective class for next year. Um. Yeah. I don’t need another prep. I can teach “How to Grade Papers for Your Teacher” or “Napping 101,” but I’m not a fan at the moment of adding prep time for a class I would have to make up from scratch. Yes, I do have both kids gone next year, but I might have to take on another job after school…it’s a fine line. If I make more money, the colleges will make me pay more, but I don’t actually have enough right now to pay for both of them. Minor issue.

When I got home, I was strangely motivated to go to the gym. Getting back into the routine of going to the gym has been hard since I was sick in February. But it’s my goal for coming back to school…yes, it makes sense to have a back-to-school goal of exercise. It helps me relax and sleep (although that didn’t happen last night…I was completely wired) and it’s good for me anyway. So it’s on the calendar for this week. Plus I get to read there, and I haven’t been reading much lately. Reading is a good place for my brain to hang out regularly.

The girlchild is nice on Mondays (she doesn’t have soccer), so she had started dinner by the time I got home. We even made leftovers to get us through the week…which is almost smart, right? We ate and then I pushed myself off the couch and cleaned the kitchen. At 9 PM. Yeah. That was tough, but it needed to be done. I also prepped part of tonight’s dinner, because I have tutorial after school (which might make me want to crawl in a hole all by itself) and then the cat has to go to the vet, so I thought it was easier to prep while washing dishes than to deal with it after school today. Really, sometimes I can think ALL the thinks and be really organized. It’s OK…it will all be gone by next week: the organization, the goal-reaching. Hopefully not.

I made it in the studio/office by 9:30 PM. Not early. But not uber-late for me. I could sew bindings. I could draw. I could stitch down the second recycled quilt…which is what I chose to do. I knew it wouldn’t take long, because it’s not very big…

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It took less than an hour, and then I sandwiched it and pinbasted it…

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Another half an hour. It’s ready for quilting now. That was easy. I might start quilting tonight…maybe. I was pretty tired at about 11 PM last night, but then I kept working, and that might have been my downfall…because when I finally went to bed after midnight, I couldn’t fall asleep. And then I woke up at 5-something and couldn’t go back to sleep. Ugh. This morning feels a bit fuzzy and wonky. Plus I spent a good hour last night reading up on all my uterine options. There’s nothing major wrong…just annoyances that won’t go away, and all the treatment options are worse than the original annoyances I think. Or they won’t work. And when you talk to a nurse, they think they know this or that, but they don’t know for sure, so then I get a referral to the doctor (finally), and I hope they will listen to my needs, because the nurse and NP keep saying “do this” and I keep saying “look at my file. I can’t do that.” Frustrating that we can’t manage the symptoms of perimenopause without removing the offending organ or giving you meds that could cause more complications. Anyway. I won’t be able to get a doctor’s appointment probably until summer anyway, and maybe it will all be moot by then. A girl can dream.

And you wonder why I keep drawing pictures with my uterus in my hands.

Anyway. This guy joined me for a while last night while I was trying to get my brain to wind down by sewing woolen eyeballs on woolen frogs and birds and sheep that I’m not allowed to show you (ugh…Sue Spargo, you annoy me. Actually, all the Spargo copycats who copy her stuff from photos? YOU annoy me. Go design your own stuff, you lazy bums.).

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I need to go to work. I really need a nap, which is not a good way to start the day…but it’s the start I’m feeling. And I need the next big project to get itself drawn or copied or planned. Not gonna happen today.

It’s Over

April 13, 2015

Spring Break, that is. Every year, the end comes with a depressing wail of remembrance of the last X weeks of school, with a realization that you got almost nothing done that was on your list, and that sleep will elude you for months now. Seriously, even though I went in to my classroom yesterday to make sure everything was OK (it wasn’t…and not by my own fault), and I know I have everything copied and planned pretty much for the next four weeks, I still woke up early, completely wired, stressed out, sure I’d forgotten something.

And the fact is, I probably have. So what. I got this.

I’m ahead of the game on the two quilts I wanted to work on over break. I have three assignments I still need to grade. So I’ll do that this week. Somehow. I’m doing OK. The world isn’t going to end because I’m back in school. Hopefully.

So I went shopping Saturday morning for binding fabric for the Ventura quilt. I laid it out on the floor of the quilt shop, which I could do with gay abandon, because there’s no politics, nudity, or violence in this quilt, per Ventura’s guidelines. Y’all realize this is for a juried show that I might not even get juried into, whatever, I did it anyway and someone will show it. Because it’s pretty and has no nudity or violence or politics. Unlike most of my stuff.

When a quilter has to buy “just one piece of fabric,” y’all know how that goes. In fact the binding was the most mellow of all the fabrics I bought…

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On the left, you can see the back of the quilt that needs the binding. At the top, you can see the one I need to stitch down sometime this week.

I spent a couple of hours cutting and sewing on the binding by machine and then pinning it all down…

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It’s about 29 feet of binding and sleeves that I now need to sew down by hand. It’s OK. I’ve got plenty to watch on Tivo. And it’s kind of relaxing to do that anyway. Except for all the pins sticking you. Here’s where 17 people pop in and tell me I should sew my bindings completely by machine (I don’t like how it looks…I’ve done it) or fuse them (same deal) or leave them off altogether (eh). I still follow the rules for some parts of the quilting process (that should stymie my counselor some…she’s convinced my sole purpose in life is to break the rules, and yet, I break so few of them). Anyway. She’ll be done this month easily. The quilt…not my counselor. She’s got tons of work left to do.

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That’s a lot of pins. And sleeves. I put sleeves on the top and bottom on big quilts…the weight of a slat or dowel in the bottom sleeve helps it hang better. I’ve finally got myself trained to do that automatically. It took a year, I think, to get to that point.

Good Kathy.

Then I looked at the clock and ran through the things that were next on my list. I need a couple of drawings to get done, both for possible juried shows. I have a lot of binding to do (obviously) and that other quilt needs to be stitched down, which I didn’t feel like doing last night. So I cut out a piece of paper for one of the drawings (it has to be a specific size). And then I left it in the other room, because trying to draw straight lines to make a box in which to draw sounded like hard work (it was after 10 PM at that point…give me a break). So I had a small drawing that needed to be made into a larger, more complicated drawing, one of two for a show I’d like to be in (jury!), so I sat down with the smaller drawing out and ready, and started making it bigger…

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Obviously, I still have some work to do (and actually, I ran off the bottom of the page, which will be an issue at some point). There will be two figures in this piece, so I have to draw the other one as well, and then copy them and try to fit them together correctly. Sounds like a project for this week (wait a minute…I will probably be brain dead most of this week…maybe not the best choice). I also have two other drawings that I might enlarge and start numbering/tracing. I have deadlines all over the summer…usually they don’t come until late August/early September. Not so this year. It’s not like I was going anywhere anyway. Hiking maybe. Camping maybe. An opening in LA. That’s about it.

One of the (many) things I didn’t get done over break was dying fabric (and socks)…

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It’s all sitting here waiting for me. Plus a box from Dharma is in the living room. I could pull this off on a Saturday morning sometime, but National Cup soccer starts this weekend, so it could be a while. Oh well. I got to hang out with my Belgian sister, I did two hikes, I finished (pretty much) one quilt and got significantly into the next one. College decisions happened (mostly…because nothing is ever set in stone here), I made it through the boychild’s taxes and his FAFSA (one more financial aid application to go). I listened to music and watched movies and read books and got a tiny bit of the yardwork and cleaning done that was supposed to happen. Same with the grading…a small portion was completed. I wouldn’t be Kathy if I were caught up on grading after a vacation.

The rest will come. I’ll figure it out. Back to reality. (More caffeine please. Brain still not online.)

Having More Faith in My Brain…

April 11, 2015

I’m waiting to get enough tea into me to be able to get out of here and buy binding fabric. I trimmed the big quilt yesterday afternoon…laid it out on the floor (which was already dirty again)…

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I really tried not to quilt too much extra this time…got it centered well and paid attention to whether the fabric was all the way under the top. It’s a waste of thread and time otherwise, and I hate wasting either.

Trimming this was really REALLY easy.

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This never happens, but I got the measurements right, got it totally square the FIRST TIME. No adjustments, no straightening of a side. Just cut it. Measure it. Revel in it.

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It’s about 55×64″. Not small. Now I need binding. I thought that last night as I looked at the time (crap) and then starting googling the two local shops where I could have gone. One closed in 4 minutes, the other in 34. Nope. Can’t do it. So I folded it up and decided to do it this morning. I mean, I’m sitting around waiting for the girlchild and her dad to get back from Boston anyway. I SHOULD go to school and set up for Monday’s lab (ugh. don’t make me.). I stopped by school yesterday to show my Belgian sister where I work and ran into another teacher, who is now ready for Monday. The thing is, I’m not MENTALLY ready to get ready for Monday, if that makes sense. Then I would have to admit Spring Break is almost over. I mean, technically it IS over, because I never count the weekends. So yeah. How many more weeks until summer? Ten weeks. Ugh. Major ugh.

Sometimes this job really sucks it out of you. I know what my to-do list looks like for next week, and I want to crawl back into bed.

But NO! I went over to my parents for dinner again and came back tired again. But I’m trained now, after over 20 months of teaching myself to make art almost every single day, I can’t possibly lie around and do nothing.

By the way, I read this…


And loved it. Read it in less than 36 hours. Interesting science. Good story. So that was part of Thursday and Friday. It’s been a while since I’ve read something that engaged my brain so well.

So I have this second recycled quilt I need to do…it’s been sitting around in pieces in a box for a few weeks…

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So I started ironing it around 9:45 PM last night…like you do. Yes, when you are considering sleep, I am considering more work.

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It’s only 160 pieces, so it won’t take long, right? And I don’t have to finish it tonight. Or do I?

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I got this far and thought, I’m tired. I could stop. Nah. Can’t. Stop.

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These fabrics are all from Mariah’s outcasts.

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So I had to consider what I had, because mostly it was long strips of fabric. And it wasn’t always easy to find enough of what I wanted. But it turned out OK. I think I pieced one arm. Not that you could tell.

Then I pulled out the background.

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All pieced from her leftovers. This is at least three different quilts I think. Maybe. And everyone is telling me it’s not going to work, that the background is too strong. But so I talked to Mariah about this. Part of where my brain is going is that Mariah herself currently has a life like that background, with a 2-year-old, an 11-week-old, recently left work, trying to make all of her life parts work, financially, socially, not going nuts being stuck at home with small children who can drive you freakin’ bonkers (I remember that feeling, distinctly). So it almost feels like your life is going to swallow you up, that all you are is mom and cleaner and food source and there is no time to be you (I’m fairly sure she’s not quilting at the moment!) or to even just have a quiet moment without someone fussing or screaming or throwing things.

And you manage it. It might feel like it’s going to take you over, but you manage it. Sometimes by the skin of your teeth. Sometimes with tears pouring out of your eyes. But you manage it.

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And honestly, she’s not really fading into the background. I moved her around a bit to get the hands on darker sections instead of really light sections. But I think with the quilting that it will be exactly what I wanted it to be. Is it different? Well yeah. It has to be. It’s Mariah’s bits and pieces subjected to Kathy’s mind…Kathy who went through all that 17-plus years ago.

Anyway. Stitch down next, then sandwich and quilt. Then we’ll see where we are, because I will do something overall on the background anyway, quilting of some sort. But I think it’s exactly what I imagined. Despite the moments when I thought “what the fuck are you thinking here? This will never work.” Kinda like my life over the last 17 years. Probably what Mariah thinks in the middle of the day sometimes.

I guess I should have more faith in my own brain.

I Know How She Feels…

March 27, 2015

I think this recycled quilt titled itself last night…yet another quilt title pulled from some Star Trek episode. Anyway, we’ll see if it sticks. I finished ironing all the pieces last night. This was the hair…

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Yeah. I tried a bunch of combinations and this is what I liked…although I think the dark purple got pulled from the hair and put into something else.

I used 34 fabrics total…and I’ll keep them in here until everything is ironed down…

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Just in case I lost something, but also because I might make more oranges. It took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to pick the fabrics. It was an hour and 40 minutes to piece the background.

It’s not a big pile like the last quilt…

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So I started cutting it out, because it wasn’t very late.

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I didn’t get all the way through it though, because the day ahead of all this had been kind of a nasty one.

Here’s my best zoo picture…

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I know how she feels.

The thing about field trips is that it’s hell until you get on the bus, and then usually it’s fine until you get back. I had one kid issue before (made her cry) and one kid issue after (made her leave), but otherwise it was fine. Exhausting and blood-sugar-killing, but fine. I’m not sure all of the adults are still speaking to each other, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue. I think we all need a break. OK, I know I need a break. Even if it means bringing 20 hours of grading home with me, at least I don’t have to be in the classroom, dealing with adults and kids and air conditioning (they found a temporary fix) and a network that’s not working and parents who can’t parent and expect me to do it for them and kids who can’t follow basic rules.

One day to survive. I heard a couple kids talking about how they weren’t coming to school today because they didn’t feel like it. I also considered that, but then realized that wasn’t fair to my school, my team, or my kids. But interesting. My mom would have forced me to go.

I am exhausted, physically and mentally…even emotionally. It’s funny that we’ve only been back for about 12 weeks, but we are so worn out. My Spring Break plans include finishing the smaller quilt, the recycled one; ironing down, stitching down, and starting the quilting on the Ventura Earth Mother (maybe even finishing it); cleaning house; doing yardwork; finishing all the grading; sleeping a normal amount occasionally; getting back into the gym habit (I was there last night…my SIL called me a gym rat); hiking; and reading some books. Hanging out with some people I want to hang out with…including my Belgian exchange sister from high school, who is coming to visit with two of her kids. And there’s an art opening as well at Grossmont College. So yeah, I guess it’s still busy. Of course it’s busy…I am rarely not busy…but it will be more like life and less like overwhelming stress. There’s something wrong with a job that expects so much of you, but pays you so little AND gives you so little respect. And then there’s something about the kids who hang out with you on the field trip and tell you all this goofy stuff and connect with you and we stand in front of them every day and try to get them to see a different view of the world. We’re not always successful, for sure, but sometimes we are.

With that, I do need to go survive the last day before break…

Still Standing

March 26, 2015

Hello Thursday. You don’t look like a Friday. Or a Monday. You’re already kicking my butt. I know you think a field trip with a million 7th graders to the zoo is the perfect time to throw a bunch of other shit at me, like a horrendous period and a room with a broken air conditioner when it’s going to be almost 100 degrees and a girlchild freaking out about college and an ex getting butthurt about his kids’ lack of communication skills and chaperones canceling at the last minute and parents trying to dump all their responsibilities on us and a shower that lost almost all water pressure and on top of all that, yet another art rejection.

Fuck you Thursday. I know Spring Break is coming and you have to make sure I appreciate it. I PROMISE TO APPRECIATE IT. Like teachers don’t. You’re being mean.

Anyway. Last night, I started cutting out fabrics for the second recycled quilt. Because after being at work and a work-related event until after 6 PM I couldn’t stomach more work. You know? I have two jobs. I can only spend so much time at the first one before the second one starts screaming and I curl up in a ball.

First of all, I bought these tablecloth things (or maybe they’re huge napkins…hard to say) when I was up in San Francisco…and I found them on the kitchen table yesterday and was thinking if they would work on this…

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They won’t…but I think I’m going to dye them over break.

Then I laid out my fabric stash for this quilt, all recycled from Mariah’s stash…reds, oranges, pinks, purples, yellows, whites, blacks.

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Then browns, greens, and blues (more of those, eh?).

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So I could see everything right there. And then I started thinking about the flesh. I thought about making it blue, but there’s a lot of blue in the background already. Green seemed a problem. In the end, I went for normal flesh tones…

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I don’t know if it will work, but that’s what I did. And that’s most of the pieces, so it took me a while, but I laid out all the fleshy pieces…

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You’ll notice I added another one. The ones in the middle, there were three fabrics that were all the same tone, so I just used all of them for pieces that should be in that range. I had to piece one section on the lightest fabric, because it was bigger than the strip I had. I’ve done that before, so it’s not a problem. I just added a little piece of Wonder Under to one end after I cut the larger Wonder Under piece, so they will overlap and no one will ever know. Except I just told all of you. Huh. I’ve done it before. You didn’t notice then.

I didn’t start until almost 10:30…I did some cleaning and I booked my son’s return flight from college and there was dinner, albeit late. And I don’t remember what else I did. I’m sure it was important.

These are the fabrics I’ve used so far, all part of the body.

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I haven’t done her hair yet or the orange…but otherwise, I think everything else is done. There’s only 160 pieces…and here’s what I ironed last night…

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Not a lot of color yet! The hair will be the interesting part…and no, I haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Maybe tonight. If I’m still standing.


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