Closet thoughts

I didn't totally feel like losing my lunch on the Day of Tornadoes™ until the meteorologist said in a panicked tone, "This is a large wedge tornado..." and paused to get a fix on where it would hit next. He rattled off the names of the middle school and the high school and said, "I think it's going to come right between them...if that's where you are, you need to be in your safe place RIGHT NOW."

Care to guess where my house was?

I tend to roll my eyes at tornado coverage in Alabama. I joke that you'll know it's serious when you see ME taking the coverage seriously -- and this tornado had me trying to coax Edmund into the guest bathroom closet with me. He wouldn't go, so I rubbed his ears and said, "Sweetie, I love you, but you're on your own." I turned up the television so I could hear the weather coverage from the bathroom, got in the closet, and shut the door. I knew how many minutes I had before the tornado was supposed to arrive (not many) and I had my phone with me so I could count them down.

I wondered if I'd see more minutes after those. I wasn't sure. I put my pillow over my head and my sense of humor took over. I asked myself what my final thoughts were, and I shrugged (visibly) and said aloud, "Well, I've had a good run..."  I waited, and waited, and listened to the roar of the wind and the constant rumble of thunder. It was scary, but the minutes ticked by and I still, somehow, had a roof over my head.

As it turned out, the tornado (a nasty, nasty EF-4, barely missing EF-5 status) tracked just a bit north of me, about a half-mile or so. Not much, given that the beast was about a quarter- to half-mile wide. I didn't know that at the time, though, and in the space of those seemingly-eternal seconds I had plenty of time to think. I asked myself the question anyone would ask: "Any regrets?"

Mine made me chuckle: "I wish I'd finished Pentatonic. I wish I'd finished Seven Brides. I wanted to prove they could be done."

We had six days of power outage afterward, and I kept thinking of my regrets. Pentatonic and Seven Brides are two of the three quilts (along with Adam's wedding quilt) that I've jokingly referred to as my masterworks -- quilts so complicated I had to go off and make other quilts to learn the skills I'd need to finish them. They were the complicated quilts, the ones that always seemed to get pushed aside whenever someone got married or had a baby, because I could bang out something quick / bright / easy and get back to these complicated ones. But it never seemed to happen. Marriages and babies kept happening, and the fabric for these two quilts just kept waiting.

You can cut a lot of fabric in six days without power.

Pentatonic will forever be one of my tornado quilts. Here's how I cut fabric for it without power... cnaPentatonic in progress

['Pentatonic in progress']

Some time ago, John Wilson pointed me to ponoko.com, and I realized immediately that Ponoko was the site I needed to be able to do my masterwork quilts properly; I could take my crazy ideas and turn them into custom laser-cut acrylic templates with docked corners, engraved pattern names, and lines showing the finished size of each piece. Since I'd been printing paper templates from Adobe Illustrator for pattern pieces for these quilts, it was little issue to turn them into the kind of vector artwork that Ponoko needed.

I created my design, and then generated files in the format that ponoko.com expected. A few weeks later, boom! Custom laser-cut acrylic quilt templates with features I liked: sharp corners nocked to prevent dog ears, pattern name inscribed, and an etched line showing the finished size of the piece.

The only thing I regret not adding: a hole for hanging pieces on a pegboard. cnaCustom pieces from ponoko

['Custom pieces from Ponoko']

With the power off and no prospect of it coming back anytime soon, I got to work. It takes a while to cut enough fabric pieces to generate a large pile of shreds, like this one:

No power for days? Screw it. Let's cut quilt pieces. cnaCutting for Pentatonic

['Cutting for Pentatonic']

I cut hundreds of pieces for Seven Brides. I cut a few hundred for Pentatonic. I replaced the binding on Matthew's quilt. Since then, I've been making excuses on smaller projects to instead work on Pentatonic, because I remember that when the chips were down, I was disappointed that I hadn't worked on this quilt. I started working on it. I sewed a test star:

After nearly a week of no power, and much fabric cut, I wanted to test out my new pattern pieces. Pentatonic has sat on the back burner for quite some time, and I think I'm about ready to tackle it.

The quilt: domesticat.net/quilts/pentatonic and the blog post about the tornadoes, and reaching the point of being ready to sew this test: domesticat.net/2011/05/powerless-time

If you are unfamiliar with the pattern, it is part of a Penrose tiling -- and yes, it has fivefold symmetry, instead of the 4-, 6-, or 8-fold symmetry most quilt patterns have. For the two shapes needed to make a Penrose tiling, I had acrylic templates custom laser-cut for me through ponoko.com cnaPerhaps, perhaps, a center star.

['Perhaps, perhaps, a center star']

only to realize a few days later that I'd made a mistake and sewn the first two stars upside down, and they needed to be redone, like this:

The bad thing about tiling quilts? The pieces can fit together in many ways, so you must be very, very careful to sew things together in the proper order. I realized last night I'd been sewing the stars upside down in their rings. The top point of the star should not coincide with one of the five points of the rings.

Rip out, re-sew. Fixed. Needs ironing, though.

Blog entry about this quilt in progress: domesticat.net/quilts/pentatonic cnaStar ... corrected

['Star ... corrected']

If you compare the two, you'll see the difference. The point of the star should not coincide with the points of the rings. They can be sewn either way, but only one version is correct, and I'm trying to make this quilt an ultra-canonical Penrose.

But ... ugh. So many projects I want to work on. My hands simply can't keep up. If I can wrap up the sewing of one more baby quilt top, I'm going to recalibrate my machine and switch over to quilting. And then ... maybe ... maybe ... maybe this time, now that I've really got the bug for tiling quilts in earnest again, I'll be able to finish one.

Crystal shot some photos giving a better idea of just how large these stars actually are:

I asked Amy to hold her hand up next to one of the stars so you can see just how large the stars are. ©047

['047' by clight]

Mostly taken for a perspective shot - to show just how large the stars for Pentatonic are. ©007

If anybody needs me, I'll be at my sewing machine, swinging for the cheap seats.
['007' by clight]

Comments

:-D  I wondered if you had done anything with ponoko.

Ohhhhhh exciting! *hugs!*