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Monday, October 28, 2013

Gift Card Wallets

This super-easy pattern came from the 2011/2012 Quilting Arts Gifts magazine, designed by Julie Herman.

I made the first one for myself, to keep my various gift cards in one location rather than scattered and lost all over the house:

It was so easy, I made one for Beadmom, too:

These would make a great personal touch for a giving a gift card, rather than the cardboard sleeve they usually come in.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Have the Best Sewing Buddies ...

In addition to helping me out with a minor problem, they each made a quilt square for soon-to-arrive Beadboy3, with a Red Sox theme.  There's even a Green Monster!

(There's another one on its way.)

I'm very lucky.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Bunch of Finishes

Zombie Girl Mandala by The Floss Box:

Magic Kitty by Mill Hill:

Autumn Harvest by Mill Hill:

Paisley Tree by Mill Hill:

Pear Tree Partridge by Mill Hill:

Modified Yeow by The Prairie Schooler:

Stitch-an-Inch Halloween by Brenda Bayliss:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudsonis one of the best comics I've read in a long time; it is a beautiful, haunting story that takes place on the Hudson River in the 1880s.  Elijah Twain (no relation, as he has to explain to all his passengers) is the captain of a steamboat who falls under the spell of a mermaid -- a mermaid who may have been preying on travelers up and down the river, including the owner of the steamboat. Siegel draws on mythology, local history, geography, and 19th century intellectual culture to create a lovely, heartbreaking tale that never becomes insipid.

The art, too, is outstanding.  Rather than use pencils and ink, Siegel illustrated the images with charcoal, allowing him to create both sharp lines and sinuous, shadowy curves; he also uses the blurring and smudges to great effect.  The resulting images are both sensuous and endearing, and add greatly to the fairy-tale feel.  I devoured this book in a day, and I want more.

(The website is worth a visit, too.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Buried Book by David Damrosch

The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgameshis the story of the Epic of Gilgamesh -- what is known of its creation, its loss when Nineveh fell, and its rediscovery in the nineteenth century.  As intriguing as this story is, it is rather short, so Damrosch fills out his narrative by offering us a lot of context.  We learn about the scholars who decyphered cuneiform and translated the Gilgamesh tablets, the archeologists who uncovered Nineveh and its ruined library, the state of British archeology in the late 1800s (racist, classist, and ridiculously petty), the Assyrian kings who founded Nineveh and put together the great library of cuneiform tablets, the workings of the Assyrian Empire (surprisingly modern in its politics and concerns), and finally the earliest Sumerian and Akkadian versions of the Gilgamesh stories.  Damrosch, a comparative literature professor, adds an analysis of the epic itself for good measure (helpful, since it's been years since I read it), along with its influence on modern works.

The result is a fascinating synthesis of history, culture, archeology, literature, and symbolism.  Where Damrosch falters is in the last section, where he discusses Saddam Hussein's fascination with Gilgamesh and his literary pretensions.  I don't think the connection is strong enough to be particularly interesting, and Damrosch's handling of it doesn't do much to address the remarkable lack of self-awareness Hussein must have had, given the ideals he praised in his writings and his actual behavior. I'm the last person to deny that evil dictators can be complex and full of contradictions, but that was not really discussed in Damrosch's analysis -- whether because he did not go in depth enough, or whether because the connection to Gilgamesh was ultimately too thin to make it belong in this book, I'm not sure.