CWOW Letters, 5

April 18th, 2017

Greeting cards reproducing Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson

I sent these notes on March 12, 2017.

Dear Mr. President,

I read that you told an Israeli newspaper that settlements “don’t help the process” of negotiating lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. I am so glad someone finally pointed this out! Thank you!

Then, in a press conference, I heard you tell Mr. Netanyahu that you would like to see him hold back on settlements for a little bit. He looked surprised, but he needed to hear this.

All religious labels aside, those settlements represent a straightforward case of international bullying. It is pretty much drawing a line in the sand and saying, “Okay, like this is our side and that is the Palestinian side. Oh, and by the way Palestinians, we’re going to be building some apartments on your side and we’re gonna live there. But like, you are not allowed to come over to our side.”

What?! Like you said, this is not helping the peace process.

So please, please hold firm on this point.

Sincerely,
ST

* * *

Dear Senator Cruz/Cornyn, Rep. Conaway,

Please protect and fund the Environmental Protection Agency. [for Rep. Conway, Please vote AGAINST H. R. 861, which seeks to dissolve the Environmental Protection Agency.]

As you know, some people in our country wish to line their own pockets at any cost, including our health and the cleanliness of our environment. The EPA stands in their way, preserving our (mostly) clean water and air, among other benefits.

I want the continued protection of the EPA for myself, my family, and our fellow citizens.

ST

Crochet Comets

April 6th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

At our 2015 Dublin Rippers quilting retreat, my friend Donna challenged us. She had a black plastic bag full of fabric. We had to close our eyes and reach into the bag. We had until the next year’s retreat to make something from the fabric we drew from the bag. She said we could make anything we wanted. It didn’t have to be a quilt.

My fabric was a tiny print that gave an overall impression of a kind of pinkish gray. It reminded me of the night sky.

Weren’t there a couple of yellow and white doilies in my collection at home that might make good comets? I went home to my doily collection and, yes! There they were.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

To get an idea of scale, I photographed the doilies and the gray fabric, plus some yellow fabrics that I planned to use for the comet tails. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to digitally build the wall hanging, cutting and pasting the images of doilies and fabric.

I put several stars in the sky, just to give me an idea of how they would look. In the real wall hanging, I would use more stars and they would be a lot fancier. And I’d sew on a bunch of buttons as smaller stars.

Photoshop Elements has a click-and-drag tool for drawing boxes and circles and, hey—stars! I clicked on the star shape and dragged the first one. It was black, because that was the last color I had used. I changed the color, and the next stars were yellow.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

The sketch was pretty rough, but it served its purpose. I could tell that the quilt would have to be about five feet wide to give the doily comets and their tails enough room. The horizon and a few houses gave me an idea of proportions between sky and earth.

I started laying out the quilt top, stopping only to buy a length of fabric to go between the dark earth and the lighter sky. As I worked and laid out the doilies and houses and moon, I got a feeling. It was definitely located in my chest. It was a feeling of inevitability that seemed to squeeze my heart.

The feeling was that the sketch might be rough, but it was perfect the way it was. Any attempt on my part to fancy things up, would not make the finished product look any better. As I worked I came to know this without a doubt.

So the quilt is as close to the sketch as possible. I did fancy up the comet tails with buttons and beads, but the sky is plain, except for the appliqued stars, including a black one.

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

The back is made from scraps, many of which were giveaways from my quilting friends. It is quilted in mostly parallel, curving lines. That took a long time.

This was my first mostly-fabric quilt with raw-edge applique and very simple piecing, and I learned a lot. It is also the biggest quilt I have made so far.

Crochet Comets is on display at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado, until April 23, 2017. Starting July 1, it will be part of the Celebrate Doilies! exhibit, making its debut in Stephenville, Texas, at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council River North Gallery. (Details here.)

 step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Crochet Comets, by Suzann Thompson

Arranging Flowers for Winterling

March 27th, 2017

I had to try many different flower arrangements before finding my favorite for Winterling. It was fun! Here are a few:

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson  TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Hmmm. Yeah, the white flowers seem too startlingly bright. So for the next try, I took the daisies off and also the big sunflower, because I thought it was too heavy and large for the composition.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

How about the one on the left?—it’s kind of minimal with a more controlled color selection. Given a choice, I usually go for fancy over minimal. The next one is alright.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Thinking the sunflower might not be too heavy after all, I added it back in. Yep, I think this is the one.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

After pinning all the flowers and leaves in place, it was time to sit down and sew. And I mean sew for a long time.

Something kept bothering me about the Samarkand Sunflower which has a yellow center, then a white round and a band of periwinkle blue before the round of white petals. The blue band looked too plain and big. A few bright yellow seed beads took care of that problem.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

After sewing the flowers on, I appliqued a crocheted picot vine in the borders. Each picot has a seed bead on it, which is stitched in place to keep the picot from curling. Buttons berries grow from the vine.

That does it for Winterling! Want to know where the flower patterns are from? Visit this post at the Curious and Crafty readers blog to find out.

CWOW Letters, Week 4-ish

March 24th, 2017

I missed a week in my Cold Water on Washington letter-writing campaign. It wasn’t for lack of material, believe me! I’m back to the grindstone, with these notes written on March 7, 2017:

Dear Mr. President,

Many people have asked or demanded that you release your tax returns. I know you don’t want to do it, but Mr. President, you should.

You are proud of your success in business, and your tax returns are simply one type of record of your business acumen.

Okay, maybe you think something in your tax returns will be unflattering to you. Well, own it! Even fantastic businessmen have their low points, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Besides I’m afraid the longer you wait, the more people will begin to believe that you are afraid of what your tax returns reveal about you. But you are the president now, and you must step up and take responsibility for your tax returns and whatever may result from their release.

Surely you are not afraid to release your tax returns. Are you, Mr. President?

Sincerely,

ST

The Senate created its own Joint Resolution to roll back protection of certain wildlife on wildlife refuges. So I wrote about this issue again, to cover the SJ Res 18. Again, you can look up this bill and more at www.congress.gov.

Dear Senator Cornyn/Cruz,

Please vote against SJ Res 18.

National wildlife refuges exist to preserve the natural diversity of wildlife in certain areas. Natural diversity includes predators and predator/prey relationships. Allowing hunters to kill predators, particularly when they are raising young, skews the natural balance of wildlife on these refuges.

I add that the methods used to hunt bears in particular, like picking them off at a bait station or airborne hunting are extremely unsportsmanlike.

Your disapproval of the rule mentioned in SJ Res 18 benefits a very, very small percentage of U. S. citizens.

Frankly, you have more pressing issues to attend to.

Sincerely,
ST

The House of Representatives unveiled their health care bill, H. R. 370, which we know now will not even come to a vote. I will be writing a lot more about healthcare in these United States.

Dear Representative Conaway,

FUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD!

Sincerely,
ST

Iced Water at the Café Rouge note cards

Winterling, The Vase

March 15th, 2017

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

The Zwiebelmuster chinaware design is full of flowers, leaves, stems, and curlicues. All of that can be crocheted, appliqued, beaded, and embroidered. So that’s what I did, and it took some time.

You know from reading the earlier post about the Winterling wall hanging, that I photographed a coffeepot as a model for the vase. I enlarged the photo to the size of the wall hanging and printed it. The coffeepot/vase became my pattern, which I consulted for size and shape as well as light, shadow, and the actual blue design.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

For a project like this, I will cut out the paper shape and use it for a template. The photo above shows the paper template next to the fabric vase, which I’ve already pieced from knitted fabrics. The fabric vase is a little bigger than the paper, to give me room to fold under the raw edges.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Various shades of blue knitting created some highlight and shadow. But tulle or netting is the best for making shadows. More layers of tulle mean darker shadows, as you can see in the photo at right.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Here are the first few crocheted leaves and flowers, made with No. 10 crochet cotton. I crochet without instructions, measuring my foundation chain against the printed template. Sometimes I have to unravel and recrochet a piece several times, but eventually it turns out alright.

I try to get most of the pieces crocheted before sewing them in place. That’s because I have to pin, unpin, rearrange, and repin many times to get the flowers and leaves to look right.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

Then it’s time to sew. And sew. And sew some more. One day in the middle of February, the weather was so nice and warm, I was able to sit outside with my coffee to do some sewing.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

It’s just about finished here. Yay! After this, I folded under the raw edges and whip stitched them down before handsewing the vase to the wall hanging.

 TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling, by Suzann Thompson

CWOW Letters, Week 3

March 9th, 2017

detail of Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson

Written on February 18, 2017:

Dear Mr. President,

This note is in regard to your comments about the retailer Nordstrom. Would you as a businessman, drop an account if you disagreed with the policies of the management of the company or their families? Of course you would!

I fear your reaction to Nordstrom’s dropping your daughter’s product line will be seen as what we call “projection.” That means you think they cut her products because they don’t like your policies, since that’s exactly what you would do.

People can learn a lot about you by your reactions to events like the Nordstrom decision. Particularly these days, a lot of readers and viewers assume that oddly bad over-reactions are a result of projection. So if a person wants to be inscrutable or to mask some of his or her more unpleasant character traits, restraint is the best policy.

That’s all for this week.

ST

My Senators and Congressman received postcards this time about legislation that would roll back a policy by the Fish and Wildlife Administration to preserve natural diversity in national wildlife refuges by stopping culls of predators.

The explanation of this rule was that natural diversity among wildlife includes predators. By killing predators in specific, humans skew the natural predator/prey relationship. Emphasis on ‘natural.’ And remember this applies to wildlife refuges. Emphasis on ‘refuge.’

I can’t see the benefit of disapproving this rule, and I think the House and Senate are doing this pretty much because the rule was instituted during the Obama administration.

You can look up bills currently active in Congress at https://www.congress.gov.

Dear Senator Cruz/Cornyn,

Please vote AGAINST HJ Res 69!

HJ Res 69 is a cruel and mean-spirited attack on our nation’s wildlife in places that were set aside specifically to preserve it. Wildlife is part of our amazing natural heritage. Please protect it!

Ask yourself, sir, whether you really want to be responsible for killing creatures, already struggling for survival, for the fun of a few people. I sincerely hope your answer is no.

ST

* * *

Dear Representative Conway,

Please vote AGAINST HR 424 and HR 717!

Our nation’s wildlife is a huge part of our natural heritage. Please protect it!
Humans are very resourceful, and we can continue to prosper and survive AND preserve our natural national treasures. Those treasures include wildlife and their habitats.

ST

Winterling

March 5th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

We don’t normally go around leaving coffeepots on the bed, but this is a special coffeepot. It’s from the now-closed Winterling chinaware factory in Schwarzenbach an der Saale in northern Bavaria. My great-grandmother, Lina Schoedel, worked there. One of Winterling’s patterns was the blue and white Zwiebelmuster or onion pattern.

This coffeepot became a vase in my TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling. But this isn’t the first time the Zwiebelmuster has inspired me: the Perspective Daisy and Curly Curlicues designs in Crochet Garden were inspired by the china, as well as the Leaves and Berries Spray (free pattern here).

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

So back to the coffeepot on the bed. I photographed this scene to help me see how light and shadow would play in my wall hanging. Sometimes I use photos to create patterns for my wall hangings. After manipulating the photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements, I print a full-sized final draft.

Being a fan of color contrast, I chose orange for the background to the blue and white pattern of the coffeepot/vase. I sorted orange yarns into light, medium light, medium, medium dark, and dark qualities, and set to work knitting orange yardage on my Ultimate Sweater machine.

After blocking and stabilizing with fusible interfacing, the knitted yardage was smooth and even.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

It was time to cut up the knitting! For the curtains and vase, I used my paper pattern to cut pieces to the correct size and shape. For everything else, I cut patches of knitting freehand and fitted them together to form areas of light and shadow. I pinned the patches in place and sewed them to a foundation fabric which wouldn’t be visible in the finished piece.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

I couldn’t wait to try some flower arrangements. At the International Quilt Festival in Chicago, Spring 2016, participants in my Open Studios session arranged flowers. My first idea was to use blue, violet, and yellow flowers as a contrast to the orange. They soon convinced me that more colors were better.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Winterling

If you’re thinking the vase in these pictures looks funny, you’re right. It’s because I was using my paper pattern as a place holder. But before finalizing the flower arrangement, I needed to create the vase with knitted fabric. That took a while.

CWOW Letters 2

March 1st, 2017

detail of Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson

My letter-writing campaign, Cold Water on Washington, entered its second week, with these notes dated 2/11/17:

Dear Mr. President,

On January 11, 2017, you gave a speech in which you said you would work toward “insurance for everybody.” Great idea! I love it!

If my family didn’t have to pay $1,785 a month for mediocre health coverage, we’d be pleased to put some of that toward taxes to pay for a national health system.

Speaking of a national health system, we lived on the economy in England for seven years, and used their National Health System. It was really good. The United States should learn from England about how to set up a national health system. We might even be able to do better, because we’re Americans, you know.

You also said you want to force drug companies to negotiate drug prices with Medicare and Medicaid. Another great idea! I don’t know why we ever quit doing that in the first place.

But then you fussed and quibbled about how many people showed up to your inauguration. That’s baby stuff. Makes you look bad. Don’t do it again.
That’s all for now.

ST

To Senators Cornyn and Cruz and U S Representative Conway (wording varied slightly among the notes)

Dear…

Please vote AGAINST any legislation that weakens or privatizes Medicare.

[SPECIAL FOR SEN CORNYN—Please withdraw any resolution or legislation you have introduced that weakens or privatizes Medicare. And then vote AGAINST similar efforts.]

Why? Many of the people who depend on Medicare are not easily able to negotiate the complex and confusing world of health insurance. If my mother were to die, my elderly father couldn’t work out the best insurance policy for himself. Many elderly people are in the same position, and they don’t necessarily have daughters or sons nearby to help, like my parents do.

Secondly, if you are truthful sir, even you must admit that health insurance providers have little interest in our good health. Instead, they are focused almost exclusively on enriching themselves and paying their officers stunningly large bonuses.

Sincerely,

ST

PS This note has been paid for…by me, a concerned citizen and your constituent.

Snowflake Wall Hanging

February 24th, 2017

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

My sweet friend Hazel gave me a cardigan she bought years ago in Scotland. It was a pretty example of Fair Isle knitting, done with raglan sleeves. Thank you, Hazel!

The star pattern put me in a wintery, snowy frame of mind, and luckily there were just enough complete star motifs in the sweater for me to cut the long hexagons and form the points of the resulting snowflake.

Knitted scraps from previous wall hangings filled in the background. I sewed the patches together onto a foundation fabric, which won’t be visible in the finished piece.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

Next came quilting and binding, and I used fabrics from another generous person or people. The blue and white fabrics were in the estate of a lady from Germany. Her heirs wanted her fabrics to go to someone who would appreciate them.

I got to be that person! The link was the heirs’ former German teacher, who was also a friend of my mother’s. Thank you to those lovely people! I do appreciate their mother’s fabrics and laces and vintage handwork.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

As I’ve said many times, embellishment is my favorite part in the process of making wall hangings. There would be lots of button-sewing in my future.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

I was conflicted about which look to go for. I liked the subtle transparent and white buttons at the left of this photo and my daughter agreed. However, the bold blue buttons on the right seemed a better design choice.

Lately when in doubt, I go to Instagram. Many Instagram friends answered “Go for the bold!” Only one person agreed with Ella and me. I went with the majority.

Here are the blue buttons all sewn on.

step by step TextileFusion snowflake wall hanging

I’m still going to add transparent and white buttons around the flake. Looking forward to enjoying that zen zone of button sewing.

Cold Water on Washington

February 13th, 2017

Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson

Finally, a purpose for my many Iced Water at the Café Rouge greeting cards! I’m using them to write to the President and my representatives in Congress. I think of it as throwing Cold Water on Washington, because I like silly titles, and it makes a good acronym: CWOW. C-WOW!

These letters are about general topics, not urgent ones. My friend Alissa told me that letters in envelopes are delayed because of security checks for powdered substances. I’m going to follow her advice and buy postcards to send any time-sensitive messages.

Since my letters probably won’t be read by the people to whom they are addressed, I’m posting them here for everyone else to read. Enjoy!

These notes were dated February 4.

Mr. President,

Regarding your conversation with Prime Minister Turnbull of Australia, unnamed sources allegedly offered “fatigue” as an explanation for your rudeness. Just in case this is true, I’m going to tell you what I have often told my children: tiredness is no excuse for bad behavior. But you’re not a child, so really, you have absolutely no valid excuses for bad behavior.

When you find you have acted rudely or badly, own it. Do not expect others to make excuses for you. Apologize. Do better in the future.

That’s all for now.
ST

I wrote notes with slightly different wording, depending on the circumstances, to Senators Cornyn and Cruz and US Representative Conway. Here is the basic idea:

Dear Senator/Representative,

Now that you have begun the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act, I would like to suggest that you replace it with a national healthcare system like the one in England.

My family used the National Health System when we lived in England for seven years. It is very good. No matter how tight our finances were, we knew we could get medical care. This prevents many medical problems from progressing to a point where heroic and expensive intervention is needed.

Nowadays, for our family of four, we pay $1,785 per month for mediocre health insurance. Our deductible is $6,500. I would be pleased to stop paying this exorbitant rate, and put some of it toward higher taxes to pay for a national healthcare system.

That’s all for now.
ST

PS Please hire more staffers to answer your phones, or get a voicemail box with more memory.

Iced Water at the Café Rouge by Suzann Thompson