Sunday, November 06, 2016

I've been practicing

It's been a little bit over a year since I started quilting with a machine.

I had wanted to try it for years and it was another one of those not-ever-getting-around-to-it things. I like making quilts. I like putting fabric together like a collage, to make new patterns out of existing. I think mostly I just really like color and pattern and how they interact.

But mostly I'd just paid attention to the putting-together bits and not to the part about combining it into a coherent whole. I very much admire the work of other machine quilters. I know how to hand quilt, and have done so, but it's slow. I don't have a lot of free time. I know many people get satisfaction out of slow handwork, and I do too (see also the piles of knitting). But I very much wanted some things to be FINISHED. I wanted them to be DONE.

I figured I had to start somewhere. So here's where I started. I had a couple of books and some instructions to get me going. I did a lot of these little practice sandwiches, messing with tension and the sewing machine settings. Later I moved onto bigger practice sandwiches.

I used to dislike practice when I was growing up. But I adore it now: when I practice I don't have to be perfect. I can mess up and say "oops" and it's OK and move on. Because it's practice.

I eventually actually completed an entire machine-quilted quilt. Yes I did.

It was also practice, just a more complete one. This is a cheater cloth I've had stashed away (for practicing on) for YEARS. I don't even want to admit how many. The quilt isn't all that good, but hey, I'm new at this, and it doesn't have to be anything but a pathway to getting better. (For you non-quilters, a cheater cloth is one that is pre-printed with a design. None of that is fabric sewn together except the outside yellow border and the green binding and the backing)

Also, it does indeed help to use a back that obscures the stitches.

It took a long time to work on a quilt top that was "nice," on which I specifically wanted to do a good job. Not so much practice as performance. The first top that I felt ready to quilt, and I wanted it to look good, was Circus Tents. I remember I had a lot of fun putting the top together. The dark blue is a good foil for bright colors, and I could go pretty wild on the tent stripes. I maybe have a thing for wild prints.

I decided to do some meandering stars in the blue parts, and then whatever I felt like in the stripes. If I don't enjoy doing the quilting, why bother to do it? So I'm going to do what I like.

I'm still not so great. But I'm better than where I started. Even better, I've found that I actually enjoy the quilting. And I REALLY am enjoying actually finishing up things that have been lurking around for so many years.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

California is a strange place

I spent my weekend trying to decide how to vote. In San Francisco, there are:
  • 17 state propositions
  • 1 regional proposition
  • 24 local propositions
That list, of course, doesn't even include candidates for office.

My ballot is 4 legal-size pages long, printed front and back. The voter guide from the state (which includes propositions, general info, overview of state bond debt, and 1 page of US Senate candidate statements) is 224 pages. I hear the local guide is 300 pages (but fortunately you can opt-out of having that dead tree mailed to you.)

If you're curious, here's all the state propositions, rendered in haiku. Because.

The legislative analyst(s?) who write the analysis of each of the propositions had a good time this year. They actually do a fairly good job of putting the legalese into a readable summary. For instance, I now know how adult jail sentencing works, and what exactly e-cigarettes are. Hooray for education.

Other things explained:
"How do Individuals Use Marijuana?"
"Adult films are also commonly called 'pornography'"

While I support being more involved in democracy, with 42 measures, if you spent only 10 minutes reading each one (the summary, the analysis, maybe glance through the statements for and against and the rebuttals), that still requires 7 hours. How many people will spend that much time? Let alone hunt down other voter guides and read other opinions.