I can’t make the last three photos from flickr show up on my last post and I don’t have time to mess with it now. (Did I add that I have an ear infection and I’m cranky and tired? Oh.) For anyone who’s interested, they’re currently the most recent three flickr photos viewable in the lovely widget to the left on this blog and I’ll make sure that stays true until I have time to fix the post. Oh, bother!


planning ahead (a little) for Dogwood Lozenges

I did not start a quilt for Nia, though I’m about to start knitting her a sweater. Yes, if she gets sent to her great aunt I’ll regret it, but for now I’m focusing on selfish piecing and patient parenting.

I don’t have photos of our bedroom or bed because that would require being on top of things rather than just imagining how I’ll write this post for the last week or so, but we got three layers of wallpaper scraped off, the plaster fixed, and the room painted Martha Stewart Milk Pail, a warm gray-blue. This is our stained glass window, because somehow we’ve become the sort of people who have a spectacular stained glass window in the bedroom:

bedroom stained glass

So I’ve wanted to make something for our bedroom and I’ve been wanting to use colors that come from the stained glass. Then I saw that Lynne at Lily’s Quilts had a new quilt design idea she’s calling Fruity Lozenges. When she posted a link to the templates I was off and running.

first seven lozenge blocks

Lynne has ended up making scrappy lozenges with each “leaf” a different fabric, but I was taken with the X look in her original mockup and have stuck with that and planned to have my blocks of four connect directly to one another, with no sashing. I realized I was thinking of each lozenge as a petal and that these were actually reminiscent of dogwood blossoms, the inspiration for the motifs in the Handstitched Class’s Modern Medallion Quilt I’d originally intended as the use for the fabrics that have gone into my lozenge instead.

block 8, showing off the neutral diamonds/squares

Once I started the project, I bought a neutral semi-solid (Moda French General Rouennieres Texture Oyster, though I’m usually more of a gray fan) and decided to use that for my “background” squares within the pattern. I’m not entirely sold on them yet, but I think they’ll work with the green Kaffe Fassett Millefiore to let me actually make a central block based on what would have been the center reverse applique dogwood blossom for the Modern Medallion quilt only scaled down to meet my 9-inch square size.

Green patterned Kaffe Fassett Millefiore and brown French General Oyster fabricpatterned green = Kaffe Fassett Millefiore; semi-solid brown = Moda French General Rouennieres Texture Oyster

If I make that the middle square and then have four-bloom blocks for the rest of the quilt, I think I’ll get something that fits our general house aesthetic, modern with respect for history. I’ve already scaled back my ambitions to a square seven blocks on a side, so 72 inches before I add some sort of border (size of a lozenge and a half?) on each side. At this point, for every three blocks I make that are three prints/one solid, I get to make one that’s three solids/one print. I have 17 prints I’m working with and 10 solids.

since-finished block 9 with background

Some of the prints (like the fussy cut ikat stripes above) I love and some of them (like the pinkish flowers above) I don’t but think will work to keep the scale of the quilt from being too bold or too blah. I may turn out to be mistaken about all of this, but I’ve bought a half yard of all the prints and that should give me enough to make 7 blooms from each with plenty left over for pillows or something else at the end.

This may end up a disaster, but for now I’m zipping along and loving the process. I can’t wait to have something special and handmade in our bedroom, except of course that I can because I’ve had a gorgeous lace shawl I’ve meant to use as a curtain sitting unblocked in a drawer since I finished it just before we moved in last year. But hey, this is something new and thus fun and so I’m happy for now.

non-siblings together

I know you’re not supposed to apologize for not keeping up with a blog, but I have a reason I haven’t been keeping up with my blog and she’s a very cute one! My current work in progress is adjusting to being the mother of two instead of one.

Mara and Nia, holding hands

Almost a month ago, we met six-year-old Nia, whose foster family was going to be closing their home. About three weeks ago, she moved in with us. She’s about an inch taller than four-year-old Mara and they’re very similar in temperament and interests. They’re both sweet, sensitive, curious, funny. It’s been such a pleasure to get to know Nia and see her open up to us. There’s a higher-than-usual chance she’ll be with us forever, but it’s also quite possible she’ll go to a relative in the state across the river in a few months or perhaps that she’ll someday get to go home. Living with that sort of uncertainty can be hard and weird, but I mostly handle it fine.

I’m still working on hand quilting Mara’s spider/ladybug quilt and hope to finish it soon, because that means I can get started on one for Nia, too. I’m thinking I’ll get a yard and a half of one of the Anna Maria Horner voiles and piece a back out of solid linen blends, hand quilt with perle cotton again, and use the pieced back as a foldover binding so I can practice something new. (All of this is new to me, I realize, but I’m trying to learn and improve!)

Mara and my partner Lee leave today for a lake cottage vacation with my family, and Nia and I will follow next week when I can get a break from work. I’d thought it would be good for the girls to have some time apart after all their time together, but Nia was sobbing last night about how much she’ll miss Mara. Maybe I’d better go buy a bit of fabric this weekend and get started on her project while I’m relaxing on the beach. She deserves some extra snuggles in her life.

All this gives me a chance to talk about how moved I was by The Siblings Together quilting project this spring/early summer. Nia doesn’t have any siblings, though she’s started to refer to Mara that way. Mara, though, has four older siblings who live with one aunt and a little sibling with another. As we deal with her grandmother’s recent death, we’re spending more time with Mara’s family. We first got in touch with them last fall, just before her adoption was finalized, and it’s meant the world to her to get to spend time every month or so with kids who look like her, who share some of her quirks, who understand how and why she misses her parents. Post-adoption contact is not common in adoptions from foster care in our area, but I’m a huge advocate for it because I’ve seen how much it means to all the kids in Mara’s family.

I wasn’t a good enough or quick enough to get a quilt done for Siblings Together, but I’m doing what I can for the quasi-siblings here in my home. Maybe next year we’ll be settled and I’ll be ready to quilt a little less selfishly, but fostering means you never really know what the future will hold! I’m just glad that for now there are two little laughs in the piano house, twice the dirty laundry and twice the fun.

ridiculous and/or sublime?

I’ve got a ton of piecing projects in the works, but I just put my first quilting project on my hoop last night after winning the battle with the spray-basted parts and it’s basically a whole-cloth quilt. It’s for Mara, who’s 4 and who’s been cuddling under the individual top and bottom of the quilt already, so I know I have her approval.

Here’s what’s going on now: hand quilting around spiderwebs on a quilt

For now, I’m just outlining each spider web, but I wonder if that’s drawing attention away from the print and I’d be better off doing something like intersecting lines with small thread rather than the perle cotton I’m using now. Does this look awful? I mean, awful in a bad way that will make it inappropriate for a 4-year-old’s quilt? Hmm, that’s not a very high bar, really, and maybe I ought to get awful out of the way from the start.

The back (or front, depending on how you want to look at it) is one big piece of orange fabric with ladybugs on it: bright orange fabric with ladybugs

I have no idea why I would have bought two yards of orange ladybug fabric before I had a kid or sewed, but when I found it in a box upstairs I knew it would be perfect for Mara, who dressed as a ladybug in both her Halloweens with us. When I found the Eric Carle Very Busy Spider fabric at Fat Quarter Shop I knew that even though the colors were very different, the feel was perfect to match them up. Of course, I hadn’t measured my ladybugs, which turned out to be much wider than the standard 44/45″ and so I cut the bottom 18 inches or so off the Spider side and English paper pieced bits of it (large rectangles, so I made straight edges by using scrap paper) to the side to make it big enough to fit better. I also used the selvedge printing to make a little letter I appliqued on to mark it as Mara’s, though I stupidly didn’t take a picture of that yet. I’m not sure how big the quilt has ended up being, but it should be close to square and plenty big for even my lanky girl to play on or under it.

Anyway, I know I don’t really have readers yet, but if any want to weigh in on whether this quilting is atrocious or adorable, I’d love to have some input!

Let the sunshine in!

I had always wanted to live in a house with a tower and there are in fact houses with turrets on our block, but I prefer the house we got to those houses anyway. I have a room on the top floor that’s going to be our guest room but is also my spot for bookshelves and all my yarn and my suddenly growing fabric stash and a lovely table by the amazing window that cranks open where I can sit and write.

Since people are going to sleep there someday, though, I wanted to make sure there was enough privacy to allow for undressing or for ignoring some of the persistent morning sun. First Jeni announced a sale on bundles of vintage sheets in her etsy store and then I realized was having a hexagon sale, so the next thing I knew I had supplies jetting my way to make me part of Clare‘s summertime piece and love hexathon.

curtain made by English paper piecing with 3-inch hexagons of vintage sheets

I’m not sure if I’ll actually finish the mirrored pair to this first curtain this weekend, but I’m very close to getting there and just need to put in a bit of time. I had two sets of fat quarters that were duplicates, which gave me enough to make the top row and the half-hexagons along the sides for both curtains. Then from each fat quarter in the color scheme I’d chosen (all with some blue in them except that pink at the bottom, which came in because it turned out I’d misplaced four blue hexagons and then when I found them yesterday it was far too late) I cut out the largest even number of hexagons I could, anywhere between two and six. These hexagons are three inches on a side, which seems ridiculously indulgent after the smaller piecing I’ve been doing, but works well with the larger prints of the vintage sheets.

Next week begins Handstitching class, so I’ll probably post about that next and get a flickr page for my blog identity together. Maybe I’ll even do it from my cheerful little garret where these curtains will flap gaily in the breeze. At least I know enough about my blogging trends to hedge my promises.

about me, about pseudonymity

I go by Thorn here, though it’s not my name. I’m in my early 30s, a white lesbian atheist pacifist. I work a desk job and like to read and theorize. I was a serious knitter for over a decade, but put those needles down when I picked up my first English paper piecing project back in February. My partner, Lee, is in her 40s and teaches at a community college. She is black and Christian. Our daughter, Mara, is four, also black, and I take her to church, though I’ll probably only talk about that on my other blog.

We are a foster family, which is why I started blogging under a pseudonym. (In fact, I just told our worker today that we’re ready to start taking calls again when there are kids who need homes.) I don’t like to use our real names or say anything that would make it easy to hunt us down by googling, although I also make an effort not to ever say anything I wouldn’t want my caseworker to read. Honestly, if she ran across my blog it would take about half a second for her to recognize us, but strangers and internet stalkers can be weird and I try to keep a little distance because it makes my life easier. I would never post identifying photos of a child in foster care and to protect our privacy, I don’t usually post full-face photos of any of us.

That said, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of interracial same-sex foster/adoptive couples in the Midwest and certainly not that I know here in the metropolis I call River City, so I’m not aiming to be completely unidentifiable. If someone who knows me in real life manages to find and recognize me via the blog, I appreciate knowing about that just so I know who’s keeping up with this segment of my life. I do know I have real-life friends who read what I say online and online friends who’ve become real and close to me.

I will start putting up pictures soon, once I get on the ball and start a new pseudonymous flickr account, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I don’t know how I’ll manage it if I get brave enough to talk more to people at the local cool quilt store or joining the local modern quilt guild, but I’ll manage. I know quilt people are generally friendly and I want to make it clear that I’m not being unfriendly by hiding my name and location, just trying to make sure I can do all the things I like to be able to do online. And I promise, o as-yet-imaginary readers, that this will soon include talking about actual sewing!

in the beginning

This story will be familiar to those who read my main blog, but about a year ago, my partner Lee and I were living with our 3-year-old, Mara, whom we hadn’t yet adopted, in a 90-year-old two-bedroom one-bath house. Although we were happy there, we felt crowded and were ready for something new. This was complicated since Mara had already moved once in October to come live with us rather than a foster family who were turning in their license and had had four moves in the year previous to that (from her mom to two different families each moving to a new home once) and so we wanted to be thoughtful about keeping the transition as easy as possible for her.

To that end, we started talking about our house as The Little House, that we loved The Little House but it was just so little! Meanwhile we were looking at other houses, houses that were bigger but wouldn’t have mortgages that were too, too much bigger. Lee and I were trying to agree on a cute cute bungalow in our dream neighborhood, the historical district of the next town over from where we’d been living, but Lee thought the bungalow would end up too little too. She listed what she wanted in a new house — a room for her, a room for me, bedrooms for Mara and us, a playroom for Mara, a living room, a dining room, two bathrooms — and she wanted to find it in our dream neighborhood. The next day, there was a new listing on the market for a six-bedroom house one street over from the bungalow going for something like $25K less.

I knew from the start that The Piano House would be perfect for us, though Lee had a harder time seeing past the ugly paint colors and the grime from 30 years of smoking the previous owners had done there. We decided quickly to call it The Piano House since the piano had caught Mara’s eye, and we put in an offer that asked for the owners to leave the piano. After a few times back and forth, everything was agreed, and all we had to do was get through mortgage hell (and it was hell!) and then we had our lovely house, built sturdy and with amazing details in 1903.

We’ve been living there almost a year now and so many things have changed in our lives. Mara has been legally adopted and has grown bigger and braver and has room to run around and dart through the sprinkler like she did last night or draw with chalk all over the sidewalk in the front yard. We spent almost five months out of the 10 or so we’ve been there so far as foster parents to a sibling group of two, Val and Alex, then 5 and 4, who are now living in another part of town with their family. We’ve also been able to make contact with Mara’s extended family, particularly the aunts who are raising her siblings, and her older siblings have gotten to sleep in the big spare room near her in probably their first night together under one roof.

We got the living room, dining room, and Mara’s room painted at the time we moved in, and then completely had the tiny first-floor bathroom where Lee showers completely redone. Our handyman just finished stripping three layers of wallpaper off our bedroom walls and ceiling and painted our bedroom and dressing room (!) to make them stunningly beautiful. Next he’s going to build a pergola and pave a little patio in the back yard. That’s probably all we can afford to pay someone else to do this year, but I’m working on a garden and we’re slowly improving the house.

After over a decade as a fairly serious knitter, I got a sudden urge to take up patchwork quilting and began English paper piecing in February. I have five projects going on right now, I think, and should be finishing some this week, which is why it seemed like a good time to start a new blog. I’m going to be taking the <a href=";Handstitched Class this summer, and so it seemed like a good idea to have a place where I can talk about quilting stuff. But since I don’t do a ton of quilting stuff and only work by hand, this will also be a blog where I can talk about other things going on in the house that aren’t just related to parenting and adoption and fostering and race and natural haircare (maybe that since cornrows and flat twists have a connection to quilting and knitting, right?) and the stuff that goes on in the other place. I’m on twitter as @motherissues and interested in talking about many things. So I’ll be back here to do that soon!