Monday, May 27, 2013

Art Quilt

I'm not sure how it happened. I think it began by pinning a couple art quilts which caught my eye on Pinterest. First they went on to my Quilting Board but I soon created an Art Quilts board as I found myself drawn to pin more and more art quilts. I had never seen quilts like these before; their colors, textures, and designs captivated my imagination and gave me courage that I could play with fabric and principles of design as I ventured into new creative avenues with recycled fabrics.

After a couple months of admiring and pinning, I decided to attempt my first art quilt. The boys bedroom was slowly morphing into a guest room and I needed a wall hanging to replace the baseball poster. The room already had some bold colors, including a dark red Bedouin rug with some orange and black accents. I wanted to make this art quilt entirely out of recycled fabrics and decided to begin with my felted wool, which I felt would give me the textures and colors I wanted to go with the bold, minimalist decor of the room.

I knew that I must be gentle with myself and begin simply, and so I chose to do uneven Log Cabin squares, imitating this scrap quilt design by textile artist Victoria Gertenbach. I used scraps and then pulled pieces from some other sweaters to achieve the color scheme I wanted.

It was very easy to cut the pieces for this 3 feet/1meter square quilt--I didn't measure as I used my rotary cutter and quilting ruler to cut a collection of strips of varying widths and trimmed these strips to their required length as I created my squares. The seams don't show here, but they are completely flat as I butted the edges of the wool together and zig-zagged them.

 I found a used denim curtain panel at the second-hand market, which I used for the back of the quilt. The middle layer is a cotton flannel sheet, also recycled, and the binding is fashioned from denim shirt scraps. I quilted all three layers as I zig-zagged the finished squares together, so it only has four actual quilting lines. I made a three inch sleeve that runs the length of the top of the quilt. Dear Husband engineered the rest of the hanging apparatus using a scrap piece of wood (from an old bookshelf) Much to his delight, was able to hang it on the nail/screw which held the baseball poster, as he doesn't like to put too many holes in the wall. Drilled concrete is not easily patched.

When Artist Son arrived, I enjoyed discussing the color and design principles of this quilt. I think there actually are some, though I don't know how to talk about them well--I'm learning. I've noticed that the "random" look is not randomly achieved and that I choose colors carefully, even for a design that sort of looks thrown together. I find one of the greatest satisfactions of finishing a project is, besides the finished project, the permission I give myself to begin dreaming of and plotting the next project...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Garden Journal~May 2013

Last month I did my first Garden Journal post as I thought it would be interesting to document the progress of our gardening efforts and to begin a record of what blooms when. Below is the right side of our garden, one month later. All my bulbs have finished blooming and now the perennials are taking the stage, though many of my seedlings are still too small to provide any visual pleasure. I'm just trying to keep them alive by giving them enough water and protecting them from snails. I've lost a few small plants, but most of them are thriving.

Dear Husband added four teucrium  bushes, drought resistant plants with silver/green foliage and lavender flowers.  They should grow another foot or two, providing a visual wall between the garden and the front concrete wall.

My tomatoes, which were three to six inch seedlings a month ago, have produced their first blossoms this week. Lesson learned: I had a few extra seedlings, which I threw out after I planted the garden. I should have saved them as pests destroyed a few of my seedlings. The basil is doing well, too, and I'm trying to resist picking it too much so that it can really take off. I know that pinching off basil encourages new growth, but I was hardly giving mine a chance to grow!

I planted a few  varieties of tomatoes, and their plant shape/height is quite different.

My healthiest coneflower is slowly blossoming--the flowers are slow to open, but they do last for a long time. I planted a number of coneflower seedlings this spring in two different colors, but I don't know if they'll mature enough to bloom this season.

The Russian sage has bloomed. It was already established before Dear Husband erected the canopy--it's sort of half in/half out, but unless it gets a lot bigger, I don't think we'll have to relocate it.

The left side of the garden has a few mature perennials and lots of seedlings.

The Grosso lavender plant that I stowed away in my carry-on luggage last September has survived and I'm enjoying its first blooms this week. The mature French lavender has finished its first bloom and I've cut it back. The Hidcote, begun by seed a few years ago is blooming, too. I used to be proud that I started these from seeds, but I've since learned that you "shouldn't" start lavender from seed as the plant quality in unreliable. It's better to propagate from an existing plant or buy a plant that has been started that way. 

The Leonotis has just begun blooming, providing a nice contrast to all the purple blooms I seem to favor.

Below is one of of the salvia plants I began from seed. While some garden pest has gnawed away at a few bottom leaves, the plant is otherwise thriving, albeit with a weird half-albino leaf thing going on. I've searched around on the internet to see what the problem could be but haven't yet come up with anything. If anyone knows, please inform me. I have a couple other seedlings grown from the same pack of seeds but none of them are affected. Ironically, this is the biggest and otherwise healthiest seedling of the bunch.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Artist Son's Birth Day

May 16, 1994 was Artist Son's due date, but with no imminent signs of labor, Dear Husband cautiously proceeded with his plans to spend the day in the northern city of Irbid, about one and a half hours from Amman. A neighbor and dear friend was standing by to watch Oldest Daughter (4) and Active Son (2) should I need to go to the hospital. It was lovely May afternoon, the children were playing here and there, in the house, and in the garden, and I was stationed in the kitchen, my in-between house and garden world, as I often was these days. What better time to prepare a large pot of fasulia--green been, beef , garlic, and tomato stew--a favorite family dish which I prepared more often in the spring when the green beans are fresh and tender.

I recall stirring the stew and calling Dear Husband when I felt my first mild I-think-that-might-have-been-a-contraction. Maybe. Given my previous labor experiences, that was enough to bring Dear Husband back to Amman posthaste.

I can't remember if I called my doctor before or after Dear Husband arrived home, but either way we headed to the hospital together to meet him. At this point I still hadn't really had many contractions but the nurses in the labor room confirmed that yes, Artist Son would be arriving soon.

At this point my doctor entered the labor room to inform us that there was no room for us in the inn, and if I stayed at this hospital  I would have to recover and possibly sleep in the labor room, and all this without my baby by my side after his delivery. He had done some checking, and there was a suite available at a neighboring hospital, the new maternity hospital, so we made the easy decision to go there. I was already "dressed" for delivery, so had to redress in my street clothes, after which Dear Husband and I walked the three blocks to the alternate hospital and checked in.

Artist Son was born a couple hours later, troubling me with only a handful of mild contractions before the big ones took over and quickly brought him into the world.

Artist Son in his flannel hospital gown

Upon looking through our photo album, I see that we're improving a bit in documenting our children's arrivals in photographs...

...and we even managed a family photo in which it appears we did our best to look nice. 

Artist Son's nineteenth birthday finds him traveling between his two worlds, from Gordon College in Massachusetts where he has just completed his freshman year, home to us in Jordan. Homecoming preparations are underway and we so look forward to his unique presence among us again. Happy Birthday, Artist Son! We thank God for you and for all the ways in which you are a blessing to each one of us, and to our family. Godspeed! Tayta will have your birthday tiramisu waiting.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Flowering Jordan Calendar~May 2013

Wildflower spotting: along the road between Irbid and Um Qais during a particularly lovely Jordan spring.