“Hello,” I said as I crossed the threshold. Two different detours had made me late. I had thirty five minutes. Timing was going to be everything. I practically danced my way in: one bag carrying two completed items and a second bag with plans that needed some encouragement, some revision, and some clarification.
“In here,” said Barb as I made my way to the first cutting table where she met me. As she oohed and ahed over the first item, I could barely hold my excitement.
And then I unfolded my second ever.
My second ever quilt.
She helped me choose fabrics. She agreed with me that floral elephants weren’t our cup of tea so we changed it. Peach? not so much. What about blue? We seemed in sync three months ago when we first envisioned this pattern in its physical form.
Once the Christmas gifts were sewn, I transitioned to planning for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t have a lot of luck finding fabric for the Derby so it was time to sew.
And sew I did. Straight lines. Rows of squares. Seven rows of ten five inch squares each. Two rows repeated exactly. But I read the rows vertically and horizontally so that no one square was repeated too often. And then hourglass patterns. Five different yellow fabrics and five different blue fabrics. Patterns. Repetitions. More patterns.
Barb asked my permission to take pictures of it, and of course I said yes. After all, the first part of today’s business was “Show and Tell.”
As I examined the quilt hanging there, some old memories resurfaced.
Quilting day with relatives from Dad’s family . . .
I still remember crawling under the quilting frame as we played while the elders quilted. The long boards held the quilt on top of wooden sawhorses that were spread across from each other. How close to the action were we? I remember that my hair was sewn to a quilt on more than one occasion. Food? Drink? Other kids? It must have been before I was school age!
Once the celebration was over, our attention quickly turned to the next project, my questions, and my concerns. Quickly capturing the ideas on the computer showed me one way that the next quilt might go.
I still enjoy viewing hand pieced quilts but I can’t see myself ever agreeing to sew one by hand (with out any machines or modern tools). Sewing pieces together with a machine involves a variety of skills that seem to ebb and flow with each project and enough complexity for my mind.
The math involved:
measuring, measuring, and measuring again. Each seam, Each row. Each column. Each section. And then piecing the elephants. My most complicated work to date. A square becomes a triangle. Two triangles equal a square . . . Measuring for the binding. Halving distances. 45 degree angles on corners. So many numbers. And the patterns. Yes to a pattern here. No to a pattern here. Some organized randomness. Counting. Counting. Counting.
And yet I’m embarking on the next task. A graduation quilt. From a baby to a six and a half foot young man. Adding to the pattern. Adding to the fabric. Mathing again!
How does math intersect with your life? When are you surprised by the ways that math becomes a part of your life? Is math a big part of your REAL life?
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March. Check out the writers and readers here.
We began with Lucy Calkin’s, “We come from . . .” but it wasn’t the countries and states typically heard in Riverside Church. It was about the difficulties and the joys from the past year. It’s easy to focus on March to the end as we prepare for the 2020-21 school year, but let us not forget that August to March was ours. Ours to teach. Ours to plan. Ours to build community. Ours for face to face instruction. And ours to celebrate.
We ended with a celebration. Music greeted us as we entered. These brave authors read their work. They read from their boxes . . . not from the stage in Cowin Auditorium.
And then Hareem Atif Khan had the closing. So many tears as she shared stories from several stages in her life.
To bookend the you come from beginning, Hareem said, “You go to your communities, schools, classrooms, children, children whose voices need amplifying. Let’s leave vowing to be the teachers that this world needs.”
I wrote about this summer’s reading virtual institute here. I still missed some of the same things this week during the writing week. I wanted to sit and chat with my small groups F2F. I wanted the fun of exploring new restaurants and the closing book sales at Bank Street Book. I wanted at least one Broadway show. Not in 2020.
My Writing about Reading from notebook to literary essay daily sessions with Katy Wischow who was the Institute guide for the week, announcing all the keynotes, was beyond my expectations. And our sessions with Alicia Luick . . . ended with singing. More about both of those later.
My Tips for a 30+ hour long Virtual Institute
- Study the Trail Guide and organize your days.
- Figure out a format to organize your links. Quick access is the key. This simple table works for my links page.
- Consider how you like to organize your notes. Organization matters. How will you access the information? Do you like every session on a single page? Do you like all sessions together by the day? Or together by the session so all five days of Writing about Reading are together? WHY? Set up at least your Monday, Day 1. The 10 minutes between sessions goes so quickly!
- Plan your backup for device failure. What is your plan if your device goes wonky during Zoom streaming?
- Plan your backup for WiFi failure. What is your plan if WiFi decides to take a break?
- Headphones and mic are not really optional if there are other beings in your house. Seriously, conversations are fun and funny with other 2 legged and 4 legged critters interrupting and dark screens and mics off work, but sometimes your patience gives out first!
- Break out rooms – If you have used them, awesome. What did you like? What did not work so smoothly? If there was a slide with directions, I took a quick pic on my phone so I would have it. (Borrowing from my friend Lynn, “I am old and my brain leaks.”) Jot a note. Think about how you focus on remembering and doing the task in small groups. (Ignore if you are not obsessive about remembering the task; someone in your group will capture it for everyone else!)
- Plan to participate as fully as possible. I personally felt the learning was MORE intense than in an “in-person” institute, and I have always felt those were like drinking from a fire hydrant. I didn’t have a plan for evening “think” and “work” sessions. That work space instead of canning 14 pints of salsa might have helped me to feel less stressed.
- Make plans to connect with folks beyond the institute. Your small group? A partner?
- Plan to learn AND have FUN! It’s a transformative week! You will be amazed at the tech tips and tools that you use and learn as well!
What tips would you add?