Sunday, February 27


I think I may owe an apology to one of the demonstrators at the Planned Parenthood rally in NYC.

Here’s what happened: Thousands of us assembled peaceably in Foley Square. Many, like me, came over from City Hall Park where we had rallied in support of workers’ rights, in particular in Wisconsin, but everywhere the GOP is assaulting the rights of Americans.

We were feeling great to be together, thousands of us liberals, progressives, Democrats, Socialists, whatever we call ourselves, battered by years of Right Wing lies and stratagems, angry and taking a stand against the corporate take-over of the country.

You came through the crowd carrying a sign. It had a drawing of two eggs and the line: THESE ARE NOT CHICKENS. What? What does that mean? So some people asked. And you said rather imperiously, “I’m not taking questions at this time.”

WTF? Are you kidding? I went berserk. How arrogant! I thought. And I was sure you were an agent provocateur from the right wing. I took your sign to be a “right-to-life” sign. I called you a coward. I got the crowd to chant, like the Wisconsin Democratic assembly members, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” And basically drove you away. There were no threats, there was no violence, just a lot of yelling and anger.

I got high-fives from some of the other rally-goers. It took several minutes for the adrenalin to subside. I’m sure my cheeks were flushed. A few young women standing behind me told me that the young sign-holder was, in fact, pro-choice. What? They got the distinct message that he had been misunderstood. Then why not answer our queries? Why the arrogance? I asked.

I don’t know the answer. But later, as I thought about it, it occurred to me that those young women were right. “THESE ARE NOT CHICKENS” one of the most abstruse and ridiculous signs ever, was a pro-choice sign. Given a lot of time to think about it: I got it. That’s not the best sort of sign for a rally where short, direct, punchy and clear are generally the way to go.

Had he appended some pro-choice sentence, logo, something, it wouldn’t have been misunderstood. Had he just not refused “to take questions,” had he said anything to show he was pro-choice, he wouldn’t have been verbally assaulted by me.

But as it was, he was. And I was the one who led the attack. And while I don’t feel entirely responsible, I do feel sorry. And I hope that the young man sees this and accepts my apology. But also learns a lesson: don’t create such an abstruse, hard-to-understand sign. But if you do, and people ask you about it, TELL THEM, for the love of God.

And if you recognize this young man, would you please see that he reads this? Thanks!

Tuesday, February 15


This medallion quilt top can be counted as a great success, if I do say so myself. It was created at the behest of a friend who started out years ago intending to make a very ambitious first quilt out of those octagons of Japanese prints. She got as far as adding borders of blue but there she faltered for years, not knowing what to do next. She had taken on more than she was able to do but she wanted to somehow make a quilt out of this jumble.

So she did white Sashiko stitching on nine of the octagons and I appliqued them onto pieces of the blue with white chrysanthemum print. But what then? She thought perhaps sewn together somehow they would work, and I thought that the nine in a square would make the start of an interesting medallion. Agreed. And then she gave me the rest of her octagons, some blue fabric and the bright cherry print plus a Japanese woven print she was eager to use and a little more of the chrysanthemum print to work with, and carte blanche to design a large quilt top.

I designed this as I went along, using graph paper and the limitation of the amount of available fabric which was a bit of a challenge and the reason I'm so proud of how this turned out.
The first thing I did was to trim the chrysanthemum fabric under the Sashiko octagons very carefully and then stitch them together to form my center square. I added a border of the bright cherry print and triangles of blue so that it could be set on point which always adds a lot of interest to medallions, I think. It also adds size which was important. A narrow border of chrysanthemum print was added using scraps I trimmed off. I wanted a repeat of that fabric and it's the sort of print that can be pieced and you can't tell, a quality that came in handy with this project!
My friend wanted me to use the extra octagons if possible and I found a way to use a dozen of them. First I added strips of the blue Japanese woven fabric and then triangles of chrysanthemum print. Many of the triangles had to be pieced and I was really glad that I had made the border out of the scraps because I needed every square inch! I set the octagons on point like mini medallions which echo the center.
Then I added strips of a blue print so that these octagons would appear to float in the blue. But I ran out of the one blue print and had to supplement with the blue print from the large triangles, which I had the most of. And then I alternated the mini-medallions with rectangles of blue, finishing with a final border of cherry print. Total size: 84" square.
My friend was surprised by what I chose to do with this assignment and definitely delighted.


Can I say that I have a really good excuse for not blogging much lately? I’ve actually been stitching. A lot. With a lot to show for it.

First, -- drum roll, please! – I finished the last of 274 black/white/red fan blocks needed for my niece’s quilt. Of course that meant that I had to be ready with new foundation squares to start appliquéing and accumulating more fan blocks for the second one.

After trimming and stitching the edges, I separated the white blocks from the black ones. And because I began with 6” squares, I was able to create consistently sized blocks—so important to piecing together.

Then I set up my felt easel. This is a device I created and am rather chuffed about. It’s just two really large pieces of cardboard rescued from the street after a treadmill was unpacked in my neighborhood (I’d been on the lookout for some big clean cardboard after I got the idea) and taped together. There’s a bit of sway to it and I wish it had less give, but it will do. I set it up across a chair (or I stand it up for a vertical look) and cover it with white felt. That gives me a wonderful surface on which to lay out quilt blocks. If they don’t stay up on their own, pins!

On paper I laid out the four sections of quilt to be assembled, giving me a road map. This quilt requires close attention to detail if you are as anal about it as I am. First, to have the blocks alternate black and white. And second, to be sewn in the proper order to create the desired pattern. To save time and ripping and resewing, my least favorite activities, I relied on the road map.

I also choose one special block to seed in each section. There are four special blocks: one with dog prints, one with polka dots, one with heart prints and the first one I made which has only four fan pieces and they don’t alternate. My plan is to tell my niece of their existence and hope she has fun finding them.

Assembling the second section was easier because I organized the blocks better. This time I sorted them by the red pieces and piled them up according to the number of times each print was used. They ranged from singletons to some used as many as seven times. The joy of randomness! But what I most wanted to avoid was to be left with a second half of blocks with too many duplicates. This organizational step made choosing much smoother.

I also made use of very clever plastic squares that can be marked and pinned to fabric to keep it all straight—up, down, left, right, trying to keep from sewing the wrong ones together. These are tremendously helpful and prevented mistakes.

Now that I have two sections stitched together, my next step is to sandwich layers of backing, white flannel and the top sections & machine quilt them before I then sew them together. My niece’s quilt is close to the half way mark and I can’t wait to see it done and gifted!

Meanwhile I’ve also been working on two other quilts that will be gifts. The green and tan boxing clever quilt will also be done in four sections and given to the daughter of my other sister. This one is 15 x 16 blocks, 240 total. Her taste is muted and more traditional, so I think she will like this quilt.

The third quilt in the works is for a dear friend who loves blue and white. I started collecting blue and white fabrics last spring with some fabrics purchased at the quilt show in Somers, NY.

All the other fabrics added to these quilts I am proud to say I bought on clearance. I really love these prints and I am sure that I will enjoy making more quilts from them--- I have plenty of fabric!