25 April, 2008

The Seven Wonders of Cheryl

Okay, so it won't be that momentous. Elizabeth over at My Crafty Mess tagged me and I thought I would highlight some little known (or too well known) facts about me. My profile is detailed, but there are always things to learn.

1. I cannot make jello or rice krispie squares
I nearly went to culinary school instead of grad school, but I cannot - for the life of me - get either of these to work. My jello never sets and my rice krispie squares are rock hard. Sad, but true. Oatmeal cookies are also a challenge for me, but today may have been a turning point. Thank-you Martha.

2. I absolutely hate coffee
Or anything coffee flavoured, including mocha, tiramisu, or Kalhua. Yech. Just last week I accidentally grabbed my husband's Americano instead of my Chai. I nearly did the full spit out and splatter all over the Monster. Thankfully it was a small taste and I immediately started eating my bratwurst to ge the taste out of my mouth. What is truly shocking about this fact is that I more or less paid my way through undergrad by working in coffee shops. I can make a mean espresso.

3. I cannot sing - at all, ever
It is rather frightening to hear me attempt a lullaby or sing along to the radio. Thank goodness the Monster has no judgement. I was in the choir in elementary school, but was still blamed by the entire choir (over 50 kids) when we lost the Kiwanis Music Festival one year. In university I dated I guy who was firmly convinced that everyone could sing, and that everyone liked coffee. After singing for him one night he had to amend both statements.

4. I am a bit of an exhibitionist
Hey, isn't everyone who blogs a bit of one? One year there was a large music festival, called EdgeFest, with 10,000 people attending and over a dozen bands. Hole was the headliner. By the time they started I was in the middle of the mosh pit. At one point Courtney Love flashed the audience. Feeling flush - and a little drunk - I flashed her back. She pointed me out after a song and said that someone with boobs like mine should get on stage. Before I could think a bouncer grabbed my arms and pulled me over the fence and helped me get on stage. I spent the rest of the show on stage, dancing and singing along. I wish I could end the story there, but alas, I then felt the need to flash the entire crowd. The way I figure it, the girls looked damn good then (unlike my post-nursing girls) and I was proud of them. Yet, when I went to New Orleans I managed to keep my top on. The girls gone wild days are long gone...

5. I once got stuck to a bathtub
To be honest, it actually happened twice. We used to live in a house with an old clawfoot, cast iron tub. I was having a glorious hot bath one night but when I shifted positions I felt this suction in the small of my back. I literally got stuck to the tub. I struggled for a few minutes to free myself, but only made it worse. Then I started calling for my Hubby, then my boyfriend. He couldn't hear me, but our roommate did. I kept screaming, "Get Morgan, I'm stuck to the tub!" Roomie couldn't stop laughing all the way down the stairs to get him. By the time he got to the top of the stairs I had managed to get a finger between my back and the tub to break the seal. I had a hickey the size of a dessert plate on my lower back. It happened again a few months later. I blame the tub, it attacked me.

6. I nearly froze to death
At 11:00 pm on a Friday night a friend asked me to go with him to visit his friend at another school about an hour and a half away. Terribly in like with him I said yes, despite the fact that it was a raging Maritime blizzard and he wanted to hitchhike. We took the bus to the edge of town and stuck our thumbs out. Ben usually had the luck that someone was going all the way from Halifax to Wolfville. Not that night. After a few short rides, only taken because we needed a break from the wind, we got stuck in the next town from Wolfville. Maybe we should have just walked to Wolfville, but instead we thought we would take shelter in a barn we could see from the road. Unfortunately, the barn was little more than two sided hay storage and offered no relief. So we crossed the field and went into town. We tried to get someone to let us in from a cold vestibule of an apartment building. No luck - and can you blame them? Finally we found a heated vestibule with a kind security guard who made us promise we would be gone before any of the seniors in the building woke up. After a few hours of cold, cuddled sleep we walked onto the street where one guy was trying to clear the roads in his truck. He proceeded to tell us how his wife had kicked him out of the house because he was drinking. Clearing the town roads seemed like a logical thing for him to do. We walked in the opposite direction. In a few minutes we found a recently opened gas station with a small diner inside. After the best breakfast we walked outside, into the middle of the road - our drunk driving plowman never made it this far - and stuck our thumbs out to the first car going by. A wonderful lady drove us all the way to our friends house, just 15 minutes away. I never hitchhiked again.

7. Politics was once a desire of mine
I wanted to be the first female Prime Minister of Canada. Then Kim Cambell won the Liberal leadership and became PM, albeit briefly. Oddly, I never thought about politics again.

22 April, 2008

Green is Not Just a Colour

Lately I’ve been thinking about the environmental impact of craft. In particular, my craft – quilting. There is a perception that quilting is inherently environmental – at least in the past. The use of scraps from clothing and functional items put together in patterns to make something both utilitarian and beautiful. It sounds like the perfect example of upcycling (making something better than the original) rather than recycling.

Sure, there are still quilters these days that only make things from scraps – dutifully saving pieces as small as 1 by 1 inch squares to create masterpieces. But let’s be honest, most long term quilters have impressive stashes of fabrics. And those stashes are filled with fabric that could be years old, in pieces rarely smaller than a fat quarter and sometimes a few metres, because you never know what you might use it for. There are discussion groups around the sorting and storage of said fabric, books about using it up, challenges to create something without buying anything new, and even the assignment of all that fabric in wills.
Quantity is one thing, quality is another entirely. Most of us use 100% cotton exclusively. Art quilters and some creative folks will design and experiment with vintage polyesters, blends, or wools. Generally we think that 100% cotton quilts with cotton batts are of the highest quality, and proudly give our creations away to give comfort and warmth. As we should.
But, and this is the but that’s been bothering me lately, what goes into making and dying that fabric? I know you can get organic cottons these days. And sometimes you can even find some more creative or colorful options, instead of the unbleached cottons that typify green fabric. I’m not sure, however, I can give up my whites and my bold prints. So, I’ve been trying to get more info on the entire fabric creation process – from cotton growth to dye content. Unfortunately, I’m not having a lot of luck because the manufacturers don’t like to share that info. I’ll keep digging and report on my findings.
The other big issue I think about is the waste. Sure, I keep all my useful scraps. Smaller pieces get put in a bag (a plastic ziptop... I know) to be donated to someone who makes Project Linus scrap quilts. Bigger pieces I do keep because I do like to paper piece and those odd pieces come in handy. But what about all the selvages, the thread clippings, the batting scraps, the empty spools, the used patterns, the freezer paper, and all the other garbage left over? As far as I can tell the only thing that can be recycled, at least in our market, are the empty plastic spools.
For an interesting experiment I’ve been keeping all the garbage from the latest project, the baby quilt. When I am finished I will post pictures – of the garbage and the quilt.
On top of all this, there is simply the matter of the energy used in production of the materials we use and the creations we ourselves put together. How many work by candlelight in a wood heated house with scraps that we piece together and quilt by hand? Yeah, I thought so. So, just for me I have to account for the energy used by my sewing machine, iron, Ott light, overhead light, and stereo (a girl needs tunes to keep her going). And in the winter, I sew in the New York open concept loft-style basement, sometimes necessitating that I turn up the furnace a degree, although I am still wearing slippers and a cozy sweater (my basement is damn cold with no insulation).
Hmm, maybe I need to add in the digital photography and computer use now that I am blogging.
Don’t forget about water use. Prewashing, washing, ironing, blocking… All that water has to be treated, transported, heated, used, and then treated again. What about detergents or other chemical products like starch or sizing? That goes into our water supply as well.
I haven’t found the answers yet for all my questions, and I will keep investigating. I can only account for quilting and the little bit of other sewing I do. That means I can’t comment on other crafts. Do scrapbookers keep their bits or recycle? What about painters?
To get you started on your own journey to greening your own craft world I’ve put together some links of good green links for us quilters and crafters.
Crafting a Green World is an excellent site that covers all types of craft and how you can use craft in an environmentally friendly way. They have some great Earth Day posts that I need to devour for info.
Sew Green has some good links and resources, and is written by designers.
For some fabulous green fabrics, check out Mod Green Pod and NearSea Naturals.
Of course, I have to provide some basic cotton information, a la Wiki.

17 April, 2008

Little Bits of Knits

Yesterday was a very rough day for our household. Beyond the dredging up of sad memories with hospital visits and the bad news for a close colleague and mentor, we spent the morning discussing my father's cancer and potential treatment.

My father was diagnosed with lung cancer a few weeks back. Hardly surprising after 50 years of smoking. And still upsetting even though I am not terribly close to him. We went up to be with the family for the first oncology appointment.

It is all terribly scary and real when you walk into the cancer hospital and see so many people there - kids, seniors, moms, tough guys. You think to yourself that all these people have cancer?! But after a few minutes you look around and you see nearly everyone has two or three people with them for support. You're not sure who is supporting who - the family supporting the patient, or the patient supporting the friends. And you feel bad for the people who either chose to come alone or had no choice.

In the midst of it all you can find things to smile at. My Monster tearing up and down the halls and mooching cookies off the volunteers. The nurses giving out hugs to returning patients. And the baskets on the tables between every two or three chairs filled with little balls of yarn and a few sets of knitting needles - tiny projects started and abandoned in the anxiety of diagnosis and chemotherapy.

Next time I go I will have to ask what these end up as, or whether they are simply there to inspire some time spent in distraction or creativity.

11 April, 2008

Marimekko Week

It's been all Marimekko this week! I got my motivation to make pillows for the new couch. I absolutely love the way they turned out. I thought the Amy Butler was a perfect complement.

Nothing fancy to the pillows. I have to make a confession, I haven't a clue how to put a zipper in. So these pillows are simply a front and a back with a pocket type closure. Just two overlapping pieces of fabric for the back to keep the pillow form in place.

These pillows are a step up from our old ones. Now we have squishy pillows for those evenings where we can curl up and watch the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Monster saw them first thing this morning and rather than sit on Mama's lap she felt the need to gather all the pillows and curl in to them.
I say it's been a Marimekko week because the fabric we ordered on our weekend in Vancouver arrived. Yeah! It is exactly what I wanted. Now, if only I had the room that this fabric is destined for. No baby for at least a month so I can always dream... Ah, who am I kidding? This kid will be lucky to have a quiet place to sleep by Christmas! But I can dream and fondle the fabric.

Finally, what should I find on a lunch break? A store right near my office, Kit Interiors, that carries Marimekko! Damn, and guess what fabric they had on the bolt? Oh well, the ladies from the Vancouver store took care of us and I was more than happy to see an entire store devoted to Marimekko. But I did indulge a little and buy some cards. Yes, it's been a Marimekko week! You can't ask for much more in a material way to make you smile. And check out the Marimekko blog for fabulous ideas and new products!

05 April, 2008

And Sometimes

You are forced to bed, at least temporarily. I was so excited to finish the next step the baby quilt last night. Hubby was setting up our new toy (HD TV) so I hid in the basement and fueled my insomnia with getting all the circles done for the baby quilt. Today I was looking forward to a bunch of stuff but contractions are forcing me to rest.

And here I was going to finally make those pillows for our new couch, make some strawberry jam (already!), and take the Monster out to play in the snow we got through the night. Oh well. For now Hubby is out shopping with the Monster and I lay in bed with my tea and cookies.