Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I'm really, really ready for spring.

Monday, March 11, 2013


If I'm not getting in my own way, how will I know where I am?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cafe Reggio

Cafe Reggio, in the Village. I first came here as a college student in the mid 1980's. I'm fairly certain it was my friend Lynn who brought me here. I can recall her voice, and her telling me, "They have the most beautiful Italian boys waiting tables there. Trust me." Sure enough, she was right, though I became enamored of it more for the good, cheap food on the menu. I spent 4 years in art school Hungry All The Time.

Currently, most weekends I try to spend one day (or a good portion of it) walking around the city. This serves two purposes: the first is exercise, which I don't get enough of on a daily basis working from my home, and second, the opportunity to "map" more of the city on my frontal cortex (or wherever the brain stores navigational info). I have no sense of direction whatsoever. I read once that, like under-eye circles (another burden I shoulder), a sense of direction is a genetic thing. You're either born with one or not. I most decidedly was not. In the first letter I wrote to the woman who, in fact, turned out to be my biological mother, I inquired as to whether she had any problems in this area. I wouldn't have held it against her, of course, but as it happens, she can find her way around the world just fine. So maybe it skips a generation, like baldness?

Anyway. I took myself into Greenwich Village for my weekend perambulation with the express purpose of revisiting Cafe Reggio. It is mostly unchanged, though it feels even smaller and more claustrophobic than in my memory. But, no, it is the same as it ever was, with the tiny phone booth bathroom in the room center, that always made you feel like you were basically peeing in full public view. I had the stuffed croissant. It came with pickles and potato salad and I enjoyed it while reading a several-weeks-old New Yorker. And an excellent cafe latte. Though I sat by myself, I was only inches away from my fellow patrons. It's the sort of place you can go to if you are alone, but don't necessarily want to feel that way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fabric Hoarding

I began amassing a “stash” of fabrics shortly after becoming fully entrenched in quilt-making. I had begun to read other quilter’s blogs, and quickly realized that in order to really be able to compose the quilts I had begun to see in my mind’s eye, I needed to have a ready palette of supplies. I managed to spend an ungodly amount of money laying in fabrics that first year. Something I justified to myself at the time by thinking, "I am going to make a business of this one way or the other, so they will all be put to use at some point."

Ahem. Anyway. During the height of my insane fabric acquisition, I mostly (almost entirely) purchased fabric online. I soon learned that what might look charming onscreen (particularly during insomniac 3 a.m. binge buys) can look less than appealing in person. In short, I managed to buy a LOT of fabric that I soon dubbed the butt-uglies. How would I ever use that stuff, I wondered. Blaghhh. A waste of money! But NOT, actually.

I think for many quilters (I can certainly say so for myself) there is a pleasure in using up every last scrap of fabric. It somehow justifies the often high price one pays for good fabric - that you are at least using every bit of it. So there is a sort of weird (largely false) frugality that can go along with quilt-making. My point being that even though I inevitably hated a certain amount of the fabric that was arriving in my mailbox, by god, I was still going to use it. And, in truth, I soon learned the importance of ugly fabric to beautiful quilt-making.

During some early quilt experiments, I realized that using only the pretty fabrics I loved often resulted in less-than-satisfying, sort-of even maybe insipid quilts. How to fix this, I wondered. I started pulling from the butt-uglies, in part to “extend” or “fill” the quilts I was working on - though I might have initially wanted to use only that lovely Amy Butler fabric for the whole top, I found I often didn’t have enough, and acquiring enough was too cost-prohibitive.

So I started adding any also-rans that could work somehow with the color scheme I had come up with. And what I found, by and large, was that the uglies didn’t compromise the quilt as I had feared, but instead, helped ground it, offered a backdrop for the “starring” fabrics. That they were, in fact, completely necessary as a foil to the beautiful ones. I now regularly scan my stash, when in the beginning process of a new quilt, for the unlikely fabric additions, the ones that are going to act as a foil and counterpoint to the beauty queens.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Grand Central NYC

I'm thinking about doing maybe a series of quilts using Grand Central as the starting point. I shot some snaps last weekend. Mulling.

David Butler at Quiltcon

I really enjoyed his lecture - appreciated that he was so forthcoming about how they pulled off their photo shoots - the pretty basic camera and lo-tech gear. Many photographers wield their knowledge like a club, trying to trip you up or expose you as less informed/capable/in-the-know than they are. There can be a lot of one-upmanship (in my experience), so it was refreshing that he was so candid and willing to demystify their process - there's no huge crew creating elaborate sets, just stuff they set up in their house made of foamboard and prints. Local non-professional models. He relies on post-production to make everything work.