Sunday, December 19, 2021

Are You Experiencing a Baby Tsunami?

I don't know about your world, but in mine, there's a monumental Covid baby boom.

It's apparent that young adults didn't have anything better to do nine months ago - after making sourdough, resin art, beer and kombucha. They finally said, "What the heck!"

My favorite kind of quilt to make for potential and extant babies is an "Everything in the World" quilt. The theory behind this quilt is that, while all the baby experts say parents should talk to their babies constantly, they don't tell them what to say. "Aren't you a cutie-pie?" and "That's an excellent poop!" gets old quick. So this quilt is designed to spark conversation. Here are two, hot off the machine.

Each quilt has 108 different fabrics. I cut four inch squares for these quilts all year long,  Whenever I pull a kid-friendly novelty fabric out for any reason, I cut a couple of squares from it.

Then, when someone has a baby, I go through the squares and sew them into nine-patches. My nine-patches usually have theme: dogs and cats; imaginary or anthropomorphic animals (animals golfing, fishing, etc); humans; household objects; transportation; healthy food; junk food; holidays (Halloween; Chanukah, Passover, Christmas); things that fly (mythological or real); things that float in water, etc. 

Below, you can see a "Humanity" themed 9-patch. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in the center. (I found the RGB fabric at Joann's online, not in stores). A Dutch fabric brought to me from Holland is in the upper left, Tokyo-themed fabric is in the lower right; there are lips, hands, and eyes (the latter are from a Halloween fabric, and they glow in the dark.)

Next, the top row is things that fly (including Harry Potter and cows-in-nursery-rhymes, ladybugs, Mighty Mouse,), and Animals, Other, are under that.  The anteater fabric on pink is my absolute favorite these days. 

Hopefully, this next patch will spark much nutrition education for the baby.

Sometimes my categories puzzle even me. The next one was supposed to be a "household items" nine patch, so why did I throw in a robot? (Lost in Space? Roomba?) Also, what baby born in 2021 will experience vinyl records? (Hopefully at Grandma's house). Let alone stamps, as the US post office teeters.
The next segment shows my Jewish studies nine-patch (bottom-center, see the matzoh?), surrounded on the left by sea life (Yellow submarine with Paul, shell, rubber ducky, octopus, kayak), sports (above the sea life); food-related (radishes, forks, citrus, pasta, middle top); random animals on the upper right (zebra, lizards, festive penguins); and more household objects on the lower right (chair, fireplace, thread spools, whistle, keyboard, cowboy hats - just the important stuff.)

To assist parents even further, I throw in most of my black-and-white prints, especially in the border/outermost round of squares, even if they're not necessarily juvenile prints. My own experiments with my babies has proven to my satisfaction that babies really do like looking at black-and-white patterns - I've literally seen them stop crying when presented with some of my better black-and-white fabrics. It's gravy if these fabrics have to be explained at length. The borders that you can see below include dalmations, crowns (as in royalty), screws, dice (they're never too young to be taught about Las Vegas), tree trunks, etc.

For a fabriholic like me, however, there's one flaw in this system - some fabrics are just too wonderful to cut up. Like this amazing Tula Pink fabric. The unicorns are huge, I only had a fat-quarter, and a 4" square wouldn't have the impact that a giant piece has. 

So this fabric got to star in its own baby quilt. While it won't give the baby a LOT to talk about, it will hopefully fall in love with the beautiful rendering. 

And I put a collection of black-and-white 4" squares on the back, in case the mother must sedate the baby quickly. The center was yet another fabric that I didn't want to cut up. 
So tell me - is there a baby boom in your world, too?

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Photoshop Your Quilt into Different Quilts

My big idea was to create a building under construction, based on some of my New York City photos, especially of the building on the left.

To capture the sense of looking directly inside rooms, I drafted a foundation paper piecing patterns. It's constructed in strips. Here are the top portions of two of the strips. 

And here's what it looked like, all sewn up. It didn't give as much of a sense of space as I'd hoped.  

It's very small - most  pieces are an inch or less - so there was no obvious way to slice it apart, to turn it into something else. 

But while doing routine editing of the image in Photoshop, I decided to play with some of the filters. I am not great at Photoshop, but I do know how to click on things, in this case, the menu items under "Filter Gallery".  

First, "glowing edges." To my surprise, this image gave MORE of a sense of a building under construction than the fabric version! It also bears a strong resemblance to my original foundation pattern!
I'm titling the next experiment, "Jaws 1". I see circling sharks. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the command I used. I also have no idea how one could make this in fabric, except maybe through extremely intricate applique. 

Here's what the "pinch" command produced: 

"Polar coordinates":
Here: "Shear" 
This looks like rick-rack.
"Zigzag" command: Jaws 2: The sharks are speeding up.
Jaws 3: The sharks are going so fast that they are exuding global  centrifugal forces, causing tsunamis.
This came from the "stained glass" command. This design could be replicated precisely, with English Paper Piecing, but you'd have to number every paper piece, and add arrows showing which end is up. Cutting and sewing the pieces together would take years. 
However, the program allows you to reduce the number of cells, which creates something very doable.
To that image, I added Glowing Edges. How cool is this? It looks like a modern stained glass quilt.

"Extrude": Looks like a helicopter view of a city of LEGO skyscrapers. 

My favorite - "spherize" - because the results look so real.
Adding "glowing edges," a potential pattern emerges. 
There is one easy way to make any and all of the "impossible" quilts: Print them onto fabric, from your home printer, or through a service like, and then quilt it! 

More ways to play with your photos of quilts, and then transfer them to fabric to create a new quilt, is in a 2014 blog post, here . My experience with miniaturizing and printing entire quilts via Spoonflower is here.  

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Capitol Crochet, Part II: The Insurrection

In my last post, I showed off a very happy 2021 inauguration crochet scene, here. To recap the highlights, I made a whole lot of jubilant and competent people, diligently wearing masks (except when called upon to speak or sing.)

Plus a Capitol building:

When I showed it off on Facebook, friends asked me if I would do the insurrection next. No way, I thought. Crochet, almost by definition, makes sweet and adorable objects. How could you  crochet murderous cruelty and delusion?

But I couldn't let the idea go. In the late 70s/early 80s, I lived in Washington DC, part of that time in a townhouse on Capitol Hill. Every morning, I walked a few blocks to the Capitol, up the back steps, down the front steps, across the Mall, and up to my office in Dupont Circle. I developed great affection for the Capitol and the Mall, and especially for the happy wandering tourists from far-flung places. So the January 6 insurrection, defiling a place I truly loved, hit me personally.

After debating with myself for a while, I gave it a shot. (No pun intended.)

There's a Hitler worshipper. His hat says "abuse," which could stand for what he was doing to Capitol police officers, or what happened to him in his childhood, or both. 

There's KKK bat guy.
Boxcutter guy.

Hairy backpack man. I couldn't bear to embroider a real swastika, so I did it wrong.
The nail in his backpack could give you tetanus.
He's best friends with bullet vest guy, and they brought a ladder.
Bullet vest closeups. I bought the empty casings on ebay years ago, for a different social statement crochet project. (It involved a yarn gun). 
Vest guy believes he is a Christian. 
Knitting needle guy stabs the dome. 
Gallows guy. The hat says "hate." 
They all need help; some need prison. Here's the lineup. 
I don't really know what to do with all this. At the moment, I think of it as a playset that will allow me to work through my feelings surrounding perhaps the most bizarre month in American history, January 2021

Revisit the much more cheerful Inauguration crochet playset here

Capitol Crochet, Part 1: A Happy Inauguration

Inspired by the Bernie Sanders memes after the January presidential inauguration, I decided to crochet my own version. I didn't use a pattern - I just made him up as I went along, crocheting in spirals. He had a brief fling with the cat.

That was so much fun, I wound up making five of them, as gifts, plus one auctioned on ebay to benefit a food bank. Their clothing comes off, including, in most cases, the mittens.

The fifth one was my special edition Valentine's Day Bernie, showing off his chest like Putin (but with a tattoo, and no horse): 

One thing led to the other. Before I knew it, I'd crocheted a whole lot of inaugural figures:

And a Capitol building:

On the dome is my rendition of the statue of freedom, with scissors and earring serving as sword and shield, in a color that honors the people who built the building, who were anything but free. 

Here are Joe and Jill Biden, with bible, standing ready for the swear-in. 
In real life, Dr. Biden's beaded dress was exquisite. In my version, cheapo plastic pearls did the job.
All the clothes comes off. 
But because she is the First Lady, and holds a doctorate, I won't strip her down here.
In real life, Dr. Biden was actually wearing a  more somber shade of blue.
The Obamas are eternally adorable, even in masks.
Next, Kamala Harris, with her escort at the event, American hero and snappy dresser Officer Eugene Goodman
Kamala reenacts her big moment: 
I think that's a purple jumpsuit underneath. 
I don't know if she was really wearing Chucks on her feet, but I hope so! They go with the pearls.

The gorgeous Amanda Gorman is wearing my mother's earrings.
Lady Gaga sported a massively oversized bird pin (also from my mother's collection).
This thing takes up an entire small tabletop, and I'm not really sure what to do with it. Especially because it was about to grow significantly - and take a much darker turn.