Author Archives: flekka

New yarn

This is the softest yarn ever and this is all I have – a skein each (natural is 8 ply, red is 4 ply). My husband was in New Zealand and walked by a yarn store… he knows nothing about yarn but it’s the thought that counts, right? And now on to Ravelry to find some hat patterns… any other ideas for one skein knits? Btw this is 75% merino and 25% possum (! ‘No not your American kind, our New Zealand kind’ said a lady when she saw my husband’s puzzled look). So, so super soft, did I mention that? #yarn #yarnporn #newzealandyarn 

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Crossroads Block Tutorial

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This is the crossroads block tutorial made for the Quilts for Unity project (but of course, you can use it for any other project as well).

For this block you will need 13 squares, 4 dark for the ‘foreground’ and 9 light for the ‘background’ (you can also use 4 light and 9 dark). For the Quilts for Unity project these squares should be 5 in sq and you are welcome to use any fabric you want. I would like the fabric to represent the participant and in the end show are diversity. I am going with the “found” fabric and I am reusing materials found at thrift shops – shirting and sheeting fabric. I have used different light fabrics for the background but you can use all the same fabric for the 9 squares. I just happened to have a bunch of squares from a previous project.

Arrange the foreground (dark) squares and 5 of background squares in a basic 3×3 pattern as shown above. Keep the remaining 4 background squares for later.

 

Sew the 9 squares together. I sewed first the rows (see the first pic above) and then I sewed the rows together. Iron the seams open, because it will help with the next step, and make the final seams less bulky. Take the remaining 4 background squares and arrange them as I show above, outside the 3×3 block, next to the foreground (dark) squares.

Fold those 4 squares over the dark squares (center them over, they should overlap the light squares by 1/4 in on each side) and sew together as shown above. Iron open as shown. You are almost done. You just need to trim…

Rotate the block and use a transparent long ruler to trim the excess at 1.4 in from the corners of the dark squares. This will be the 1.4 in seam allowance for sewing these blocks together. Trim all 4 sides and you are done.

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This is what the block will look like when finished. It ends up at around 13 and 1/4 in squared.

Thank you for participating.

Quilts for Unity

If you are hear to learn more about the Quilts for Unity project you are in the right place.

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For a long story go to the Quilts for Unity page.

We have a Facebook group as well. Join to get updates about the project.

In a nutshell: These are troublesome times we live in. The goal of this project is to create quilts that will represent this moment in time. I want these quilts to give ALL of us a voice and then make us listen.

How: make a crossroads block (tutorial coming soon) and while you are making it, think about what you want to say. Then take another pice of fabric and write down what you want your block to represent. Send it to me. That’s it.

Who: everyone and anyone who wants to have their voice heard and is open to listen to other opinions. This is not a project for this side or the other. I would like to invite you regardless of your political or social views. All I ask is for you to be as hones and as open as you can. If you think you are not ready to open up, say that. If you think the is the stupidest idea in the history of community project ideas, don’t tell me that in the comments here, make a block and write it down. If you think quilts should not be political, you are invited too, let me know, participate.  That’t the only way to make ALL our voices heard.

Again, for the long story, and an example of what I would like for you to submit for the project, please go to the Quilts for Unity page.

Any comments and suggestions are welcome either here or on the Facebook group for the project.

I am hoping you will join me on this journey.

Beware of Propaganda

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Crossroads block #4

You have possibly heard or even seen, Kellyanne Conway (trying to justify Trump’s ban on refugees) give American People ‘brand new information’ on Presidents Obama 6 month ban on Iraq refugee program after two Iraqi refugees masterminded the ‘Bowling Green massacre’. There were two lies in this statement. First one about Obama’s 6 month refugee ban which is not true (this has been repeatedly stated by the administration since Trump signed his ban last weekend. It has been debunked so many times I will not go into that here.), and then the second one about the massacre that never happened. She has since admitted that she was mistaken, not apologizing but immediately going into offense pointing to mistakes media has made in covering Trump (the report that MLK bust was removed from the Oval Office, which was wrong and for which the reporter has **apologized**. Note the difference.) She also said she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists”. Try to replace “bowling Green Massacre” in her sentence with “Bowling Green Terrorists” in the statement she made and you can see it does not make sense.

But even though she said she was mistaken, it does’t really matter. The damage was done. She said what she meant to say to the public she meant to say it to. That’s the very basics of propaganda. She knows that there are people who will not listen to this, and will recognize it for what it is, but she is talking to the less critical, going directly for their feelings to create fear (that can cloud one’s judgement, we all know that).

I will leave you heard with some writings on propaganda – the attended audience, and methods of employment. Read it and see if it reminds you at all of what’s happening right now. Let me know if you know where this is from, but if you don’t (I had no idea) I will let you know tomorrow.

“Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (…) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (…) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (…) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.”

“Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (…) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (…) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”

Did you vote?

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Crossroads block #3

Yesterday I forgot the simplest and possibly the most important way of being an activist: Voting. For most of us (I will not go into voter suppression issues) it is a simple and usually not a time consuming action. This year I voted by mail which included filling out a form (maybe 15 min), sealing it in an envelope and dropping this envelope into a special mailbox, that was 5 minute drive from our house. That’s it.

But it’s not only important to vote for president. You need to vote for people who will be representing your voice in the government, who will be voting on policies in your name. That also means reading up on views of the people who’s names appear on the ballots so you know they will represent you and issues you stand for.

We are lucky enough to live in a democratic system. One of the basic principles of democracy is that we are guaranteed to have regular, free and fair elections where the citizens get to decide who will be in power. We have a CHOICE. Many people around the world don’t have that privilege.

The privilege of living in a democracy comes with some responsibilities and duties. Voting is our highest civic duty. If we forgo our right to vote, how can we say that we have a choice? By not voting we are basically undermining our democracy. Or said in a different way: “Higher voter turnout is in most cases a sign of the vitality of democracy, while lower turnout is usually associated with voter apathy and mistrust of the political process.” (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance)

Let me give you some numbers: in 2016 election, about 60% of voting eligible population cast their ballot (see United States Election Project by Associate Professor Michael P. McDonald of University of Florida). That is not a steep drop as some media outlets reported initially, it is about 3% less than in 2008 election when President Obama won his first term. However, this still mean that 92.7 million (!) people did NOT VOTE. That is a huge number. Think about it, almost 93 million people did not bother to vote (ok, some people could not vote for various reasons, but still the majority of these 93 million people just did not bother). The greatest turnout was in Minnesota at about 74%, and the lowest in Hawaii at about 43%.

While I support all the protests and while I do not stand by or believe in anything this president and his administration say or do, when they say – where were you when it was time to vote – they do have a point.

Election is over now, what’s done is done and let’s not be shaming people for who they voted or if they voted (ok, maybe a little on if  they voted). Let’s think about the future and start informing ourselves about the 2018 midterm elections and let’s change things. Because the power to change is in our hands.

The strength of one, or How to become an activist

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Crossroads block # 2

Many of us thought 2016 was a bad year and we were not sad to see it go. But 2017 doesn’t look so good either. For many of us, the election results were soul crushing, not because the Republicans won, but because of who is in the White House, and what they stand for. This time around we had an unprecedented election, but it is turning out to also be an unprecedented presidency as well (anyone out there who still thinks ‘it might not be so bad’?).

What gives hope though, is seeing and hearing about protests taking place around the US and really, around the world. Not just about the huge crowds you may see coverage of on TV, but small protest as well (example: New Yorkers Rediscover Activism in the Trump Presidency Era)

Honesty first here: I have never been an activist. I have often spoken and gotten angry about injustices and shit going on around the world, but only inside my four walls, and maybe, rarely, with closest friends I knew shared my values and views. Not even during the war that spun my country into chaos, that broke families apart and made friends shoot at each other, just because they were not of same nationality or religion (I am talking about the war in the Balkans in 1990s).

This is not ‘normal times’. We can’t just sit and think someone else is going to fight for us. “Our slow slide into complacency needs to come to an end. We all must become activists, recognizing the strength of one in developing the power of many.” (Activism 2017 from AAUP) ****The strength of one.**** I am sure there are many of you who feel, like I do (even now, as I am waiting this) – what can I do on my own? I am just a mom who takes her kids to million activities, organizes birthday parties and does laundry (ok, it’s not that bad). But if we organize, then we get the strength of many. The power to get our voices heard and make changes.

If you are lost, as I am honestly, as to how to do this activism thing, I have compiled a list below to help us on this journey. Helps us find where we can make the most difference:

  1. Self Reflect: whether you are dong online or offline activism, look to yourself and see how much time you can devote to activism and how you can contribute.
  2. Find your cause: focus. There seem to be so many issues, especially with this new administration, you might want to protest, but there is no way you can cover everything. So focus on an issue that’s close to you, that you are most passionate about.
  3. Know your talents: you don’t have to be a lawyer to be able to help. See what your strengths/talent are and how you can apply them to your cause.
  4. Make connections and seek out mentors: find out who else is passionate about your cause. Are there any organizations working on those issues? Learn about what they do and how they do it. If you plan to do any kind of organizing, look for people who have experience and ask for help. Find a support network.
  5. Become an expert: whatever issue you are fighting for is, learn anything and everything about it. You have to know the history, the current situation, and have all the facts so you can explain your position to like minded people, but also to those who might not be supporting you.
  6. Hold a fundraiser: that one is self explanatory.
  7. Talk about your issues daily: march, go out and hold signs, talk to people, let your voice be heard on social media, blogs. Do all, or those you feel comfortable with, but do it daily.
  8. Keep going: be careful not to burn out, take a break. On the days you feel less inspired, find materials that will inspire you (TED talks?) and maybe be point you in a new direction. But keep going.

(these were inspired by: https://classpass.com/blog/2017/01/17/easy-ways-to-become-activist/ and http://mashable.com/2017/01/19/activism-trump-2017/#0hVKhp4c7mqz)

At Crossroads

I have been away from this space for a long time. We have moved, we started settling in a new city and a new state. I have been homesick more than I would ever admit.

I thought about archiving this thing. I have been on and off blogging for a long time, but it never felt completely organic for me. What is the point?

But just in the last week or so, I decided to go back to it, for one purpose – standing for my rights. I don’t know where this is going yet, but for now the idea is to show you what I am working an and why. Let’ s see how it goes…

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Crossroads block #1

First up is the crossroads block 1. Because I feel we are at the crossroads, at a point where we need to ask ourselves what is next.
Ever since the inauguration day, I have been practically paralyzed and glued to the TV. I couldn’t believe what was happening in our country and to our country. To our people. All our people. My weaving was forgotten, loom half dressed. There was a pile of quilt tops that need to be basted and quilted. They were sitting on my bench in the living room. I sat at the sewing machine once and was not able to do anything. Completely uninspired and distracted by events that were shaping my children’s future in a scary, scary way.
I thought of turning of TV, delete Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone. Then I looked at my children again and thought, no, that’s wrong. Saying nothing is the same as agreeing with what is going on. With the president and the administration. I cannot stay passive and voiceless and look at my children in the face. I cannot stay passive and voiceless and look at myself in the mirror. I cannot stay passive and voiceless and sleep at night. I just can’t.
But, as I wrote a couple of posts ago: what can I do? I said quilt, but quilt what? Then one day I was listening to a podcast while walking the dog and I heard this story about the Underground Railway Quilts. According to this story, quilts with secret “codes”, known only to slaves, were made to help on the journey to freedom. These quilts would be placed on the dance or out to window to “air out”, but really they were signaling specific actions for the slaves on the road to freedom. For example, a log cabin block was used to signal that the place is a shelter or the person is safe to talk to. The stories of these quilts are part of African American folklore. Some historians do not believe this really took place but whether it really happened, or it’s just a story, it’s a beautiful one (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0205_040205_slavequilts.html).
As I was looking through the blocks and their supposed meaning (http://home2.fvcc.edu/~cgreig/final/blocks.html), I came across the crossroads block which is said to refer to Cleveland, Ohio, which was a place from which slaved could take several routes to freedom. It could also mean that a person has reached a point in their life when your life is about to change and you must be willing to go on.
That spoke to me. As I said, I feel we have reached point where we need to change our ways and decide which way to go; and stand our ground and persist and resist. Since then I have made many blocks and many more are coming.